Butternut squash belongs to the gourd family (which includes pumpkin, melon, and cucumber), so it is technically a fruit as it contains seeds. In all other respects however you can treat it a a vegetable. Roasted, it can be a side dish to meaty main courses, but it can also become the star ingredient in soups, stews and casseroles.
Low in fat, butternut squash delivers a rich dose of dietary fiber, making it an exceptionally heart-friendly choice. It contains significant amounts of potassium and vitamin B6, which are important elements for bone health and the proper functioning of both the nervous and immune systems. The folate content adds yet another boost to its heart-healthy reputation and helps guard against brain and spinal-cord-related birth defects such as spina bifida.
The butternut squash's rich orange colour, however, indicates one of its most important health advantages. It shows an abundance of the powerhouse nutrients known as carotenoids, shown to protect against heart disease. In particular, it contains very high levels of beta-carotene (which your body automatically converts to vitamin A), identified as a preventing against breast cancer and age-related macular degeneration, as well as a supporter of healthy lung development in newborns. What's more, with only a 200gr serving, you get nearly half the recommended daily dose of antioxidant-rich vitamin C.
As if this weren't enough, butternut squash has anti-inflammatory effects because of its high antioxidant content. Incorporating more of this warming winter crop into your diet could help reduce risk of inflammation-related disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.
You can just place it on a baking tray and bake in the oven for about an hour, or until you can pierce it with a sharp knife. This will intensify the flavour. Altrnatively you can remove its tough skin using a vegetable peeler and cut the flesh into chunks for steaming or sauteing. Once cooked, mash it, puree it for soup, fold it into a pasta or risotto dish, or simply enjoy your butternut squash as is.
One 200gr serving contains approximately:
Calories: 82 kcal
Fat: 0.2 g
Vitamin A: 1,144 mcg = 163% of DRI
Vitamin B6: 0.3 mg = 20% of DRI
Vitamin C: 31 mg = 41% of DRI
Folate: 39 mcg = 10% of DRI
Potassium: 582 mg = 12% of DRI