The fall is a great time to take advantage of all that nature has to offer. We get pretty excited about all the seasonal vegetables that are abundant this time of year. One of my personal favorites is butternut squash.
Butternut squash is not only delicious, but it’s loaded with health benefits for aging women. Whether you like to prepare your squash as a side dish or blend it up into a tasty soup, you can rest assured that including it in your diet is a good move for your body.
Interestingly enough, butternut squash is actually a fruit since it contains a pit in the middle, though it’s commonly referred to as a vegetable. Nevertheless, it’s packed with vitamins and nutrients that will boost your health in more ways than one — it might even help you lose weight!
Check out some of the benefits of butternut squash below.
Benefits of Butternut Squash for the Brain
As we get older, it becomes more and more important for us to pay attention to our brain health. To avoid mental decline, it’s essential to consume an adequate amount of nutrients like antioxidants.
Butternut squash is an antioxidant-rich food. In particular, it gets its orange hue from a group of antioxidants that are important for mental functioning called carotenoids — including beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, and alpha-carotene. Specifically, one study in 2,983 people over the course of 13 years found that a carotenoid-rich diet was associated with enhanced memory recall, visual attention, and verbal fluency as they aged.
Butternut squash is also rich in vitamin E, which has been found to potentially protect the brain from age-related brain damage. Research shows that people who consume more vitamin E in their diets have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
Butternut Squash For Digestion and Gut Health
Gut health is at the forefront of many conversations about bodily wellness these days. A happy gut means better immunity, skin health, brain health, digestion, and more. As it turns out, butternut squash may be one of the best foods for improving gut health and digestion because it’s loaded with dietary fiber.
One cup of cooked butternut squash contains about seven grams of fiber. It’s estimated that most people in the US consume 10 to 15 grams of fiber per day, while the recommended daily intake for adult women is 25 to 35 grams. Eating a little butternut squash each day can get you closer to meeting your daily requirements!
Butternut squash contains both insoluble fiber and soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is not water soluble, meaning that it’s the “bulk forming” type of fiber that helps move stool through your digestive tract. Soluble fiber absorbs water to make stools softer and easier to pass. Both types of fiber are needed for an optimally functioning digestive tract. Fiber also helps the good bacteria in the gut, known as probiotic bacteria, thrive.
Benefits of Butternut Squash for Weight Loss
Eating butternut squash could help with weight loss in a few different ways. For one, it’s low in calories and high in nutrients. Replacing other carbs in your diet with butternut squash can help you decrease the amount of empty calories you’re eating while providing your body with nutrients that facilitate a healthier weight.
One of those nutrients is fiber. Fiber has long been associated with weight loss. One reason is that fiber increases satiety, helping you to feel fuller for longer which could help you consume less calories overall. Studies have also shown that consuming more fiber can lead specifically to fat loss and lower risk of obesity.
In fact, one particular study in women found that for every one gram of fiber per day added to one’s diet, weight decreased by a half pound while body fat decreased as well! Results from another study conducted over an 18-month period suggest that increasing fiber intake leads to long-term weight loss and lower BMI.
So if you’re ready to kiss those extra pounds goodbye, try some butternut mash as a dinner side tonight! This fall favorite is a delicious and nutritious addition to your diet that you can feel proud to put on your plate.
Here’s to a healthier you!