Packed With Vitamins and Minerals
Butternut squash is an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals.
A one-cup (205-gram) serving of cooked butternut squash provides more than 450% of the RDI for vitamin A and over 50% of the RDI for vitamin C.
It’s also rich in carotenoids — including beta-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, and alpha-carotene — which are plant pigments that give butternut squash its bright colour.
These compounds are provitamin A carotenoids, meaning your body converts them into retinal and retinoic acid — the active forms of vitamin A.
Vitamin A is essential for regulating cell growth, eye health, bone health, and immune function.
Additionally, it’s vital for fetal growth and development, making it an important vitamin for mothers-to-be.
Butternut squash is also rich in vitamin C — a water-soluble nutrient needed for immune function, collagen synthesis, wound healing, and tissue repair.
Both vitamins A and C work as potent antioxidants in your body, protecting your cells from damage caused by unstable molecules called free radicals.
Vitamin E is another antioxidant in butternut squash that helps protect against free radical damage and may reduce your risk of age-related conditions, such as Alzheimer’s.
This winter squash is also packed with B vitamins — including folate and B6 — which your body needs for energy and red blood cell formation.
What’s more, it’s high in magnesium, potassium, and manganese — all of which play important roles in bone health.
For example, manganese acts as a co-factor in bone mineralization, the process of building bone tissue.
High Antioxidant Content May Decrease Disease Risk
Butternut squash is an abundant source of powerful antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene.
Antioxidants help prevent or slow cellular damage and reduce inflammation, which may reduce your risk of several chronic diseases.
Research has shown that diets high in certain antioxidants found in butternut squash — such as carotenoid antioxidants and vitamin C — can reduce your risk of certain cancers.
For example, studies have demonstrated that a higher dietary intake of beta-carotene and vitamin C may reduce lung cancer risk.
Eating produce has long been associated with a lower risk of heart disease.
However, yellow and orange vegetables and fruits — including butternut squash — have been shown to be particularly effective at protecting against heart disease.
The antioxidants found in these brightly coloured vegetables have a powerful impact on heart health.
A study in 2,445 people demonstrated that heart disease risk fell 23% for every additional daily serving of yellow-orange vegetables.
It’s thought that the carotenoids found in these vegetables protect heart health by lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation, and controlling the expression of specific genes related to heart disease.
Certain dietary practices, such as eating more antioxidant-rich foods, may protect against mental decline.
What’s more, higher dietary intake of vitamin E may have a protective effect against Alzheimer’s disease.
May Aid Weight Loss
One cup (205 grams) of cooked butternut squash has only 83 calories and provides 7 grams of filling fiber — making it an excellent choice if you want to lose excess weight and body fat.
It contains both insoluble and soluble fiber. In particular, soluble fiber has been associated with fat loss and been shown to reduce appetite, which is important when you’re trying to control your calorie intake.