Autumn brings along with a wonderful range of Squashes such as Harlequin, Crown Prince, Butternut, or Spaghetti; although the Butternut Squash has become the most popular in the UK.
Part of the staple diet in North American pumpkins and squashes or winter squash as they are also known come from Cucurbitaceae family, which is the same family as the marrow, watermelon, cucumber and courgette, also known as the summer squash and some would say technically a fruit.
The lovely bright red, yellow and orange colours of the squashes is a giveaway of its high beta-carotene content, an anti-oxidant which is converted into vitamin A when eaten. Essential for eye health along with vitamin C & E can help to prevent cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration. One serving of squash can give you your daily requirement of vitamin A.
Other phyo-nutrients present are B vitamins, niacin, thiamine, pantothenic acid and folate. Along with minerals magnesium, potassium, manganese, copper, phosphorous, calcium and iron as well as being high in dietary fibre. This combination of rich nutrients will aid in boosting the immunity, help to control diabetes by keeping the blood sugars low, reduce inflammation such as arthritis, gout and fever as well as gastric inflammation.
Cardiovascular health is strengthened by helping to reduce high blood pressure and cholesterol. Furthermore, they are all great for the skin and will assistance in slowing the ageing process.
Pumpkins contain seeds, which can be bought all year round and eaten dry, are also packed with nutrients, too long for me to list. They are high in essential fatty acids and essential amino acids (which means the body can only obtain through food) along with a wealth of vitamins, protein and iron. The latter, has been found to be an excellent source for women suffering from anaemia.
There has also been some research of the use of pumpkin seeds to help reduce bladder pressure and improve bladder compliance in those suffering from Benign Prostatic Enlargement. And, there is evidence that they can reduce calcium oxalate crystals in the urine in Urinary Stones. They are great as a snack, added to smoothies, soups and salads. If using them fresh, scape them out and bake them for 15mins at 160°.
Pumpkins can be eaten savoury or sweet. For sweet, puree and add to smoothies or make a healthy pumpkin pie for desert with coconut milk and almond flour base or try Helmsley & Helmsley Pumpkin Pie Puddings.
Any of the squashes are very tasty and can be added to pasta, salads, stews or roasted. When roasting the skin can also be eaten on some varieties. There is definitely more to this amazing vegetable than a scary face.
Sources: Medical News Today, Organic Facts, WHFoods, Dr Sarah Brewer, Helmsley & Helmsley