Butternut squash is inevitably one of the most popular fall and winter veggies. Though technically a fruit since it contains seeds, butternut squash is a member of the gourd family, and extremely versatile in the kitchen. Whether you roast it, use it in a salad, make soup with it, transform it into a breakfast muffin, or even turn it into noodles, this nutritious root vegetable can be used in multiple ways to enhance your plant-based dishes.

Butternut squash isn’t just for culinary pleasure either mind you, (even though that’s reason alone to love it.) It’s also one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables you can choose, and one of the best foods to eat to protect your body against cancer. It’s packed with carotenoids, known as beta-carotene, which your body naturally converts to Vitamin A (because it’s so smart that way!) Beta-carotene is a powerful anti-inflammatory nutrient for your immune system and your blood and circulatory health.

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Take a look at some of butternut squash’s other benefits that can transform your health, along with your meals at the same time:

Frugal

Butternut squash is incredibly inexpensive, which is great for anyone on a tight budget or those who are looking to get more healthy foods for their hard-earned dollars. Avoid buying butternut squash that’s pre-cut, however. Though that seems like the easier route than hacking into the hard squash before cooking it, there’s a much better option. Roast your squash whole in the oven without cutting it one little bit. Roast at 375 degrees for one hour and then just slice into it with a knife, scoop out the flesh, and use it however you like. It’s much easier to cut after it’s cooked and only costs around $2.50-$3.00 per squash if you buy it whole versus the same price for a half a squash that’s pre-chopped.

Omega 3’s

Most of us would have never dreamed squash could be a good source of anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids, however, butternut squash proves us wrong. Just one cup of butternut squash has 340 milligrams of omega 3’s in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). That’s about one third of the amount found in walnuts, but for fewer calories per serving, along with more fiber, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. Omega 3’s help contribute to better brain function, along with a healthier heart.

Regulates Your Blood Sugar

We all know eating a whole foods, clean plant-based diet is one of the best ways to take care of your blood sugar, and  butternut squash is one of the best foods linked to preventing type 2 diabetes. It’s rich in fiber and polysaccharides, which are carbs that break down slowly in the body and promote healthy blood sugar levels. Eating foods that have beneficial carbs that digest more slowly is one of the most important things to consider when managing your blood sugar. Carbohydrates from whole, low-glycemic foods like squash are a much better option than refined foods that only spike your blood sugar and contribute to insulin surges that can lead to diabetes.

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Highest Source of Anti-Inflammatory Carotenoids

Butternut squash (and other winter squashes) aren’t just high in beneficial carotenoids known as beta-carotene – they’re also the highest source of all common fruits and vegetables! Butternut squash is one of the most beneficial foods linked to breast and colon cancer prevention, along with others such as pumpkin, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Carotenoids have also been linked to better brain health and preventing degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and heart disease.

Delicious and Versatile!

Now, let’s talk about how simple and tasty buttersquash is in the kitchen! You can use butternut squash in a variety of recipes from breakfast, to lunch, dinner, and even dessert. Since it’s a natural source of healthy carbohydrates that offer low-glycemic benefits, it’s a great choice to replace refined and more processed carbs such as breads, crackers, and even some forms of whole grain cereal. Remember, the closer a food is to it’s whole food form, the better it is for your body. Root vegetables like squash can easily be used to replace things like noodles, breads, and other higher-glycemic foods in your meals that will also give your body more nutrients.

Try out some of these recipes with butternut squash today:

How will you give butternut squash a try this week?

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Image Source: Saffron Risotto with Butternut Squash

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