Squash: Natural Weight-Loss Foods

Squash has a reputation for fiber. Eating squash is particularly satisfying, because the bulk fills you up, allowing you to forgo second helpings.

Because squash is actually the fruit of various members of the gourd family, it comes in a wide array of colors and sizes. Whether it's tasty summer squash or sweet, flavorful winter squash, this vegetable is a great help for your weight-loss plan.


Health Benefits

Though all varieties of squash are good nutrition choices, winter varieties tend to be more nutrient-dense. They generally contain much more beta-carotene and more of several B vitamins than summer squash.

Butternut squash's beta-carotene content even rivals that of mangoes and cantaloupe. And that's a boon in the fight against cancer, heart disease, and cataracts.

Beta-carotene may also play a role in reducing lung inflammation and emphysema. Winter squash also contain beneficial amounts of vitamin C, potassium, and fiber, which is just right for filling you up, not out.

Summer squash contain vitamin C as well as beta-carotene, folate, and fiber. These nutrients make summer squash a tool in preventing cancers, heart disease, and diseases of inflammation such as arthritis and asthma.


Selection and Storage

Despite seasonal growth patterns, most types of squash are available year-round, though winter squash is best from early fall to late winter.

Summer varieties, such as those with thin, edible skins and soft seeds, include chayote, yellow crookneck, and zucchini. Winter varieties, such as those with dark skins that are too hard and thick to eat, include acorn, buttercup, butternut, calabaza, Danish hubbard, spaghetti, and turban. Look for smaller squash that are brightly colored and free of spots, bruises, and mold.


The hard skin of winter squash serves as a barrier, allowing it to be stored a month or more in a dark, cool place. An added bonus: Beta-carotene content actually increases during storage. Summer squash only keeps for a few days; store it in your refrigerator's crisper drawer.

Preparation and Serving Tips

After peeling (or not, if you like) and removing the seeds, winter squash can be baked, steamed, sauteed, or simmered. Summer squash, on the other hand, is cooked and eaten skin, seeds, and all. Some savory seasoning suggestions for winter squash: allspice, cinnamon, curry, fennel, marjoram, nutmeg, sage, and tarragon. For summer squash, try dill, basil, and oregano.

When you think of fiber, think of squash. And you won't even think of having those extra helpings.


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