Seasonal Spotlight: The Health Benefits of Winter Squash

It’s that time of year – all things pumpkin spice! Just typing those words has me dreaming of changing leaves, boots, pumpkin spice lattes and cozy nights in. With changing seasons comes a whole new crop of seasonal produce, including my favorite winter squash.

Is butternut squash the same thing as winter squash?

Yes and no. Butternut squash is a variety of winter squash, but there are actually 11 other varieties included in the winter squash family. Let’s run through some of the top contenders:

Butternut Squash – the sweetest of the winter squashes, butternut squash is best known for being the star ingredient in creamy, butternut squash soup.

Acorn Squash – small in size but shaped like (you guessed it) an oversized acorn, acorn squash has a mild, subtly sweet and nutty flavor. I can distinctly remember my mom roasting these in the oven with butter and brown sugar – fall comfort food at its finest! These days, I might replace this with coconut oil and coconut sugar for a more nutritious swap.

Delicata Squash – smaller than most winter squash, delicata squash is cylindrical and easy to prepare and cook. These squash have a similar taste to sweet potatoes and are delicious cut up (seeds removed) and roasted, skin and all!

Pumpkin – if baking or cooking with fresh pumpkin, choose the smaller variety that are grown specifically for eating, not the carving variety. Of course, it’s not a fall season without a few slices of pumpkin pie!

Spaghetti Squash – most commonly known as a spaghetti noodle alternative, spaghetti squash is mild in flavor and can be roasted or steamed, then scraped to remove the strands.

Health Benefits of Winter Squash

Although winter squash tends to be a starchy, high-carbohydrate vegetable, it is actually a low glycemic food which gives us all the more reason to curl up with a bowl of butternut squash soup! Other health benefits of winter squash include:

  • Great source of vitamin A – The vibrant orange flesh of many winter squash varieties is due to an amazing concentration of carotenoids (a plant pigment), which act as antioxidants in the body that is converted to vitamin A.
  • Quality fiber food – winter squash is high in pectin, a type of fiber naturally found in fruits and vegetables which helps stabilize blood sugar levels and keeps you full and satisfied.
  • Promotes heart health – winter squash is an excellent source of potassium which helps counteract the effects of sodium on blood pressure.

7 Winter Squash Recipes to Get You in the Fall Spirit

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