Protein in Butternut Squash Fights Melanoma, Plus Half a Dozen Other Reasons to Eat This Delicious Fall Fruit

October 30, 2019 at 9:20 pm

On top of being creamy and delicious, butternut squash fights skin cancer, strengthens bones, boosts immunity, promotes weight loss and even alleviates PMS

In just about half a century of existence, butternut squash has become perhaps the most popular of all the winter squash.

It originated in the 1940s with the crossing of a Hubbard squash and Gooseneck squash.

Its creator, an insurance salesman turned farmer, described it as “smooth as butter and sweet as a nut,” which led to the name butternut squash.

The pretty little yellow pumpkin has been building a reputation ever since, both for its rich and creamy flavor and it’s nutritional profile.

One serving of butternut squash has almost five times (457%) the recommended daily value of vitamin A, the source of the cancer-fighting antioxidants beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin. (Vitamin A is impossible to absorb without fat, so be sure to add some grass-fed butter or olive oil ).

It’s also a good source of vitamin C (52%), manganese (18%), potassium (17%), magnesium (15%), vitamin E (13%), all the B vitamins (10-13%), calcium (8%), iron (7%), copper (7%) and phosphorus (6%)… all vitamins and minerals most of us don’t get enough of.

Cancer fighting protein and antioxidants

A 2003 study found that a protein in the seeds of the species cucurbita moschata, which includes butternut squash and pie pumpkins, was a “potent” inhibitor of the growth of melanoma (skin cancer) cells. The researchers said the protein has potential as a general anti-cancer agent.

So be sure to roast up and eat the seeds along with the rest of your butternut squash.

Because of the unusually high concentration of carotenoid antioxidants in its flesh, researchers recommend butternut squash, and its cousins, to rid the body of free radicals and help prevent cancer in a 2014 study.

Bone-strengthening minerals

“High levels of potassium in the body are associated with denser bones, even in postmenopausal women and older men, both of whom often have more brittle bones and are at a higher risk of osteoporosis,” says Dr. Axe in his blog.

Manganese, a hard-to-find mineral, manganese is also essential for bone health and prevention of osteoporosis, especially in women who have undergone menopause, he adds.

Fat-fighting stem extract

A 2012 study found that an extract from the stems of  butternut squash and other members of Cucurbita moschata species has strong anti-obesity qualities.

It effects a variety of cellular processes, including lipogenesis,  or the formation of body fat.

“Essentially, the extract stops the body from producing new fat to store,” Dr. Axe explains.

PMS rescue remedy

Low levels of manganese are associated with more severe PMS pain and mood symptoms. Butternut squash is one of a relatively small number of foods that contains a substantial amount of manganese, and of course, a whole-food source of a vitamin is always easier to absorb than in pill form.

Potassium also helps prevent and alleviate menstrual and other muscle cramps.

Vitamins K and E are also PMS-fighting nutrients.