Butternut squash has a long history as a superfood in the US. The term "squash" itself comes from the Narragansett word askutasquash, meaning "eaten raw or uncooked", and Native Americans believed they were so nutritious they would bury one alongside the dead to sustain them in the afterlife. Little wonder they remain so popular, nearly 400 years later.
The squash you know and love today is derived from Cucurbita moschata, a long-vining plant native to Mexico and Central America, although there are several different varieties. It is, in fact, a modern variety of winter squash, developed by a Mr. Charles Legget of Stow, Massachusetts in 1944. Botanically a fruit, it has tan-yellow skin and orange fleshy pulp, with a sweet, nutty taste similar to that of pumpkin. When ripe, it turns a gorgeous deep orange, and becomes sweeter and richer.
Incredibly versatile, butternut squash can be roasted, sautéed, toasted, puréed for soups, or mashed to be used in casseroles, breads, and pies. It can even be used in muffins and sweet baked goods. Somewhat carb heavy – there are around 22 grams of carbs per cup – it’s nonetheless packed with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, and at only 82 calories, can help with weight loss and contribute to a balanced diet.
One-cup (200 grams) of cooked squash provides more than 450% of your Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of Vitamin A, and over 50% of your RDI of vitamin C. It’s also rich in carotenoids — including beta-cryptoxanthin, alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene, the same compound that’s so prevalent in carrots. Both vitamin A and C are potent antioxidants; Vitamin A boosts cell growth, eye health, bone health, and immune function, while vitamin C helps immune function, collagen synthesis, wound healing, and tissue repair.
Squash is rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that may reduce the risk of age-related conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, and is also packed with B vitamins — including folate and B6 — which the body needs for energy and red blood cell formation. Furthermore, it’s high in magnesium, potassium, and manganese. But really, it’s the antioxidants – those carotenoids – that make squash such a superfood.
Eating plentiful amounts of yellow and orange vegetables and fruits — such as butternut squash — have been shown to be particularly effective at promoting heart health by lowering blood pressure, reducing inflammation, and controlling the expression of specific genes related to heart disease. In combination, carotenoids and vitamin C can reduce the risk of certain cancers, such as lung cancer, and can also protect against mental decline; a carotenoid-rich diet can help aid enhanced memory recall, visual attention, and verbal fluency during aging. And squash’s high levels of both soluble and insoluble fibre helps promote weight loss and reduces body fat.
It’s super easy to incorporate butternut squash into your diet too – it can be added to many sweet and savoury dishes, and pairs well with a wide variety of other flavours and ingredients. Our butternut squash is USDA certified organic, and if you’re feeling adventurous, try our organic acorn squash, a variety also known as pepper squash or Des Moines squash, and one that’s extra sweet. Stick some in your cart today, as see for yourself why the Native Indians revered this fruit so much.