During this time of year, you're likely to find butternut squash, an autumnal staple, on most grocery stands.
Today we'll look at this popular winter squash and learn what it can do for your bones and your overall health. You might be surprised at just how jam-packed it is with bone-building vitamins and minerals. You'll also get two recipes that use butternut squash in a delightful and unexpected way.
All About Butternut Squash
Butternut squash most likely originated in Central America. It grows on long vines and is technically a fruit, although it is typically used as a vegetable in most dishes. The blossoms and seeds of the butternut squash are also edible, and quite tasty.
Butternut squash is part of the Cucurbita family, which includes pumpkins, gourds, and other squashes originating in the Americas. Like its relatives, butternut squash is an excellent source of nutrients. Here are the top general health benefits of butternut squash:
- Immune System Boost – Butternut squash is rich in beta-carotene, which makes it a powerful immune system booster. It also reduces inflammation, which helps to keep the immune system balanced. Additionally, it contains a good amount of Vitamin C, which is critical for immune health.
- Reduces Fatigue – If you experience fatigue, then butternut squash could help you recover your strength. A study published in 2012 has shown that butternut squash was effective in decreasing fatigue and increasing exercise performance in mice. 1
- Aids Weight Loss – Squash is full of nutrients, but it is a low calorie food . One study found that an extract had anti-obesity effects, since it impeded the development of fat.2
- Cancer Prevention – Studies have found that butternut squash has cancer-preventing qualities. A protein in the squash, Moschatin, inhibits the growth of skin cancer cells.3
Butternut squash is technically a fruit. It's a rich source of nutrients and has many health benefits, including boosting the immune system, reducing fatigue, aiding weight loss, and preventing cancer.
Butternut Squash And Bone Health
In addition to its broad health benefits, butternut squash is specifically beneficial to your bones. It contains nine Foundation Supplements, including high levels of manganese, iron, and Vitamin C.
Manganese is an essential component of many enzymes. That includes enzymes that are essential for the formation of healthy bone and collagen. Studies have shown that manganese deficiency can prevent the absorption of calcium. 4
Iron is another bone-building mineral found in butternut squash. Our bodies cannot synthesize iron. Getting enough of this mineral is essential for bone health. Studies have confirmed that iron deficiency causes diminished bone formation which contributes to bone loss.5 Conversely, an adequate iron intake has been shown to positively impact bone mineral density.6
Vitamin C is a notable bone-builder. Its antioxidant abilities protect bone from oxidative damage. It also helps keep the adrenal glands healthy, which reduces levels of bone-damaging stress hormones. Additionally, Vitamin C is essential for collagen synthesis. Collagen makes up nearly one-third of our skin, bone, and connective tissue. It also makes up 90% of the organic component of bone.
Additionally, butternut squash is a plant source of calcium and protein, both of which are essential for building bone mass. Calcium is a building block of bone, and protein comprises muscle mass, which is necessary for the stimulation of bone growth.
Butternut squash helps protect and build bone thanks to its impressive nutritional profile. Manganese, iron, and Vitamin C are all Foundation Supplements found in butternut squash. Additionally, its protein and calcium content is beneficial for the creation and maintenance of bone.
The Nutritional Profile Of Butternut Squash
Here's a breakdown of the nutritional profile of a single serving (205 grams or about one cup) of butternut squash.
- Vitamin A – 22,869 IU (457 percent DV)
- Vitamin C* – 31 milligrams (52 percent DV)
- Vitamin E – 2.6 milligrams (13 percent DV)
- Vitamin B6* – 0.3 milligram (13 percent DV)
- Vitamin B1* (thiamine) – 0.1 milligrams (10 percent DV)
- Vitamin B3* (niacin) – 2 milligrams (10 percent DV)
- Vitamin B9* (folate) – 38.9 micrograms (10 percent DV)
- Manganese* – 0.4 milligrams (18 percent DV)
- Potassium – 582 milligrams (17 percent DV)
- Magnesium* – 59.4 milligrams (15 percent DV)
- Calcium* – 84 milligrams (8 percent DV)
- Iron* – 1.2 milligrams (7 percent DV)
- Copper* – 0.1 milligram (7 percent DV)
- Protein – 1.8 grams
*denotes Foundation Supplement
Two Tasty Recipes Featuring Butternut Squash
Now that you know how densely nutritious butternut squash is, you’ll want creative ways to incorporate it into your diet. Squash is great for roasting and for soups. But today we share two far more creative and surprising uses of this bone-building fruit.
Autumn Delight Cookies
Makes 14 cookies
- 1 cup rolled oats, previously blended to the consistency of flour
- ¾ cup almond flour
- ¾ cup grated butternut squash
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- ½ teaspoon stevia powder (adjust to taste)
- 4 tablespoons almond milk or your favorite non-dairy milk
- 1 egg (at room temperature)
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg, vanilla, stevia powder, almond milk, and coconut oil. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
- Add the oats and flour mixture to the first bowl and mix until incorporated. Then fold in the shredded butternut squash.
- Place the mixture in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 325F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Scoop out 14 measures of the cookie dough onto the baking sheet. Use a spatula to even out and flatten the surface.
- Bake at 325°F for 12 to 15 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheet and then enjoy or store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
One-Bowl Chocolatey Cookies
Makes 18 cookies
- 1 cup rolled oats, previously blended to form the consistency of flour
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1 cup butternut squash puree
- ½ teaspoon stevia powder (adjust to taste)
- ½ cup almond butter
- 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
- Chocolate chips for topping
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, add the butternut squash puree, oats, stevia, almond butter, and pumpkin pie spice and mix well (you can also use an electric mixer).
- Form the dough into tablespoon sized balls and place on the baking sheets.
- Gently flatten each cookie by pressing down the tops with a spoon to achieve a cookie shape.
- Place a teaspoonful of chocolate chips on top of each cookie.
- Bake for 14 to 18 minutes. Allow to cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
What This Means To You
Both of those cookie recipes are sure to delight and surprise your friends and loved ones. Not only will you be bringing joy, but you'll also be bringing good health. Butternut squash supports your bones with a burst of essential vitamins and minerals. It doesn't hurt that it's also bursting with flavor!
You can get other delicious bone-building recipes in the Save Institute's cookbook and meal planner Bone Appétit. There are few things as cozy or satisfying as a warm kitchen on a cold day. Turn yours into a source of health, strength, and culinary delight!
Eat Your Way to Stronger Bones!
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