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8 Good Things About Butternut Squash You Need To Know

8 Good Things About Butternut Squash You Need To Know

Butternut squash, a sort of “kissing cousin” to cucumbers and melons, is a cream-colored vegetable with a deep orange flesh, shaped roughly like a bell. It was only introduced to America in 1944, but since then has become prized for its delicious flavor as well as its health benefits, including those listed below.

1. You Will Load Up on Carotenoids

Say what?! Carotenoids are important antioxidants that come in many forms. When you load your plate up with butternut squash, you will be taking in four different kinds of antioxidants: alpha carotene, beta carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin. The first two will be converted to vitamin A by your body, and the second two will be taken up by your eyes to promote good vision and avoid serious diseases like cataracts.

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2. You Will Get Plenty of Fiber

Butternut squash is great because it contains soluble and insoluble fiber, both of which are very healthy for your body. Insoluble fiber helps to cleanse the digestive tract and bulks up stool to make constipation less likely. Soluble fiber is also important because it helps the body maintain steady blood sugar levels by breaking down carbohydrates more slowly. Because of this important quality, squashes and other high-fiber veggies are considered to be good for a diabetic diet.

3. You Will Load up on Electrolytes as Well

Electrolytes don’t just come from sports drinks. You can also replace them with food as well. Butternut squash is rich in three of the most important electrolytes: potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Among their many other tasks, electrolytes help to keep the balance of fluids in the body, as well as helping keep muscles and nerves healthy. In one serving of butternut squash, you will get 10% of your potassium, 11% of your magnesium, and 6% of your calcium for the day.

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4. You Will be Getting Lots of Vitamin C

Even people who don’t know a lot about nutrition know how healthy vitamin C  is for your body. It is an antioxidant, which means that it reduces oxidative stress on the cells and can even help to slow down the aging process. Antioxidants also decrease the chance of cell mutations that can eventually lead to cancer. A single serving of butternut squash will give you between 32 and 39% of all the vitamin C you need for the day.

5. You Will Be Getting a Healthy Snack

Not only can you feast upon the squash itself, you can also remove the seeds and roast them for a delicious and incredibly healthy snack. Butternut squash seeds are not only high in protein and fiber, they also contain compounds like oleic acid, which can be found in olive oil, and has been proven to be very heart-healthy.

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6. You Will Get Lots of B-Vitamins Too

B-vitamins are also incredibly important for your health, especially the health of your central nervous system. Loading up on squash can help keep your B-vitamin levels in a healthy range, providing you with 19% of B6, 11% of B2, and 6% of B3 for the day.

7. You Will Reduce Inflammation Throughout Your Body

Why does butternut squash help to reduce inflammation? Because it is rich in several different compounds that have been proven to have strong anti-inflammatory properties. These compounds include vitamin C, omega-3 fatty acids (like the kind found in tuna or salmon), and compounds called cucurbitacins, which have potential anti-cancer benefits as well.

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8. You Will Lose Weight

Butternut squash is considered to be a high-quality food because it gives you a ton of nutrients for only a few calories. These nutrient-dense foods can help satisfy your hunger, making it easier to avoid overeating and thus achieve your weight loss goals. The good news is that this squash is incredibly versatile. It can be made into dozens of simple, healthy, and delicious recipes.

Conclusion

The next time you are in the produce aisle, pick up some butternut squashes and bring them home for dinner. You will not only get a great-tasting meal that your whole family will love, but also all of the important health benefits mentioned here.

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Brian Wu

Health Writer, Author

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

The Ultimate Guide to Help You Sleep Through the Night Tonight

It’s well past midnight and you’ve got to get up in less than six hours. You toss and turn all night. Before you know it, another hour passes by and you start panicking.

If I don’t get to sleep in the next 30 minutes, I’m going to be exhausted tomorrow!”

One thing is for sure, you’re not alone. Over 70M+ Americans have stated that they don’t get the proper sleep they need at night.[1] So what could possibly be causing this insomnia epidemic?

Throughout my entrepreneurial journey of building my language learning company, I have experimented and researched dozens of best sleep practices. Some have flopped but a few have dramatically improved the quality of my life and work.

In this article, I’ll look into the reason why you’re sleep deprived and how to sleep through the night tonight.

Why you can’t sleep through the night

The first step to improving anything is getting to the bottom of the root problem. Different studies have shown the reasons why most people cannot sleep well at night.[2] Here are the main ones that the average person faces:

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Stress

If you’ve ever stayed up at night worrying about something, know that it’s a major sleep inhibitor. When you’re feeling stress, your mind and body becomes more activated, making it incredibly difficult to fall asleep. Even when you do manage to sleep, it won’t be deep enough to help you feel rested the next day.

Exposure to blue light before sleep time

We’re exposed to harmful blue light on a daily basis through the use of our digital screens. If you’ve never heard of blue light, it’s part of the visible light spectrum that suppresses melatonin, our sleep hormones. Other harmful effects include digital eye strains and macular cellular damage.

While daytime exposure to blue light is not very harmful, night time exposure tricks our brain into thinking it’s daytime. By keeping your brain alert and suppressing melatonin, your mind is unable to shut down and relax before bedtime.

Eating close to bedtime

Eating too late can actually be an issue for many people, especially those who are older than 40. The reason is, eating before laying down increases the chances of Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), in which stomach acid backflows into the esophagus.

Another reason not to eat too late is sleep quality. Even if you manage to sleep right after eating, it’s likely that you’ll wake up tired. Instead of letting your body rest during sleep, it has to digest the food that was entered before bedtime.

Rule of thumb: eat 3-4 hours before bedtime.

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Medical conditions

In some cases, it could be medical conditions that cause your sleep problems. If you can’t relate yourself to the above reasons or any of these common sleep problem causes, you should visit the doctor.

The vicious sleep cycle

The biggest danger to repeating the bad habits mentioned above is the negative cycle that it can take you through. A bad night’s sleep can affect not only your energy but your willpower and decision making skills.

Here’s an example of a bad sleep pattern:

You get a bad night’s sleep
–> You feel tired and stressful throughout the day.
–> You compensate it with unhealthy habits (for example junk food, skipping exercises, watching Netflix etc.)
–> You can’t sleep well (again) the next night.

    You can imagine what could happen if this cycle repeats over a longer period of time.

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    How to sleep better (throughout the night)

    To help you break the vicious cycle and stop waking up in the middle of the night, I’ll explain to you a list of actionable steps to solve your trouble staying asleep.

    1. Take control over the last 90 minutes of your night

    What you do (or don’t do) before bedtime have significant impact on the quality of your sleep. Many times, it can be the difference between staying up until 4am and sleeping like a baby.

    Here are a few suggestions:

    • Go from light to dark – Darkness stimulates production of the sleep hormone melatonin. Turn off unused light around the house, and think about investing into warm light that you can use in the bedroom before bedtime.
    • Avoid screens (or wear blue light blocking glasses) – Keep the bedroom a technology-free zone as the light from electronic devices can disturb your sleep. If you need to work, wear blue light blocking glasses (also known as computer glasses) throughout or before you sleep to prevent sleep disruption.
    • Find an activity that helps you to wind down  This could be anything that calms you down, and reduces thinking (especially unnecessary stress). Fir example, listening to soothing/good feel music, taking a hot bath, reading or meditating.
    • Keep any electronics you have on the other side of the room or outside the room – One of the most harmful things that can disrupt your sleep is the notifications you get from your smartphones. The simplest way to avoid this is to keep it away from you.
    • Create a bedtime routine – A night routine is a couple of things you do prior to going to bed. By doing these things every night, you’ll have a more restful and high-quality sleep. Learn how to pick up a night routine here: The Ultimate Night Routine Guide to Sleep Better and Wake Up Productive

    2. Eat the right nutrients (and avoid the wrong ones)

    What you eat (not just when we eat) plays a critical role in your sleep quality. If you’re ever in doubt of what to eat to improve your sleep, take the following into consideration:

    • Kiwi – This green fruit may be the ultimate pre-bed snack. When volunteers ate two kiwis an hour before hitting the hay, they slept almost a full extra hour. Kiwis are full of vitamins C and E, serotonin and folate—all of which may help you snooze.
    • Soy foods – Foods made with soy such as tofu, miso and edamame, are rich in isoflavones. These compounds increase the production of serotonin, a brain chemical that influences the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
    • Fiber-rich foods – Eating more fiber could be key for better sleep. Eating fiber was associated with more restorative slow-wave sleep—the more you eat, the better you sleep—per a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine. Fiber prevents blood sugar surges that may lower melatonin. Get a fiber boost from beans, artichokes, bran cereal and quinoa.
    • Salmon – Most fish, especially salmon, halibut and tuna boost vitamin B6, which is needed to make melatonin— a sleep-inducing hormone triggered by darkness.

    3. Adjust your sleep temperature

    Once you’ve gone through the first 2 recommendations, the last step to experiment with is temperature. According to Sleep.org, the ideal temperature for sleep is 60-67 Farenheit. This may be cooler than what most people are used to, but keep in mind that our body temperature changes once we fall asleep.

    Rule of thumb: sleeping in cooler temperature is better for sleep quality than warmer temperature.

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    Find out how to maintain the optimal temperature to sleep better here: How to Sleep Faster with the Best Temperature

    Sleep better form now on

    Congrats on making it to the end of this guide on sleep. If you’re serious about taking the necessary steps in improving your sleep, remember to take it one step at a time.

    I recommend trying just one of the steps mentioned such as taking a hot bath, blocking out blue light at night, or sleeping in cooler temperature. From there, see how it impacts your sleep quality and you can keep doing what works, and throw away what doesn’t.

    As long as you follow these steps cautiously and diligently, I know you’ll see improved results in your sleep!

    Featured photo credit: pixabay via pixabay.com

    Reference

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