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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 December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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