Fall Fit Food Spotlight – Squash

It’s harvest season. A time for cold air, warm clothes, and some of the tastiest food of the year. With that, we wanted to highlight some of these fall treats so you can enjoy your healthiest and tastiest fall yet!

If you’re trying to avoid the onslaught of pumpkin-flavored (or if you have a sweet tooth, pumpkin spice-flavored) goodies that crop up this time of year, look no further than the pumpkin’s bumpy, slightly-misshapen cousin: the squash.

Sure, it’s not much to look at, but it’s what’s on the inside that counts.

Despite its imperfections, squash is not only a good way to indulge in a seasonal favorite, it’s also a good way to get your veggies in.

Here are three benefits of eating squash:

  1. Good for the eyes

Even if a bumpy, misshapen squash isn’t exactly easy on the eyes, it’s good for them because squash is an excellent source of vitamin A and beta-carotene.

Vitamin A is an essential micronutrient  we get from our diet. Beta carotene is essentially a “precursor” to vitamin A. In fact, it actually turns into vitamin A once it’s consumed.

Beta carotene is a carotenoid, the provitamin that makes squash look orange or yellow. Because vitamin A is not naturally produced by our bodies, we need to eat foods rich in beta-carotene to get the proper amount of vitamin A in our diet.

Whether from supplements or squash, vitamin A helps you see in low-light conditions. It also supports the health of your cornea, which is the protective layer of your eye.

  1. Good for hair and skin

If you didn’t know squash hair masks were a thing, you’re not the only one. It turns out the vitamins in squash will have you rocking a healthy ‘do that even a deep conditioner can’t compete with.

The high vitamin A content necessary for sebum production can make your hair look moisturized and healthy.

Squash also has a high vitamin C content, which helps produce collagen. Collagen, a fibrous connective tissue, is essential for structuring the skin and hair but is also used throughout the body for bone density and cartilage.

  1. Cancer-fighting properties

If having healthy hair and good eyesight isn’t enough to convince you to eat squash, maybe this will: research suggests that it can help prevent cancer.

Similarly to how beta-carotene helps protect your eyes, it, along with other carotenoids, also protects your cells from cancer-causing free radicals.

So far, evidence shows that the carotenoids found in squash can prevent lung cancer and estrogen receptor negative breast cancer.

So, the next time you’re at the pumpkin patch, you might want to consider picking up a fresh squash. It won’t make for the prettiest jack-o’lantern on the block, but it will keep you healthy all season long.