The Healing Properties of Winter Squash

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winter_squash
Winter Squash

Delectable, Nutrient-Rich Winter Squash

Nutritional Benefits

The deliciously sweet taste, comfortingly smooth texture, and lovely deep orange or yellow colors are reasons enough to enjoy winter squash, but this nutrient-dense food also provides a wealth of health benefits.

The lovely, deep orange color shows how rich winter squash is in carotenoid compounds. Carotenoids (also called provitamin A), are the types of Vitamin A compounds found in vegetables. Retinol (also called preformed vitamin A), is the form of vitamin A that is found in animals. When we eat carotenoids our body turns them into retinol.

Vitamin A is crucially important for healthy vision; cell division and differentiation; the immune, intestinal and respiratory systems; and the urinary tract. It has been shown to play a role in blood sugar regulation, and to have powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Recent research has linked vitamin A to reduced risk of colon and lung cancer, and reduced severity of asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Vitamin A deficiency is linked to many illnesses.

The liver can store up to a year’s supply of vitamin A; but this store becomes depleted if a person is sick or has inflammation, or if they smoke. Vitamin A deficiency has been linked to emphysema.

One cup of baked winter squash gives you 145% of your RDA for Vitamin A. It is also high in vitamin C, Folate, Potassium, Manganese and dietary fiber.

Ancient Wisdom: A Good Food for the Season

In the 5,000 year old Asian system called The 5 Element Theory, or The 5 Transformations (the term we use at Kushi Institute), natural cyclical changes such as the seasons effect various aspects of human health. Understanding and using this system can bring greater health and vitality.

Here are some of the associations with the season we have just entered, which is called “early autumn” in The 5 Transformations:

•Element: Soil
•Energy Direction: Downward
•Organs: Stomach, spleen and pancreas
•Taste: Naturally Sweet, like winter squash
•Color: Yellow and Orange
•Vegetables: Winter Squash and other sweet orange and yellow vegetables which ripen in the Fall

This is only a small amount of information on a very deep study. As we move into each season the Kushi Institute Newsletter will include more information on the 5 Transformations for that time of year.

The 5 Transformations are one of the key subjects in the Kushi Institute’s Level 2 program.

References

Baybutt RC, Hu L, Molteni A. Vitamin A deficiency injures lung and liver parenchyma and impairs function of rat type II pneumocytes. J Nutr. 2000 May;130(5):1159-65. PMID:10801913.

Li T, Molteni A, Latkovich P, Castellani W, Baybutt RC. Vitamin A depletion induced by cigarette smoke is associated with the development of emphysema in rats. J Nutr. 2003 Aug;133(8):2629-34. PMID:12888649.

Suzuki K, Ito Y, Nakamura S et al. Relationship between serum carotenoids and hyperglycemia: a population- based cross-sectional study. J Epidemiol 2002 Sep;12(5):357-66 2002.

Wood, Rebecca. The Whole Foods Encyclopedia. New York, NY: Prentice-Hall Press; 1988. PMID:15220.

Ylonen K, Alfthan G, Groop, L et al. Dietary intakes and plasma concentrations of carotenoids and tocopherols in relation to glucose metabolism in subjects at high risk of type 2 diabetes: the Botnia Dietary Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 Jun; 77(6):1434-41 2003.

Yuan JM, Stram DO, Arakawa K, Lee HP, Yu MC. Dietary cryptoxanthin and reduced risk of lung cancer: the Singapore Chinese Health Study. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2003 Sep;12(9):890-8.

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