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Superfoods A-Z: Kabocha Squash

March 20, 2013

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Meet the Clark Kent of the winter produce aisle: kabocha squash. Hiding inside this unassuming green gourd is a superhuman amount of vitamins, free radical-fighting antioxidants, and soreness-battling anti-inflammatories. [1] But don’t worry about finding a phone booth. All you need to spring this seasonal squash into action is a stove top. Here’s why Kabocha should be on your winter menu.

Kudos to Kabocha

Like Superman’s dark-rimmed glasses and unassuming alter ego, Kabocha shrouds its power with an ugly green shell. Underneath lies bright orange flesh, signaling that this squash is an excellent source of beta-carotene. [2] 

Beta-carotene is a provitamin that’s easily converted to vitamin A in the body, helping to fight off cancer-causing free radicals and coronary heart disease [3] [4]

Vitamin A is important for healthy white blood cells and immune system function. It also helps promote strong eyesight. A single serving of kabocha squash provides more than a day's worth of the USDA’s recommended requirement. [5]

But Kabocha’s powers don’t stop there. The squash’s edible shell packs six grams of fiber, keeping you fuller longer. [5] You can even benefit from roasting the seeds, which are a good source of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid known for its ability to fight post-activity muscle soreness. [6] A single ounce of seeds is packed with protein, magnesium, potassium and zinc. [7] They also contain high levels of phytosterols, which research suggests can reduce cholesterol and even help prevent some types of cancers. [8]

How to Enjoy This Super Squash

Kabocha squash, which is also called Japanese Squash, is a versatile veggie. Use it in place of sweet potatoes or butternut squash and get all of the taste with fewer calories and carbs (40 calories, 9g of carbs and 1g of protein per one cup serving).

Enjoy Kabocha with one of these healthy recipes:

Sources

[1] Priyadarshani AM and Chandrika UG. "Content and in-vitro accessibility of pro-vitamin A carotenoids from Sri Lankan cooked non-leafy vegetables and their estimated contribution to vitamin A requirement." Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2007 Dec;58(8):659-667. 2007.

[2] Biesalski HK, Chichili GR, Frank J, von Lintig J, Nohr D. (2007). "Conversion of beta-carotene to retinal pigment". Vitamins and hormones. 75: 117–30. doi:10.1016/S0083-6729(06)75005-1. ISBN 978-0-12-709875-3. PMID 17368314.

[3] Tanumihardjo SA (2002). "Factors influencing the conversion of carotenoids to retinol: bioavailability to bioconversion to bioefficacy." Int J Vit Nutr Res 72 (1): 40–5. doi:10.1024/0300-9831.72.1.40. PMID 11887751.

[4] Manetta A, Schubbert T, Chapman J, Schell M. J, Peng Y. M, Liao S. Y, Meyskens Jr, F. J. (1996). "Beta-Carotene treatment of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia: A phase II study". Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers & prevention, a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, co-sponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology 5(11): 929–932. PMID 8922303.

[5] Food and Agriculture Organization/World Health Organization (1967). "Requirement of Vitamin A, Thiamine, Riboflavin and Niacin." FAO Food and Nutrition Series B. Rome.

[6] Driskel J. (2007). Sports Nutrition: Fats and Proteins. Boca Raton, Fla: Taylor & Francis Group, p. 4.11 76.

[7] Sports Medicine, Volume 36, Number 4, 2006 , pp. 293-305(13)

[8] Pelletier X, Belbraouet S, Mirabel D, Mordret F, Perrin JL, Pages X, Debry G."A Diet Moderately Enriched in Phytosterols Lowers Plasma Cholesterol Concentrations in Normocholesterolemic Humans." Ann Nutr Metab 1995;39:291–295 (DOI: 10.1159/000177875).  

Topics: SUPERFOOD
Samantha Jones
- Samantha Jones is a graduate of the University of Alabama, where she earned her bachelor's degree in communication and information sciences. Throughout her scholastic career,...
Samantha Jones
- Samantha Jones is a graduate of the University of Alabama, where she earned her bachelor's degree in communication and information sciences. Throughout her scholastic career,...
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