More Than Skin Deep

Winter squash is a very starchy vegetable – about 90% of its total calories come from carbohydrate and about half of this carbohydrate is starch-like in its composition. However, recent research has made it clear that all starch is not the same and the starch content of winter squash brings along with it some key health benefits. Many of the carbs in winter starch come from polysaccharides found in the cell walls. These polysaccharides include pectins – specially structured polysaccharides that in winter squash often include special chains of D-galacturonic acid called homogalacturonan. An increasing number of animal studies now show that these starch-related components in winter squash have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, as well as anti-diabetic and insulin-regulating properties.

 Linoleic acid (the polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid) and oleic acid (the same monounsaturated fatty acid that is plentiful in olive oil) account for about 75% of the fat found in the seeds. By roasting the seeds for a relatively short time at a low temperature you can help minimize damage to their healthy oils. Place the seeds in a single layer on a cookie sheet and lightly roast them at 160-170 F in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

~~Erica Vaughn, Produce Manager

Excerpts from The World’s Healthiest Foods: Squash, Winter and Golden Squash Soup.

photo credit: Ed Gaillard