Squash – Properties and health benefits / medicinal uses

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The properties and health benefits /medicinal uses of squash are discussed below.

Botanical name: Cucurbita pepo L.
Other names: Pumpkin, Coyote melon, Courge, Gourd, Calabaza.

Squash are the fruits of the Cucurbita pepo L., of the botanical family Cucurbitaceae. Squash contains a fleshy pulp which in most cases is orange or yellow in color, with its center filled wiith small seeds. Their rinds also vary in color from orange, yellow, white, green, purple, as well as black.
Squash comes in different shapes, mainly spherical, ovoid, and bottle-shaped.

Properties of Squash
Below represents the components of squash.

• Squash contains carbohydrates in reasonable amount, representing about 6% of its total content.
• It also contains proteins but in low amounts, just about 1% of its total content.
• Squash contains virtually no fats.
• Squash contains significant amount of minerals, with provitamin A (bete-carotene) standing out among others.
• It also contains moderate amount of minerals such as calcium and potassium. Squash is among the lowest of any food in sodium, a mineral that is antagonistic to heart and arteries.
• Soluble vegetable fiber is also present in significant quantities in squash. Its presence gives it a satiating effect on the appetite.

Health benefits / medicinal uses of squash

The remarkable nutritional content of squash accounts for most of its medicinal values. All varieties of squash possess the following medicinal properties:
» Anticarcinogenic effect (cancer preventing)
» Laxative effect
» Hypotensive property, and
» Diuretic effect.

The above effects accounts for the medicinal uses of squash, and makes them highly indicated in cases of:

This effect of squash in preventing hypertension is straight-forward. As already known, sodium and potassium are two substances which can cause and prevent hypertension respectively. Squash contains virtually no sodium and contains rich amounts of potassium. The high potassium content of squash helps prevent hypertension and its complications such as stroke and arteriosclerosis.
For those with hypertension, the consumption of squash in any form, provided no salt is added, is highly recommended.

Cancer prevention
It is a known fact that the squash family (Cucurbitaceae) together with that of cabbage (Cruciferae), consitutes the foods with the highest cancer-preventing property. Squash contains the three most effective anticarcinogens (cancer-preventing substances), namely:
» Vitamin C
» Vegetable fiber, and
» Beta-carotene (provitamin A).
Thus, the consumption of starch is highly recommended for those willing to prevent cancer.

Kidney-related disorders
The consumption of squash is highly recommended in cases of renal disorders. This is due to its diuretic effect in the kidneys, by increasing urine production as well as facilitating the elimination of fluids from the body.

Coronary heart disease and Arteriosclerosis
Coronary heart disease is caused due to the deposition of cholesterol on the walls of the arteries supplying blood to the heart. This deposition not only make narrower the artery, but reduce the flow of blood to the heart. This condition is known as arteriosclerosis.
Cholesterol, being the main cause of coronary heart disease, are formed from the fats you eat in your food.
The consumption of squash at least three times a week is highly beneficaisl for those suffering from coronary heart disease.

The mild laxative effect of squash makes them highly recommended in cases of constipation. The fiber responsible for its laxative effect is a soluble one, and can in no way harm the intestine.

Stomach disorders
Squash has a soothing as well as a protective effect on the stomach lining (mucosa). Its pulp is also capable of neutralizing excess stomach acid due to the presence of alkalizing mineral salts in it.
Thus, the consumption of squash is highly indicated in cases of:
» Dyspepsia
» Excess stomach acid
» Heart burn (pyrosis), and
» Gastroduodenal ulcer.

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