Summer squash. The shiny, thin skinned green cucumber like vegetable is a gourmet’s delight.
It is nature’s gift to man to protect him from the harmful effects of the scorching sun.
Summer squash belongs to the ‘cucurbitaceae’ family and is close to melon and cucumber.
Even though there are many varieties available in different shapes, sizes and taste, the characteristics of all are same.
No part of it is a waste- skin, flesh and seeds- all form part of the diet. Even flowers of some are edible.
Some of the summer squash varieties are zucchini, crookneck and straight neck squash, patty pan squash, Italian marrow, etc.
Though available throughout the year, summer produces the best of the vegetable in its flavor and quality.
The benefits of summer squash are enumerated as follows:
1. The water content in summer squash protects one from dehydration in summer.
2. The vegetable is rich in fiber. Its consumption prevents constipation and clears up the toxins which cause cancer in the colon cells.
3. The folate, vitamin C and beta-carotene found in summer squash protect colon cells from chemicals that produce cancer.
4. The anti-inflammatory properties of the antioxidants vitamin C and beta-carotene become helpful in asthma, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
5. The element of copper in the vegetable also brings down the pain during rheumatoid arthritis.
6. The juice of summer squash has the qualities to prevent cell mutations which result in cancer.
7. The symptoms of benign prostalic hypertrophy (BPH) in men can be reduced by the consumption of summer squash. The effect is fortified when other phytonutrient rich food is taken.
8. Magnesium in summer squash reduces the risk of heart attack and strokes. It is also an anti-aging mineral.
9. Potassium and magnesium in the vegetable bring down the blood pressure.
10. Vitamin C and beta-carotene prevent the oxidation of cholesterol, protecting one from atherosclerosis.
11. Folate is helpful in breaking down homocysteine, a dangerous metabolic by product, if found in greater levels leads to heart attack and stroke.
12. The fiber content of summer squash brings down the high level of cholesterol, thus reducing the chances of atherosclerosis and diabetic heart diseases.
13. The fiber content gives you a feeling of fullness quickly. So it is helpful for dieters.
14. The low calorie nature of the vegetable is a boon to those who are conscious of weight gain.
15. The carotenes present in summer squash protect one from the damaging effects of the sun.
16. Manganese is an antioxidant found in summer squash. It helps in the breaking down of fats and cholesterol and in the metabolism of Vitamin B and E.
17. The iron content of summer squash helps in the formation of red blood vessels, supports the immune system and regulates the body temperature.
18. Zinc present in the vegetable also helps the immune system and healing of wounds.
19. Phosphorus found in summer squash strengthens bones and teeth. It helps in body metabolism and removes weakness.
20. Summer squash has also calcium which helps in wound healing, nerve and muscle formation. Also good for bone health and teeth.
21. Summer squash is helpful in maintaining good eyesight because of vitamin A in it.
22. Vitamin B6 is beneficial in reducing premenstrual symptoms. Summer squash has it.
23. Omega 3 fatty acids found in summer squash reduce the risk of heart diseases, help reduce premenstrual systems, etc.
24. Tryptophan in summer squashes can elevate your mood, help you relax, be restful and gives you good sleep.
25. Summer squash consumption can protect one from beriberi which is caused by the deficiency of vitamin B. Vitamin B helps in converting glucose to energy.
26. Vitamin B is helpful in the maintenance of the tissues of the skin and eyes, thus protecting from dry and scaly skin. It also helps in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats.
27. Summer squash has vitamin K which promotes coagulation of blood.
28. Vitamin B6 found in summer squash supports immune system and maintains the nerve tissues.
29. Niacin present in summer squash enables the body to use carbohydrates, fats, proteins and amino acids.
With so many health benefits to its credit, the regular intake of this vegetable is sure to make significant contribution to a healthy diet program.
This food item can easily be relished as a salad. It can also be steamed, grilled, stir fried or even added to any other dish.
Most of the nutrients are in the skin. So do not remove it.
Even while making bread and Indian paranthas, it can be grated and added. Reduce the water while kneading the dough by one third.
Summer squash flowers are also a great delicacy.
Enjoy summer with the squash-slice it, grate it or juice it.
About the Author: Mrs. Thankam Scott is a post graduate in commerce, has done two years diploma in theology. Basically a home maker, she is also an educationist, social activist, and a counselor. Is a volunteer of YWCA. She in interested in reading, writing, creative cooking, gardening, and stitching. Has participated in green food program and is actively practicing it.