Butternut Squash vs Sweet Potato - Nutrition facts, Health Benefits, Side Effects

Butternut Squash

Botanically known as Cucurbita moschata (Cucurbitaceae family), this vegetable was created by cross-breeding Hubbard squash and Gooseneck squash.

It is also referred as winter squash and is usually harvested in the fall, however, it can stay fresh and good to be consumed well for several months.

Nutrition Facts

It is a good source of vitamin C, vitamin B1, magnesium, vitamin B2, calcium, vitamin B3, dietary fiber, vitamin B6, copper, iron, manganese, potassium, and phosphorus.

Health Benefits

Eye Health

It is one of the best sources of four carotenoids: beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, zeaxanthin, and lutein. The human body transforms carotenoids into retinol, a form of vitamin A (that is usually found in dairy products, meats, and eggs) required for healthy skin and eyes. Beta-carotene is the most studied carotenoid and is also linked with a considerably reduced risk of some type of cancers, especially lung cancer.

Keeps Bones Strong

The manganese in this vegetable is beneficial for prevention of osteoporosis (a frequent bone condition in women over 50) and bone health. Manganese is an essential mineral required for a variety of vital functions, like – production of digestive enzymes and immune-system defenses.

The signs and symptoms of a deficiency in manganese may include – heart ailments, hypertension, bone malformation, muscular contraction, severe memory loss, poor eyesight, high LDL and total cholesterol, hearing trouble, shivers, and even tremors.

Cancer Prevention

One protein found in this remarkable vegetable has been found to inhibit the growth of skin cancer cells, making it an effective anticancer agent. This is good news since cancer is one of the primary causes of mortality and morbidity in the United States as well as worldwide, with more than 17 million new cases per year.

Lowers Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is defined as high pressure in the arteries – the vessels which transport blood from the heart to the rest of the body. According to the American Heart Association, about 85 million Americans have hypertension, which is approximately 1 in every 3 adults over 20.

A one cup serving of this nutritious vegetable has nearly 500 mg of potassium (about 10 percent of the daily recommended intake), that can help decrease blood pressure by counteracting the effects of overconsumption of sodium in the western diet.

Tip – to cook it, you can place it on a cookie sheet and bake in the oven for 60 minutes, or until you can easily pierce it with a sharp knife.

Side Effects

There are no scientifically proven side effects.

Sweet Potato

It is an underground tuber that grows on the roots of a plant known botanically as Ipomoea batatas.

Nutrition Facts

It is an excellent source of potassium, vitamin B6, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin B1, phosphorus, vitamin B2, magnesium, vitamin B3, dietary fiber, manganese, iron, copper, and protein.

One of the most important nutritional benefits of this vegetable is that it is rich in an antioxidant known as beta-carotene (gram per gram, it is probably the best source), that converts to vitamin A once ingested.

Note – according to a 2007 study issued in “Food Chemistry,” the purple varieties contain more antioxidants and carotenoids than the white-fleshed varieties.

Health Benefits

Cancer

A regular nutrition high in beta-carotene protects against prostate cancer, according to a study conducted by the Harvard School. Also, beta-carotene is transformed in the body into vitamin A, which is essential for immune function and eye health.

More importantly, polyphenols in this vegetable (like – peonidins and cyanidins) have an effective counter effect on cancer cell growth.

Cardiovascular Health

The high potassium content in this vegetable is elevated enough to lower blood pressure, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

In addition, is it an excellent source of vitamin B6, that is involved in the breaking of homocysteine, a substance which contributes to arteriosclerosis.

Good For Diabetics

Diabetes is a metabolic disease described by high levels of blood sugar, that leads over time to serious damage to the blood vessels, heart, eyes, nerves, and kidneys. The global prevalence of diabetes (more than 90 percent of the cases are type 2 diabetes mellitus) among adults over 18 years of age has reached 9 percent in 2015.

This vegetable is considered low on the glycemic index scale, plus, it may reduce insulin resistance in individuals with this metabolic disease.

Improves Digestion

The high content of dietary fiber in this vegetable promotes a healthy digestive system and prevents constipation or diarrhea.

It contains both insoluble (in the form of cellulose) and soluble (in the form of pectin) fiber. Dietary fiber is also important for increasing satiety, feeding the good gut bacteria, and appetite control.

A 1-cup serving of this vegetable contains approximately 8 grams of fiber that is more than 30 percent of the recommended daily intake.

Side Effects

There are no scientifically proven side effects.

Butternut Squash vs Sweet Potato – Which Has A Better Nutritional Profile?

Both these vegetables are nutritious and should be included in your regular diet. However, sweet potatoes have a superior nutritional profile due to their higher content of vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), vitamin B5, vitamin B6, copper, and manganese.

References

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=63
https://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/potatoes
https://www.uaex.edu/publications/PDF/FSA-6135.pdf

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