Acorn squash (botanical name Cucurbita pepo L. var. turbinata) is also known as Des Moines squash or pepper squash. This variety of squash has characteristic linear creases and a sugary, yellowish-orange flesh. While the vegetable is known as a winter squash, acorn squash is a member of the species that also includes summer squashes, such as yellow crookneck squash and zucchini.
The most ordinary type of acorn squash has a deep green hue, frequently with a solitary orange splotch on the top or its side. Nevertheless, various latest varieties of acorn squash have now appeared in the market, counting the golden acorn, which has derived its name from its radiant yellow hue, and the different white varieties. In addition, variegated or multi-colored acorn squashes are also available these days. Like the name of this acorn squash variety suggests, its shape bears a resemblance to an acorn. Usually, acorn squashes weigh anything between one and two pounds and their length may vary from 4 inches to 7 inches. When stored properly, acorn squash is excellent and hardy enough to be stored all through the winter. Acorn squash can be stored for several months in a cool, dry places, like a cold cellar.
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It is very easy to cultivate acorn squash. The seeds are sown once the last threat of frost in the area is over and the soil becomes warm. On the other hand, acorn squash seeds may also be sown three to four weeks prior to the expected last frost date in the area where you want to cultivate this vegetable. The seeds are sown directly about one inch into the soil and at intervals of about six feet from one another. Like other varieties of squash, acorn squash also bears yellow edible flowers, which resemble trumpets. The tops or aerial parts of the plants are also edible.
In the Philippines, acorn squash is a very common vegetable, like the greens. The stem of this plant has a bristly feeling. Acorn squash is all set for harvesting about 85 days from the germination day. It takes roughly a week to 10 days to curate the plants when grown in a sheltered area outdoors or any warm and arid place, such as an arid storage location, which is sheltered from frosts.
Most often, people consume acorn squash after baking it. In addition, it can also be steamed, sautéed or micro waved. You may also stuff acorn squash with rice, mixed vegetables or meat. Even the seeds of acorn squash are edible - they are generally consumed after toasting them.
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Acorns quash is native to North as well as Central America. The Native Americans introduced this vegetable to the early settlers from Europe.
Considering its relatively small size, acorn squash is highly loaded with nutrients, which are diverse in range. Like many other vegetables and fruits, acorn squash contains elevated levels of dietary fiber. At the same time, this vegetable contains very low levels of cholesterol, saturated fat and sodium. As far as the vitamin and mineral content of this vegetable is concerned, acorn squash is densely packed with vitamin A, vitamin C, thiamine, pantothenic acid and several other B vitamins. In addition, acorn squash also contains a wide variety of minerals, which is really impressive. It encloses a number of essential minerals like calcium, manganese, potassium, magnesium, phosphorous, iron and copper.
Apart from the nutrients mentioned above, acorn squash contains high levels of carbohydrates too. Although this vegetable does not contain any simple sugar, which is generally present in carbohydrates, they fill up the body with regards to calories. People who are on low-carb diets and consume acorn squash should essentially consume an additional fruit with a view to balance their dietary curbs.
As mentioned above, acorn squash is a wonderful natural resource of vitamin C - thus, consuming this vegetable is a good way to perk up your immune system. Also called ascorbic acid, vitamin C works to encourage white blood cell production. White blood cells are effective in protecting the body from pathogens as well as various harmful microbes and germs. In addition, vitamin C is also vital for the development of our body, with regards to the blood vessels, muscle tissues, organs, skin, and even teeth. This nutrient also works in the form of a very potent antioxidant, facilitating the protection of the body from grave conditions like heart diseases and specific cancer forms.
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Acorn squash contains significant amounts of vitamin A. In addition to this valuable nutrient, acorn squash also contains very elevated levels of beta carotene, which is an excellent antioxidant for our system. Precisely speaking, beta carotene has been directly associated with lessening oxidative trauma in the eyes. In other words, this denotes that intake of vitamin A through acorn squash consumption helps to prevent development of macular degeneration as well as cataracts.
Apart from defending the eyes, vitamin A also has a vital function in sustaining the health of our skin. Antioxidant amalgams obtained from vitamin A, in addition to the additional vitamins present in acorn squash, guarantee that the skin has a youthful look. At the same time, helps to get rid of scars and blemishes, accelerates healing injuries and wounds as well as protect the skin from pathogens and premature aging.
Probably, dietary fiber is the most important constituent of acorn squash. Just one serving of acorn squash encloses about 9 grams of dietary fiber, which is in excess of one-third of our daily requirement of this nutrient. Intake of dietary fiber through consumption of acorn squash not only adds bulk to bowel movements, but also helps to ease constipation and get rid of diarrhea, bloating and cramping.
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Moreover, dietary fiber also aids in regulating the blood sugar levels in our body and, in this way, it helps to avoid developing diabetes. It is also beneficial for those with diabetes, as it is effective in keeping the glucose levels in the bloodstream stable. Last, but not the least, dietary fiber also facilitates the elimination of surplus cholesterol from the body, and, in doing so, helps to prevent the development of atherosclerosis and subsequent cardiovascular problems, such as heart attacks and strokes.
Almost all varieties of squash contain elevated levels of potassium, making them very delectable as well as effective for keeping the blood pressure levels stable and at safe levels. Potassium is an effective vasodilator. In other words, this essential mineral helps to relax or widen the blood vessels, especially the arteries. In this way, potassium helps to lower the strain on the heart, thereby lowering high blood pressure. In addition, this essential mineral also facilitates the regulation of fluid equilibrium within the cells and tissues, thereby perking up the efficiency of metabolism and, at the same time, maintaining the proper functioning of the cellular and enzymatic pathways in the body. On the other hand, presence of magnesium in acorn squash helps to regulate potassium uptake. Therefore, the presence of high amounts of magnesium in this vegetable makes the beneficial effects of acorn squash further potent.
As discussed earlier, acorn squash contains an assortment of essential minerals, counting calcium, iron, phosphorus, manganese and copper. Several of these essential minerals are vital for new bone development, in addition to the regeneration as well as healing of the existing bone mass in the body. Having a significant diversity of minerals in our body can prove to be helpful in preventing osteoporosis and, at the same time, makes sure that our bones are sturdy and function properly even when we grow older.
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While several foods contain antioxidants, acorn squash is especially beneficial because it has extremely elevated amounts of vitamin C and beta carotene - two tremendously effectively and potent antioxidant compounds. This is significant, as consumption of acorn squash helps to counteract the harmful free radicals even before they are able to mutate the healthy cells in our body. The antioxidants present in acorn squash not only put off the development of various forms of cancer, but also thwart cognitive disorders from occurring. In addition, these antioxidants also help to prevent untimely aging and a variety of other grave health conditions that are generally related to oxidative stress caused by free radicals.
Acorn squash is also beneficial for those suffering from asthma, as this vegetable has been found to promote the health of the lung. The various other health benefits of this vegetable include its aptitude to significantly diminish birth defects. This is the main reason why pregnant women are often advised to incorporate acorn squash in their diet. Consumption of acorn squash is beneficial for such women, as it also protects the child from deformities at birth.
It has also been found that consumption of acorn squash is also beneficial for men with enlarged prostate gland. This vegetable helps them to get instant relief from the symptoms related to this condition.
It has been observed that consuming acorn squash on a regular basis also helps to reinforce the body's immune system. This advantage of consuming acorn squash is believed to be a significant health benefit, because a robust immune system helps the body to defend itself from various diseases, including the common cold and flu.
Considering all the above mentioned health benefits of acorn squash, it has been discovered that this vegetable is not only a very important element of our everyday diet, but an effectual natural medication for treating a variety of health conditions.