Among summer squash varieties are zucchini, yellow crook neck squash, yellow summer squash and scallop squash, to name a few. Packed with nutrition and a plethora of varied health benefits, summer squash are popular at roadside stands and farmer’s markets across the country.
Summer squash grows all over the United States, and is thought to originally hail from Mexico and South and Central America. Archaeologists have found preserved seeds in Mexican caves that are hypothesized to be over 10,000 years old.
This veggie is chock full of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, C, and B6, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, fiber, folate, riboflavin, manganese and zinc.
The high vitamin C content of summer squash makes it great for immune system support. Vitamin C also helps the body produce collagen, which is paramount in the creation of bone mass. The combination of iron, folate, phosphorus and zinc also contributes to healthy bones, and aid in the prevention of osteoporosis.
Summer squash is great for your heart. Folate is essential to removing a metabolic byproduct, homocysteine, from the body. The removal of homocysteine has been linked to reduced heart attack and stroke risk. Healthy fiber is also thought to lower heart disease rates, and has the added benefit of cleansing the body of toxins.
Beta carotene and lutein, found in large concentrations in summer squash, promote eye health. Lutein has been found by some studies to prevent macular degeneration and cataracts, which can lead to blindness. Beta carotene is famous for supporting optimal vision.
This seasonal veggie is also a great source of manganese, which aids the body in processing carbohydrates, fats and glucose. Additionally, it can help women experience fewer cramps and mood swings during their menstrual cycles, according to one clinical trial.
Growing Summer Squash
Summer squash is very easy to grow, making it a wonderful garden staple. It is happy in a raised bed, or even a container, making it a perfect fit for small-scale gardens.
The versatility of summer squash is hard to beat. It can be chopped up raw for use in salads, sauteed in organic olive oil with stir frys, or sliced and marinated for a delicious grilled dish. Also, it can be sliced thinly into squash ‘noodles,’ and used as a substitute for pasta topped with your favorite homemade pasta sauce.
The mild flavor of summer squash makes it easy to blend with a large variety of flavors, so the combinations and recipes are endless.
Enjoy all the rich benefits of summer squash while the season is upon us!