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Squash may have anti-diabetic properties

Nov. 9, 2012 at 6:02 PM

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Nov. 9 (UPI) -- Squash is mostly starchy carbohydrates but studies show it has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties, a U.S. food expert says.

"Squash includes both winter and summer varieties, some examples include, zucchini from the summer and butternut, buttercup, acorn, pumpkin and kabocha from winter," Phil Lempert, a food industry analyst, trend watcher and creator of supermarketguru.com, said in a statement.

"Many of the carbs in winter starch come from polysaccharides found in the cell walls. These polysaccharides include pectins -- specially structured polysaccharides that in winter squash often include special chains of D-galacturonic acid called homogalacturonan. An increasing number of animal studies now show that these starch-related components in winter squash have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, as well as anti-diabetic and insulin-regulating properties."

Although the squash is botanically classified as a fruit, many consider it a vegetable for culinary purposes. The carotenoids, including lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin, give many squash its signature orange color and are good for eye health.

Squash contains vitamin C, potassium, fiber, manganese and folate, omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins and copper.

Most varieties of squash start out green and turn orange when ripe but some are actually ripe when green. When choosing for cooking or baking, look for fruits that are heavy for their size with a hard shell, Lempert advised.

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Topics: Phil Lempert
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