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Butternut Bursts with Immune Benefits

Fall markets are awash with squash – and butternuts one of the best at supporting immune function in anticipation of winter colds, thanks to their unique nutrient combination of vitamins A, C and E.

One cup of cooked butternut squash provides over 450% of your Daily Value of vitamin A – commonly known as the “anti-infective” vitamin for its role in developing immune and mucosal cells – cells that line the airways, urinary and digestive tracts – thus forming the body’s first line of immune defense. The same serving supplies over 50% of your Daily Value of vitamin C (helps inactivate viruses and may reduce the severity and duration of colds) and 13% of your Daily Value of vitamin E (shields immune cells from free radicals and may boost the production of bacteria-busting white blood cells). That 13% of daily vitamin E is nothing to sneeze at – especially when you consider its one of the highest fruit (yes, butternuts a fruit, not vegetable) sources, while even “top” E sources (like sunflower seeds) only supply roughly 30%.

More reasons to go nuts for butternut: One serving provides plenty of potassium, magnesium, fiber, manganese, vitamin B6, thiamin, niacin, and folate – all for just 82 calories. This gourmet gourd also supplies a top source of the antioxidant phytonutrients, beta-carotene (more than pumpkins), alpha-carotene (more than carrots), and beta-cryptoxanthin (best food source bar none). As mentioned in the last DNN, beta-cryptoxanthin may reduce the risk of polyarthritis (inflammation that affects at least two or more joint groups) as well as lung and prostate cancers.

Published November 7, 2005

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