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Summer squash

There are two groups of squash, the summer, which includes zucchini and the winter squash that includes pumpkin. The summer squash is picked immature and entire vegetable can be eaten with no need to cook. They are cooling for those hot summer days and a very good source of nutrients.

Summer squash
The thermal nature is cooling.
The flavour is .
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What it is

Squash, which are botanically a fruit, are considered a vegetable in the kitchen. Vegetable is not a scientific term, but refers to vegetal foods used in the kitchen for cooking more savory, non-desert meals. Squash are generally divided into 2 groups, the winter squash, including pumpkin and the summer squash including zucchini. Summer squash are harvested in the growing season while they are immature, with the skins still soft and the fruit small. They are eaten soon after picking and need no cooking.

Squash was one of the "Three Sisters" planted by Native Americans. The Three Sisters were the three main indigenous plants used for agriculture: maize (corn), beans, and squash. These were usually planted together, with the cornstalk providing support for the climbing beans, and shade for the squash. The squash vines provided ground cover to limit weeds. The beans provided nitrogen fixing for all three crops. 


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What is in it

Summer squash are an excellent source of Vitamin C and Manganese and a very good source of fiber, the minerals magnesium, copper, potassium, phosphorus and Vitamin A and K and folate. Summer Squash is also a good source of omega3 fatty acids, protein, the minerals, iron, calcium and zinc and the vitamins B1 (thiamin) B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin) and B6 (pyridoxine).


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What it is good for

Summer Squash has an influence on the stomach and the spleen

• Reduces inflammations and burns (apply fresh juice to relieve burns)
• The squash and its seeds destroy worms, the seeds are more effective
• Help reduce heat conditions if eaten raw or lightly cooked
• Diuretic
• Aid urination
• Helps overcome edema


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When you get it

Summer squash can be found in markets all year around although they are best in the summer. months.


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Which to select

Choose vegetables that are firm to the touch with a smooth skin free of bruises or blemishes.

Why Choose Organic Squash
Choose organically grown summer squash. To eat organic means to live cleanly, free of pesticides and toxins. It is a conscious choice. One made in order to survive right along with the planet that sustains us. Organically grown foods do not over-run the landfills with toxic waste from their farming or subject your body to unhealthy toxins. For your health and for the planet, choose to eat organic foods. To understand more about why organic is better please read our “Why Organic?” special feature.


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Where to store

Store summer squash in the vegetable crisper in your refrigerator where it will keep for up to a week.


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How to use

Wash squash well in cold water to remove any debris and dirt.

Summer squash can be eaten raw and whole. There is no need to remove the skins or seeds. They can be cooked lightly or not at all, the less cooking the more nutrients they retain.
 


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How much you need

To reach your health goals and become healthy the most important step is to eat a well balanced diet of food from across all the food groups. 

For an average person 
 
Servings per food group:
• Whole Grains (Carbohydrates):  6 – 8 
• Meat and beans (Protein):  1 – 2 
• High quality fats: 1
• Dairy:     2 – 3
• Fruit: 2
• Vegetables: 5
• Water: 6

This list is of recommended daily amount of each food group for an average person 19 to 50 years old with a low level of exercise (30minutes of less a day). If you are older you may need a little less, if you are younger, a little more and if you are very active even more food should be eaten. For more information on serving sizes see our special feature on Sizing Up A Serve.

It is important to ensure that the foods that you eat are of a high quality. The highest quality product is one that is fresh, whole and organic.

Fresh – over time the quality of nutrients degrades with their potency dying off.

Whole – many foods, particularly vegetarian foods carry a lot of their nutrients in their outer skins. So leave bran, germs and skins on the food where possible; always with grains and whenever the fruit of vegetable permits.

Organic – ensure you have the cleanest food by using only foods that are grown without pesticides, or other chemicals, in a natural way as people have in all bar the last 80 years of history. Chemical burdened foods are a modern invention designed to increase output with little regard to the health of the end user.


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Things to watch out for

Summer squash are a relatively safe vegetable to eat.


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References

The Journal of Nutrition – The American Society for Nutrition, http://jn.nutrition.org, retrieved 05/2009.

Wikipedia, Summer Squash, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Summer_squash, retrieved 05/2009.

Prepared by the editors at Harvard Health Publications in consultation with Meir J. Stampfer, M.D., Dr.P.H., Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition, Vitamins and Minerals: What you need to know,  Harvard School of Public Health, 2008.

Bratman, Steven, and David Kroll. Natural Health Bible. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1999.

Paul Pitchford. Healing with whole food, North Atlantic Books, 2002.

Goldman L, Ausiello D. Cecil Textbook of Medicine. 22nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: WB Saunders, 2004.

Norton Greenberger M.D. and Roanne Weisman, 4 Weeks to Healthy Digestion, Harvard School of Public Health. (2008)


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