The sights and sounds of the fall season are here, and so is the season for warming up the house with a home-cooked meal. Experts from the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County recommend trying out new recipes that take advantage of all the nutrition – and tasty “comfort food” flavors -- packed into the familiar winter squash.

“The Freeholder Board is very proud to partner with the Rutgers Cooperative Extension to bring reliable, science-based information to the community,” said Freeholder Chairman Bruce H. Bergen. “This new information about the health benefits of winter squash may surprise you.”

In a new article titled “Why is Winter Squash so Healthy for You to Eat,” Extension head and nutrition expert Dr. Karen M. Ensle of Rutgers University details some of the findings.

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Butternut squash, for example, has a high fiber content that helps to lower blood cholesterol and stabilize blood glucose levels.  It is rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene, which enhances skin and eye health.  Its high mineral content also helps the heart to beat normally, which can assist with exercise and fitness activities.

Modern winter squash is can trace its roots back to wild varieties found in an area between Mexico and Guatemala and used for food thousands of years ago. Now it is cultivated around the globe.

“From South America to Africa to India and Asia and even in some parts of the United States, no single food provides a greater percentage of certain carotenoids than winter squash,” said Dr. Ensle.

The Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Union County is supported in part by the Freeholder Board. For information on all Extension programs for Union County residents, including Master Gardeners, Master Tree Stewards and 4-H youth clubs, visit online at ucnj.org/rce or call the Extension offices in Westfield, 908-654-9854 (press “2” for assistance).

For recipe tips and more information about winter squash, and other news about nutrition and community health, visit the “Health Tips” link at ucnj.org/rce.

For all Union County programs and services visit ucnj.org, call the Public Info Line, 877-424-1234, email info@ucnj.org or use the online Contact Form.

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