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The distinctive gourd shaped butternut squash is considered to be a super-food and, according to the USDA, is one of the top 10 food sources containing high levels of carotenoids such as beta-carotene. The body naturally converts carotenoids into vitamin A, which combined with a substantial daily amount of vitamin C and zinc, totals an abundance of antioxidants which protect the cells of the skin. This means butternut squash has the potential to benefit the skin in several ways.
As well as possible anti-cancer benefits, the vitamins A and C in butternut squash may also slow the aging process. Antioxidants fight harmful free radicals and are said to protect against environmental damage from the sun and pollution. They also protect the collagen and elasticity of the skin cells, which can deter wrinkles. Many marketed skincare products include antioxidants in their formulas.
Eat It Up
Butternut squash when eaten regularly could benefit the skin due to its powerful and protective nutrients. The hard flesh of the fruit becomes soft and sweet when used in soups or mashed like potato and is delightful cooked and cubed served cold in a salad. Combine it with other skin friendly veggies such as carrots, tomatoes and greens which are also high in beta carotene.
Many manufacturers of commercial products are limited as to what ingredients they can use to create their products. Some natural ingredients may not be suitable for long-term shelf life or mass production, but that doesn't mean you can't have a go at making your own skin treatments. Another way to reap the nutritional benefit of butternut squash is to make your own face mask. Place slices of raw squash directly over your face or mash and mix up some cooked squash with oatmeal or avocado for a rejuvenating mask. Other ingredients to try are lemon, honey and yogurt. Do a patch test first if you have sensitive skin.
A Few Facts & Tips
Butternut squash is a winter squash, which are the most nutrient dense. Look for medium-sized squash which feel heavy, with a firm outer layer. Other squashes include pumpkin and zucchini. Check out other beta-carotene rich orange, yellow and dark green leafy vegetables and fruits, such as carrots, sweet potato, spinach and watercress.