The Medicinal Value of Summer Squash

Summer squash is used all over the world for its culinary and nutritional value. It is a good diet choice for those that want to lose some weight, because it has a very high content of water (94.6%), enough dietary fiber (1.1 g/100 g – 4%DV) and potassium and almost no sodium (2 mg/100g). It also has very few calories (only 16/100 g, and 3 of those calories come from proteins) and is free of saturated fat and cholesterol. But summer squash also has some medicinal value, due mostly to its content of antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and antihelmintic compounds.

11 - Summer squash

Composition and properties

Summer squash is a relatively good source of minerals (manganese: 0.2 mg/100 g – 9%DV; potassium: 262 mg/100 g – 7%DV; phosphorus: 38 mg/100 g – 4%DV; magnesium: 17 mg/100 g – 4%DV; copper: 0.1 mg/100 g – 3%DV; iron: 0.4 mg/100 g – 2%DV; and calcium: 15 mg/100 g – 1%DV), vitamins (vitamin C: 17 mg/100 g – 28%DV; vitamin B6: 0.2 mg/100 g – 11%DV; vitamin B2: 0.1 mg/100 g – 8%DV; folate: 29 mcg/100 g – 7%DV; vitamin K: 4.3 mcg/100 g – 5%DV; and vitamin A: 200 IU/100 g – 4%DV), lutein and zeaxanthin (2125 mcg/100 g), it contains phytosterols, flavonoids and enzymes with antihelmintic properties, and its seeds contain pectines, proteins, and an oil made of palmitic, stearic, oleic and linoleic acids. The phytosterols are good for lowering the cholesterol levels, while lutein, zeaxanthin, and the flavonoids are responsible for some antioxidative and anti-inflammatory actions. The antioxidant value of summer squash is rather low if we only take into account the Oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC). The ORAC value of summer squash is only 180, which is far below berries or spices (the ORAC value of ground nutmeg, for example, is 69,640). But these numbers represent the antioxidant capacity of 100 g of product, which means that summer squash can be considered a better source of antioxidants than, say, nutmeg, because you’ll definitely eat 39 kg of summer squash before you’ll consume 100 g of ground nutmeg.

Medicinal uses

  • Anxiety, nervousness (due to magnesium and B vitamins)
  • Macular degeneration, cataract (due to lutein and zeaxanthin)
  • Laryngitis, tracheitis, bronchitis (due to flavonoids)
  • Chronic heart disease (due to potassium, calcium, and flavonoids)
  • Inflammations of urinary system, prostatitis (due to flavonoids)
  • Water retention (due to potassium)
  • High cholesterol levels (due to phytosterols and folate)
  • Diabetes (due to phytosterols, potassium, dietary fiber, and water)
  • Arthritis, rheumatism (due to flavonoids)
  • Gastroenteritis, constipation (due to flavonoids, dietary fiber, and water)
  • Intestinal worms (due to certain enzymes)
  • Burns, bug bites

Preparation and administration

Marrow squash can be consumed in various dishes or as a juice, without peeling off the skin or rind. As an alternative, the seeds can be consumed raw or toasted, 50-60 g a day, or as a decoction.

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