Butternut Squash Soup Health Benefits
One of the most physically fit people groups to ever live on our continent was the cliff-dwelling Ancestral Puebloans.
They didn’t have to go to the gym to find a rock climbing wall, because they lived on the side of a wall, and climbed almost everywhere they went.
Could their diet have contributed to their incredible strength?
When my family visited the Mesa Verde ruins in Colorado last November, we learned that seven hundred years ago the Ancestral Pueblo Anasazi people relied on “three sisters.”
That’s what they called the corn, beans, and squash they always planted together because – in the USDA’s words:
“Only together can they truly grow and thrive. The traditional Three Sisters garden forms its own ecosystem by creating a biologically diverse community.
This style of planting uses three different crops to their full potential, representing a circle of harmony and interdependence based on giving and receiving.”
The upright cornstalks supported the climbing bean vines, which in turn stabilized the cornstalks.
The ground-hugging squash vines’ leaves shaded the soil, preserving moisture and discouraging weeds.
Cooperation at its best!
The USDA continues:
“Corn, beans, and squash also complement each other nutritionally. Corn provides carbohydrates, the beans are rich in proteins, and the squash contains a number of vitamins and nutrients.”
What squash nutrient could account for the Tarahumara ultra-runners’ prodigious athleticism?
Butternut Squash Soup As a Muscle Mass Builder
Squash seeds are also a terrific source of L-arginine, an amino acid associated with weight loss and muscle building.
One study from Texas A&M’s Department of Animal Science Nutrition faculty concluded of L-arginine’s potential as a weight-loss aid:
“Thus, L-arginine holds great promise as a safe and cost-effective nutrient to reduce adiposity, increase muscle mass, and improve the metabolic profile in animals and humans.”
Butternut Squash Soup as a Mood Mellower
Researchers at Ontario’s Whitby Mental Health Centre tested de-oiled butternut squash seed meal in a double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover study on social anxiety disorder. They chose the seeds for their high tryptophan-to-protein ratio.
The brain converts tryptophan into serotonin, a natural relaxer and mood elevator. Thanksgiving dinner’s nap-inducing effect is often attributed to turkey’s high tryptophan content.
But the amount of tryptophan in turkey is only 0.24 per 100 grams. Compared to squash seeds with double the tryptophan at 0.58 per 100 grams.
No wonder why researchers chose to use butternut squash seeds for their study. The Whitby participants who received the squash seed meal had “significant improvement” in their anxiety levels compared to the placebo group.
Of course, the Colorado cliff dwellers had no research labs to test their food’s health-giving properties. But perhaps they intuitively connected their muscular physiques and even their relaxed dispositions with the squash they ate!
When enjoying Chef Ryan’s Butternut Squash Soup recipe, know that you’re not only eating a food that sustained the incredible Pueblo Anasazi people for centuries.
You’re also lifting your spirits and helping your body stay fit and trim!Print
Butternut Squash Soup
- Yield: 8 servings 1x
1 yellow onion
4 cloves garlic
2 large butternut squash
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp paprika
1 oz. tamari
1 oz. maple syrup
2 cans coconut milk
1 qt. Vegetable broth
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Peel, cut into 1 in. pieces, and roast squash in the oven for app. 30 min.
- Dice onion, mince garlic and sauté on medium heat in a large pot. Use a splash of broth or water if sticking to the pan.
- Add in all dry seasonings, leaving syrup, coconut milk, and broth out. Stir.
- When squash is done roasting, add maple syrup to the squash and stir.
- Move all contents of the baking sheet into the food processor. Add in onion and garlic mixture from skillet. Pulse on low until mixture is completely smooth.
- Bring squash mixture back to a stockpot and add in coconut milk and broth, stir.
- Let the soup simmer on low for 30 min.
- Top with cashew cream and pepita seeds or whatever topping you like!