Healthy Foods for Pregnancy: Why You Need Acorn Squash in Your Prenatal Diet
Posted on 23 December 2016
Squash is one of the healthiest foods a mum-to-be can consume during her pregnancy. With our summer squash staples (zucchini and yellow squash) now out of season, pregnant mamas need a new squash to prepare for chillier autumn days.
The tasty acorn squash (higher in nutrient content than summer squash) is in season beginning in early fall through winter, and can be prepared a variety of ways! It also has quite a few health benefits for pregnant mamas, including some beauty benefits, too. Let’s dive deeper into what makes this gorgeous, fall-hued food so good for you.
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It’s good for your (and baby’s) vision
Vitamin A is abundant in the acorn squash! A 4” squash has about 30% of what you need in a day. (Pregnant women need 770 mcg/day of Vitamin A.) The most vision development is happening from week 4 of pregnancy (when the optic nerves form) up until week 26 when your baby’s eyes are almost fully formed. They can even open their eyelids in utero!
It’s important to get your daily dose of Vitamin A during this period so that your baby’s eyes can be formed as well as possible. Vitamin A can also help prevent cataracts and other degeneration of the eyes later in life for you – it also gives you beautiful skin that heals well (which will come in handy after delivery.)
It can help prevent gestational diabetes
Acorn squash has complex carbohydrates that can help stabilize and regulate blood sugar. It also has a good supply of B-vitamins and dietary fiber that also play a key role in our blood sugar regulation.
Vitamin C gives your immune system a boost
Vitamin C makes your body create more white blood cells that have the task of defending your body from certain illness-causing bacteria and viruses. When you’re growing a baby, you want to give your baby the healthiest living quarters possible. Vitamin C is also very important in the development of your baby’s bones and muscles. Vitamin C is needed to make collagen, which helps form the skeletal system and other organs (and helps decrease signs of aging). It is recommended that pregnant women get 85 mg/day, and 1 cup of acorn squash has 18%!
It helps combat your digestive problems
Pregnancy brings with it constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, and other not so pleasant dietary symptoms caused by different hormone fluctuations and the position your baby has decided to rest in for the moment. The high fiber content in acorn squash helps regulate these symptoms, and helps your body get rid of toxins. Bonus– dietary fiber plays a role in decreasing your chance of high blood pressure, heart attacks, and other cardiovascular symptoms.
It reduces the risk of preeclampsia
Acorn squash is high in potassium, which helps relax your blood vessels (also called vasodilators.) Relaxed blood vessels means that you heart doesn’t have to work as hard to pump blood to you and your baby. Anything you can do to lower your potentially high blood pressure including eating fresh, whole foods high in potassium, calcium, and fiber, along with daily exercise can help prevent your risk of preeclampsia. You need 4,700 mg of potassium each day during pregnancy, and 1 cup of cubed acorn squash has 490 mg (a little over 10%).
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It might give you that pregnancy glow!
Acorn squash can help give you the beautiful, glowy skin you’ve always wanted. It works its magic from the inside out! The high Vitamin A content that we mentioned earlier helps your skin stay firm and healthy. The Vitamin C also does an excellent job of preventing the effects of aging like wrinkles and abnormal pigmentation, and heals and hydrates your skin.
Overall, acorn squash is extremely abundant in so many vitamins and mineral (even more than we listed in this article!), making it a perfect pregnancy food. You can prepare it a variety of ways, but out favorite has to be simply roasting it with a few of your favorite spices like sage or cinnamon. Try this recipe!
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Favorite Roasted Acorn Squash:
Prep time | 10 minutes
Cook time | 45 minutes
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
- Wash the acorn squash and dry it off with a towel, then use a large kitchen knife to slice it down the middle, starting just underneath the stem and slicing all the way around until you reach the other side. Now just pull the squash apart and slice the stem off of whichever side it remained.
- Scoop out the seeds with a spoon (you can save them for later for roasting – they’re a great source of omega 3!)
- Rub a baking sheet or dish with olive oil so that the squash doesn’t stick to the pan.
- Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, ½ tsp cinnamon, ¼ tsp allspice, and 1 tbsp brown sugar.
- Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes or until you can pierce it easily with a fork.
- Let it cool and serve.
(No judgments if you eat the whole thing – we did.)