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SQUASH ILL HEALTH
It's a vegetable that's associated with being sick and almost never a childhood favourite. Squash is, nevertheless, a powerhouse of vitamins. Eating squash is a natural way to make your heart healthier, lower high blood pressure, and ward off cancer. Vegetables from the squash family like pumpkin, gourd, zucchini are easily available and sit light in your stomach. Pumpkin, like other richly colored vegetables, is an excellent source of carotenes. Generally, the richer the color, the richer the concentration. Squash is also a very good source of vitamins B1 and C, folic acid, pantothenic acid, fibre, and potassium. Vitamin C helps to boost the immune system, prevent colds, and help fight allergies. The rinds of many squash are also a good source of fibre, which aids in proper digestion and is a vital element in preventing many types of disease. It is important when you eat squash to also eat the peel or rind, a common habit in Indian cuisine. Due to the carotene, pumpkins exert a protective effect against many cancers, particularly lung cancer. Diets that are rich in carotene offer protection against cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Studies have also shown that pumpkin seeds are helpful in reducing symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Gourd (or lauki as we call it) and zucchini have a high water content and are not as nutrient-dense as the pumpkin. Hence, these are more healthy if baked or steamed. Boiling squash or adding more water than necessary when cooking it depletes its nutrients. Low in calories, squash is especially beneficial in the summer months due to its higher water content which prevents dehydration while the carotenes help to protect against sun damage.
STAY AWAY FROM THAT SALT SHAKER
You've heard the phrase - low sodium diet - been bandied about but if you couldn't care enough to pay attention earlier, do so now. Sodium controls fluid balance in the body and maintains blood volume and blood pressure. A diet high in sodium may raise blood pressure, a common lifestyle problem for many of us, and cause fluid retention, resulting in swelling of the legs and feet. If that doesn't have you worried, then this should. High-sodium diets are linked to a higher risk for heart disease and stroke.
Interestingly, the human body needs only 69mg grams of sodium which is a lot more than the 3,000 mg that many of us end up consuming in a day. Just one teaspoon of salt contains approximately 2,000 mg of sodium, and fast food items are very high in sodium content. A low sodium diet is a diet that includes no more than 1,500 to 2,400 mgs of sodium per day. But less salt doesn't mean giving up on tasty food. Too often, we depend on processed foods or salty snacks like chips to satiate our hunger pangs whereas an apple or an orange would do just as well. Try and choose fresh items over canned goods. Learn to use spices like pepper and herbs like mint and parsley to enhance the taste of food rather than generously sprinkling salt. A squeeze of lemon makes anything taste good, especially steamed fish or vegetables. Cut back on bottled salad dressings and make your own vinaigrette at home. Avoid eating pickle or pickled food as salt is the most commonly used preservative. When eating outside, specify how you want your dish to be prepared. Most restaurants now follow dietary precautions and makes dishes with less salt.
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