Although summer squash has long been recognized as an important food source of carotenoids, only recently have research studies documented just how fantastic summer squash can be when it comes to these key antioxidants. For some groups of study participants, summer squash turns out to be the primary food source of alpha-carotene and beta-carotene in the entire diet! For lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-cryptoxanthin (three other health-supportive carotenoids) summer squash also comes out among the top three food sources in several studies.
When we think about food and antioxidants, what first comes to mind might be fresh fruit and vitamin C, or bright orange carrots and beta-carotene. Yet several recent studies have underscored the unique contribution made by summer squash to our antioxidant requirements. While not as rich in some of the more widely-publicized antioxidants like beta-carotene, summer squash is a very strong source of other key antioxidant nutrients, including the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin. Since the skin of this food is particularly antioxidant-rich, it's worth leaving the skin intact and purchasing organic summer squash to help avoid potential unwanted contaminants.
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