3 Heart-Healthy Reasons to Eat More Acorn Squash

3. Maintain Healthy Blood Pressure

Another powerful cocktail of nutrients found in acorn squash—magnesium, zinc and potassium—helps to lower blood pressure, and each of these minerals play a critical role in the process. For example:

  • Potassium keeps your blood pressure balanced when there's too much salt in your bloodstream.
  • Zinc is key to arterial blood pressure, helping to maintain a delicate balance of high and low. With too little zinc in your body, you may suffer from high cholesterol.
  • Magnesium "is a critical player in maintaining normal blood pressure levels, as well as muscle and nerve function, [and] blood sugar regulation, ?" says Lisa Nelson a dietician at HealthCentral.com.

More: 7 Foods to Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

2 Heart-Healthy Recipes

The benefits of acorn squash seem to be endless. Reap all the goodness from this winter vegetable with these two delicious recipes.

Savory Stuffed Squash

1 acorn squash
1/2 cup barley
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup vegetable or mushroom broth, low-sodium
1 handful mushrooms, chopped
5 large kale leaves, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
10 cherries, pitted and chopped
10 pistachios, shelled and crushed
2 tbsp. minced garlic
1 tbsp. poultry seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your stove to 450 degrees. Cut the acorn squash in half, scrape the seeds out, and put a small amount of water in the bottom of a medium-size bowl. Place one half of your squash cut-side down in the bowl. Note: it should not be touching the water. Place this in the microwave for five minutes, and then do the same for the other half.

While the squash is precooking, put water and vegetable broth in a pot with the poultry seasoning, 1 tablespoon of the minced garlic, salt and pepper. Bring everything to a boil, add in the barley, cover, and let this sit for 15 to 20 minutes until the barley is soft and the liquid is gone.

Meanwhile, put the mushrooms, onion and kale in a pan with your oil of choice, 1 tablespoon of minced garlic, salt and pepper. Let this cook for 5 to 10 minutes, and then add half of your crushed pistachios and the cherries.

Stir the barley and vegetables together, and place this mix in the squash. Top both halves with the rest of your crushed pistachios and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the nuts have browned.

More: For Women: Know Your Risk of Heart Disease

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