Locally grown summer squash are starting to show up in area farm markets. Lucas Brothers at Stroop and Marshall, PNC 2nd Street Market, Liberty Market, Garden Station Sunday Market, and Sugarcreek Farm Markets all have several varieties of summer squash available. These tender squash are an excellent source of manganese and vitamin C, and a good source of vitamin A – all with terrific antioxidant properties – as well as a good source of the antioxidant carotenoids lutein, beta-cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin. The skin of the squash is particularly rich in antioxidants, so it is wise to purchase locally grown organic summer squash to avoid ingestion of pesticides or other unwanted contaminants.
The omega-3 fats contained in the seeds of the summer squash, combined with the aforementioned anti-inflammatory carotenoids lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-carotene work together with anti-inflammatory polysaccharides contained in the squash, making this vegetable an excellent choice as anti-inflammatory protection for the cardiovascular system and the GI tract.
The combination of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in summer squash make it a logical choice for providing anti-cancer benefits; many types of cancer depend upon chronic oxidative stress and chronic inflammation.
Both the antioxidant and the anti-inflammatory properties of the squash are better preserved if you steam the squash rather than boiling or microwaving it. Even squash that had been frozen still maintained these properties after steaming. Here is a simple recipe that requires no cooking and can be made ahead:
Marinated Raw Summer Squash
- 3 small yellow squash, sliced thinly
- 2 small zucchini, sliced thinly
- 1 red bell pepper cut into matchstick shapes
- 2 small shallots, minced
- 2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely snipped
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, finely snipped
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2-3 tablespoons wine vinegar or cider vinegar
- Juice of one lemon
Combine all ingredients in a bowl, and mix well. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least four hours and up to overnight. This may be served cold or at room temperature.
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