The Quince and the Butternut Squash in the Mediterranean Diet

February 12, 2014

Quince and butternut squash are two of the most known autumn products of the Mediterranean. These two foods are usually underestimated and not used quite enough, while they are highly nutritious and can be cooked in many ways.

The Quince:

Also known as “golden apple”, as well as a symbol of love, quince is one of the most important allies of our health. Many believe that this oddly shaped yellowish fruit, which reminds an apple and a pear, existed before the apple. It is in fact considered that many apples mentioned in historic literature or mythology were indeed quinces, including the apple given to Adam by Eve. According to mythology, quince is connected to Venus, the goddess of beauty and love, while it is often mentioned that the golden apple that Paris gave to Helen of Troy, was a quince, and is thus considered the fruit of beauty and love.

Ancient Greeks thought it brings fertility and that is why it held a special place in weddings, where it was offered as a gift. Its origin is in Caucasus, but it is considered a native tree in the Mediterranean.

Other than its impressive history, this “golden” fruit promised to boost our health and that is why it should be in our “favorites” list.

How it is used: When it is ripe, it has a beautiful golden yellow color and can be used to make jam (which is the most common way quince is used in the Mediterranean), paste or even cakes. Quince can also be used as a side dish alongside savory meat recipes.

100gr. of quince provide about 60 calories and ~2gr. of fiber.

Nutritional value:

  • Quince is a good choice for people who are trying to lose weight and maintain a healthy body, as it is a high fiber food. Fiber can increase the feeling of satiety, thus helping eat less.
  • It is also very rich in antioxidants, which protect our body against free radicals and reduce the risk of having cancer.
  • Studies have shown that quince may also have antiviral properties.
  • Its consumption seems to be beneficial to people with gastric ulcer.
  • Quince juice has tonic, antiseptic and diuretic properties.
  • Frequent consumption of quince can prevent constipation, due to its fiber content.
  • It can also help reduce blood cholesterol, as less cholesterol is been absorbed in the intestine.
  • Quince has potassium, which helps the control of high blood pressure.
  • It has no saturated fatty acids, cholesterol and sodium, while it is a good source of fiber, vitamin C and copper.
  • Roasted or boiled quince can be used as an anti-vomiting treatment.
  • The fiber found in quince can help reduce LDL cholesterol.
  • Finally, even though there is not adequate literature, quince seems to have anti allergenic and anti-inflammatory properties. It is thus recommended for the treatment of atopic dermatitis, while it is considered a safe alternative for people with severe food allergies.

The Quince and the Butternut Squash in the Mediterranean Diet

The Butternut Squash:

It is one of the most common winter vegetables to be cultivated in the Mediterranean. It is considered to be a superfood because of its great concentration in vitamins and minerals, such as magnesium, potassium, pantothenic acid, vitamins C and E. But what makes the butternut squash stand out from other fruit and vegetables is its vast concentration in carotenoids. In terms of weight loss, it is a pleasure, as it is rich in nutrients and fiber (which help with the feeling of satiety), while it is poor in calories.

As for our health, butternut squash has also a lot to offer:

How it is used: Its pulp is often used to make pies, while its seeds are used as something to nibble on. Other than pies (which can be sweet or savory), it can be used to make velvet soups, and it can also be boiled or roasted with other vegetables or even added into cake recipes. The seeds can be roasted with salt and spices or with sugar and cinnamon and make a great and highly nutritious snack.

100gr. of butternut squash provide about 50 calories and ~2gr. of fiber.

Nutritional value:

  • Butternut squash is rich in vitamins, antioxidants and polyphenols. It is pretty low in calories, while it provides no saturated fats or cholesterol. It is a good source of fiber.
  • It is a very good source of vitamin A – 100gr. of butternut squash provide four times the recommended dietary allowance!!! Vitamin A is a very strong antioxidant, which is necessary to our body to maintain our skin integrity, while it is really important for our eye health. Studies show that the foods which are very rich in vitamin A help protect our body against lung and mouth cancer.
  • Moreover, butternut squash contains many natural flavonoids and polyphenols, such as a- and b-carotene and lutein. These compounds are transformed in our body into vitamin A, providing the benefits mentioned above.
  • It is rich in B vitamins, as riboflavin, niacin, thiamine and pantothenic acid.
  • Finally, butternut squash seeds are a great source of fiber and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which are beneficial for our heart. They are also a good source of protein, minerals and many vitamins.

Roula Gouroudi
About the author

Roula Gouroudi is a clinical dietitian from Greece. She has a blog in Greek, which you can check out, of course. You'll find it at the address

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