Squash belong to the genus Cucurbita, and vary considerably in taste, texture and appearance. Spaghetti squash contains fibers that, once cooked, easily separate to form spaghetti-like strands. Consuming spaghetti squash provides your body with calories and essential nutrients, and the squash’s texture makes for a healthy addition to many recipes.
A melon-sized, oblong seed-bearing variety of winter squash. The fruit can range either from ivory to yellow or orange in color.
If you’re looking to restrict your caloric intake, eating spaghetti squash will help fill up your plate without adding lots of calories. Each cup of the cooked squash contains only 42 calories – 2 percent of the daily calorie intake on a 1,500-calorie diet, or 1.5 percent of a 2,000-calorie diet. Due to the squash’s low calorie content, substituting spaghetti squash in place of spaghetti pasta dramatically reduces the calorie content of your meal; substituting a cup of squash in place of pasta saves you 179 calories. If you normally eat spaghetti once a week, the calorie difference in switching to spaghetti squash translates to 2.5 pounds of weight loss over the course of a year.
Carbohydrates and Fiber
Spaghetti squash serves as a source of beneficial carbohydrates. Each cup of cooked squash contains approximately 10 grams of total carbohydrates, including 2.2 grams of fiber. Consuming fiber-containing foods like spaghetti squash offers a number of health benefits – the fiber forms a gel in your digestive tract that helps remove cholesterol from your body, helps your body regulate blood sugar and also helps you feel full for longer after your meal. Fiber also adds bulk to your stool, helping prevent constipation. The 8 grams of sugars and starch found in spaghetti squash also benefit your health, providing a source of energy for your cells.
Vitamins and Minerals
Consuming spaghetti squash also boosts your intake of essential vitamins and minerals. One cup of squash contains 170 international units of vitamin A, which is almost 6 percent of the recommended daily intake for men and 7 percent of the recommended intake for women, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. The squash also contains several B vitamins, as well as vitamins C, E and K. In addition, spaghetti squash provides a source of the essential minerals calcium, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium.
Preparing and Eating Spaghetti Squash
When cooking spaghetti squash, you can avoid adding calories to your food by selecting cooking methods that do not require large amounts of added fats or oils. Try baking or broiling the halved squash until it feels tender, then scraping the cooked insides with a fork to break the squash into strands. If you have time constraints, pierce the squash’s skin with a fork and cook it in the microwave. In addition to using spaghetti squash as a spaghetti substitute, try adding it to other dishes to boost your nutrient intake. Spaghetti squash makes for a delicious and nutritious ingredient in quiches or frittatas, or try blending the cooked squash into soups or savory sauces to add texture and flavor.