Eat Squash every day for Weight Loss

All squash cultivars are good for weight loss. For instance, pumpkin, acorn, and butternut squash are packed with carotenoids and polyphenols, while containing decent amounts of B vitamins, vitamins C and E, fiber, copper, phosphorus, and many other compounds that stimulate fat burn and reduce appetite.

What’s the healthiest variety I should eat?

There isn’t a single “healthiest” squash variety as each offers a unique nutrient profile. All winter and summer squash varieties are nutritious and can be a healthy addition to your diet.

The world of winter squash offers a delightful variety in terms of flavor, texture, and nutrition. While they all share some common characteristics like being thick-skinned, great for roasting, and rich in vitamins and fiber, there are key differences to consider when choosing your perfect squash.

Include a variety of squashes in your diet to benefit from a wider range of nutrients. Focus on incorporating them into your meals and enjoy the variety of flavors and textures they offer.

Squash VarietyFiberVitamin A (Beta-Carotene)Vitamin CPotassiumOther Key NutrientsBest For
Acorn SquashHighModerateGoodExcellentSome B vitaminsGut health, blood pressure regulation
Butternut SquashGoodHighGoodGoodSome B vitaminsImmune function, vision
Spaghetti SquashLowModerateLowModerateNoneLow-carb diets, pasta alternative
Kabocha SquashHighGoodHighGoodAntioxidantsVitamin C, antioxidant boost
Delicata SquashGoodModerateModerateModerateManganeseFiber, mild flavor
Buttercup SquashModerateHighGoodGoodNoneVitamins A & C, creamy texture
PumpkinModerateHighGoodModerateNoneImmune function, vision. Can be sweeter for baking
Nutritional Value of Squash cultivars.[1]

While pumpkin is a type of winter squash, it’s often used differently than other winter squashes. It tends to have a sweeter flavor profile and is commonly used in pies and sweet dishes.

Winter vs Summer Squash

Summer and winter squash are cousins.

Winter squash are harvested after maturity. Their tough skin acts like armor, allowing them to be stored for months, making them an excellent survival food.

Butternut squash, acorn squash, and kabocha squash are all winter squash superstars. No matter the texture, winter squash shines in savory dishes. Roast them, add them to soups and stews, or whip them into creamy gratins. Some, like butternut squash, can even be incorporated into sweet treats.

Summer squash are picked young and tender. Their thin skins are edible, so no peeling is required. Best enjoyed fresh. Zucchini, yellow squash, and crookneck squash are popular summer squash varieties. Their softer, moister flesh makes them perfect for quick meals. Grill them, roast them, stir-fry them, or even enjoy them raw in salads for a refreshing summer crunch.

Benefits for Weight Loss

Squash can be part of a well-balanced, long-term diet plan for weight loss.[2]

They contain various bioactive compounds that are involved in energy metabolism, help burn fat, and protect from chronic low-grade oxidative stress which is a common cause of obesity.

Due to their rich nutritional value, squashes are recognized as a functional food that supports healthy aging. Among others, they have potent anti-inflammatory properties and protect the heart.[3]

Low in Calories

Above all, squash supports weight loss because it has a few calories. Raw squash has between 25 and 50 calories per 100g, depending on the variety.

Cooked winter squashes typically range from 40 to 80 calories per cup.

Summer squashes are generally lower in calories due to their higher water content. They can range from 20 to 40 calories per cup (cooked). For instance, zucchini has only 17 calories per cup!

Thus, all squash cultivars are suitable for an energy-restricted diet plan for weight loss.

Squash supports Weight LossPin

Fiber

Winter squash varieties have generally high amounts of fiber. A cup of acorn and butternut squash provides around 10% and 8% of the Daily Value, respectively. Zucchini and pumpkin provide only 2-3% DV, though.

Fiber adds bulk to your food, taking longer to digest in your stomach. This keeps you feeling fuller for longer, potentially reducing cravings and helping you eat less throughout the day. It can help regulate hormones involved in appetite control. This can signal feelings of satiety to your brain, curbing your desire to eat excessively.

Squash isn’t the richest vegetable in fiber. Better to eat a variety of vegetables, including broccoli, cabbage, turnip greens, kale, spinach, sweet potatoes, or even French fried to boost your fiber intake and lose weight. Yes, French fries can be a great ally to your weight-loss journey!

Glycemic Index

The glycemic index of squash varies depending on the specific variety, but most winter squashes fall into the low glycemic index category (55 or below). For instance, Butternut squash has a glycemic index of 51 while the glycemic index of pumpkin is only 53.[4]

Compared to starchy vegetables like potatoes or corn, winter squashes generally have a lower overall carbohydrate content (6-11 grams per 100g). This translates to a smaller rise in blood sugar after consumption.

The type of starch in winter squashes also plays a role. They contain a higher proportion of resistant starch compared to readily digestible starches. Resistant starch acts more like fiber in the body, further contributing to a slower rise in blood sugar.

Additionally, winter squashes are a good source of fiber, particularly insoluble fiber. Fiber helps slow down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, preventing a rapid spike in blood sugar levels. This prevents blood sugar spikes and crashes that can lead to increased hunger pangs.

Pectin, a type of soluble fiber found in squash forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract, further delaying sugar absorption.

Besides their low sugar content (less than 3 grams per 100g), polysaccharides and antioxidants in squash play also a key role in improved levels of blood insulin and decreased blood glucose!

All parts (flesh, seeds, peel) of pumpkin and other winter squash seem to have antidiabetic effects.

14 benefits of Squash & Pumpkin Seeds for Weight LossPin

In Mexico and China, herbal extracts containing pumpkin are used to treat hyperglycemia. According to studies, pumpkin fruit powder might improve insulin sensitivity, leading to a lower level of glucose.[5]

Furthermore, pumpkin can lower the activity of a-glycosidase. This enzyme plays a crucial role in breaking down complex carbohydrates, like starches and some sugars, into simpler sugars your body can absorb.

Gut Health

Squash offers several benefits that contribute to overall gut health.

Firstly, they are a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to your stool, promoting regularity and gut health. Soluble fiber can act as a prebiotic, which nourishes the good bacteria in your gut microbiome. These beneficial bacteria play a vital role in digestion, immune function, and overall gut health.

Moreover, according to a study, pumpkin peel supports the growth of gut microbiota, as it contains alcohol-insoluble polysaccharides.[5]

The vibrant orange color of pumpkins comes from beta-carotene, an antioxidant that converts to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A plays a role in maintaining a healthy gut lining, which can help reduce inflammation and promote gut health.

Zinc in pumpkin seeds is also important for immune function and gut health.

The importance of Gut Microbiota in Weight Loss

A healthy gut can support weight loss in several ways. Above all, a healthy gut microbiome ensures efficient nutrient extraction from your diet, potentially leading to feelings of satiety and reducing the urge to overeat.

When gut bacteria ferment dietary fiber, they produce SCFAs that can signal feelings of fullness to your brain, potentially helping you feel satisfied and eat less throughout the day. The gut and brain are constantly communicating.

A healthy gut microbiome can help regulate hormones involved in appetite control, such as leptin (promotes satiety) and ghrelin (stimulates hunger). This hormonal balance can contribute to healthier eating habits and potentially reduce calorie intake.

Furthermore, a balanced gut microbiome may help reduce inflammation, potentially improving insulin sensitivity and overall metabolic health, which can indirectly support weight loss.

Carotenoids

Squash varieties, particularly winter squash, are generally rich in carotenoids.

  • Beta-Carotene: The most prominent carotenoid found in most winter squash varieties. Your body converts beta-carotene to vitamin A, essential for vision, immune function, and cell growth.
  • Alpha-Carotene: Another carotenoid present in some squash varieties, also converted to vitamin A in the body.
  • Lutein and Zeaxanthin: These carotenoids are found in some winter squash varieties, particularly yellow squash like butternut squash. They are beneficial for eye health and may help protect against age-related macular degeneration.

Pumpkin is among the richest carotenoid sources. It contains around 3,100 mcg of beta-carotene and 1,500 mcg of lutein and zeaxanthin per 100g.

The exact amount of carotenoids in squash can vary depending on factors like growing conditions, ripeness, and storage methods.

Carotenoids can indirectly help you maintain a healthy body weight because they help regulate blood sugar levels, preventing cravings that can lead to unhealthy snacking choices.

Also, Some carotenoids, particularly beta-carotene, have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic low-grade inflammation is linked to various health issues, including obesity.

Vitamin C

Some varieties like butternut squash (20% DV) and pumpkin (14% DV) are good sources of vitamin C. Among others, vitamin C supports immune function, fat burn, and collagen production.

Other vegetables, including broccoli, kale, spinach, and cauliflower contain significantly more vitamin C, though. It’s crucial to consume a wide variety to get all the necessary nutrients.

I always add freshly squeezed lemon juice to my recipes to boost vitamin C intake.

Nutritional Value of SquashPin

Vitamin E

Squash contains decent amounts of vitamin E as well. For instance, a typical serving of cooked pumpkin (around 1 cup) provides 1.5 mg of vitamin E which is almost 10% DV. Vitamin E is important for good health, as it’s a powerful antioxidant and plays a role in improving insulin sensitivity.

Antioxidants

Pumpkin seed oil is a significant source of phenolic compounds that have drawn significant scientific interest due to their potential health benefits. They have potent properties in scavenging free radicals and fighting several oxidative degenerative diseases, including obesity.[6]

Also, pumpkin seed oil consumption has huge potential in reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and various cancers, such as breast, rectal, and lung cancer.

Phenolic compounds present in squash include gallic acid, protocatechuic acid, vanillic acid, and caffeic acid. Also, flavonols, such as kaempferol, isoquercetin, and quercetin are found abundant in pumpkins and other winter squashes.

You can buy pumpkin seed oils on iHerb.

Glutathione peroxidase & Superoxide dismutase

Pumpkin fruit extract appears to significantly increase the actions of glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase! They are both antioxidant enzymes that play a crucial role in your body’s defense system. They work together to combat harmful molecules called free radicals, which can damage cells and contribute to various health issues.

Superoxide dismutase neutralizes superoxide radicals, and glutathione peroxidase then helps eliminate the resulting hydrogen peroxide. This cooperative effort is crucial for effective free radical defense.

Maintaining a healthy weight could potentially support optimal glutathione peroxidase function.

Nitric Oxide

Polyphenols in squash, especially flavonoids might modify the endothelial formation of nitric oxide and improve endothelium function.[3]

The endothelium is the inner lining of blood vessels. Endothelial cells play a crucial role in regulating blood pressure, blood flow, and blood clotting. They also produce nitric oxide, a signaling molecule with various functions in the body. It helps relax blood vessels and improves blood flow.

Nitric oxide may play a role in improving insulin sensitivity, which helps your body regulate blood sugar levels. Also, it might control fat metabolism and energy expenditure.

Hydrates the body

Squash is a hydrating food. Most winter squash varieties are around 90% water. A 1-cup serving of cooked, chopped squash contains about 150-200 mL of water.

Moreover, some squash varieties, like acorn squash and pumpkin, are rich in potassium (6-10% DV per serving), which is an essential electrolyte involved in fluid balance.

Water can help you feel fuller for longer, potentially reducing calorie intake throughout the day.

Sometimes thirst can be misinterpreted as hunger, so staying hydrated can help you avoid unnecessary snacking.

Water is crucial for proper digestion and nutrient absorption. Dehydration can slow down digestion and potentially hinder your body’s ability to process nutrients from food effectively.

Dehydration can sometimes lead to water retention, which can cause bloating and make weight loss efforts feel discouraging.

Also, when your body is well-hydrated, you’re more likely to have sustained energy levels and feel motivated to make healthy lifestyle choices that support weight loss.

The important role of Minerals

Squash may contain decent amounts of various minerals. For instance, a cup of raw pumpkin provides some iron (6% DV), magnesium (4% DV), zinc (4% DV), and calcium (3% DV), while it’s particularly rich in copper (20% DV).

MineralBenefits for Weight Loss
IronMay contribute to improved energy levels and reduced fatigue, potentially leading to increased activity levels.
Involved in red blood cell production which transport oxygen throughout the body, essential for energy production during exercise.
MagnesiumPlays a role in blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity. Stable blood sugar can help prevent energy crashes and cravings.
May contribute to improved muscle function and recovery after exercise.
ZincInvolved in hormone regulation, including leptin (promotes satiety) and ghrelin (stimulates hunger). Balanced hormone levels can influence appetite control.
Plays a role in protein synthesis and muscle building, which can slightly increase metabolic rate.
CalciumMay contribute to increased satiety and reduced calorie intake.
Plays a role in fat metabolism and regulation of vitamin D, which might influence weight management.
CopperInvolved in energy production and metabolism.
Plays a role in iron absorption which is crucial for oxygen transport and energy production.
Minerals enhance Weight Loss.

Keeps your Skin elastic

When you lose weight rapidly, your skin loses volume and elasticity along with the fat cells shrinking. This can lead to loose, sagging skin. Rapid weight loss can also contribute to a decrease in collagen production. This is because the body may prioritize using resources for other vital functions during a calorie deficit.

A balanced diet rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals is essential for overall skin health and collagen production. Squash provides iron, zinc, copper, chlorophyll, and carotenoids to the body which are key compounds for collagen synthesis.

Collagen is a protein that acts as the building block for your skin. It provides structure, strength, and elasticity. Think of it as the scaffolding that holds your skin firm and youthful. Collagen fibers intertwine with elastin fibers in the dermis (middle layer) of your skin.

Staying hydrated, protecting your skin from the sun, and getting enough sleep are also crucial for maintaining skin health after weight loss.

B Vitamins

Squach also contains decent amounts of most B vitamins, which are important for maintaining a lean body.

Vitamin% DV
per serving
Benefits for Weight Loss & Metabolism
Thiamine (B1)6%Contributes to converting food into energy.
Deficiency can lead to fatigue, hindering exercise performance.
Riboflavin (B2)12%Plays a role in energy production and
metabolism of carbs, fats, and proteins.
Niacin (B3)5%Involved in converting food into energy and fat metabolism.
Pantothenic Acid (B5)8%Plays a role in carbohydrate, fat, and protein metabolism.
Pyridoxine (B6)5%Involved in protein metabolism and neurotransmitter function,
which can influence appetite regulation.
Folic Acid (B9)6%Involved in DNA synthesis and cell division,
which can influence metabolism and energy production.
B vitamins in Pumpkin.

Immunity

Due to their wide variety of carotenoids and other antioxidants, pumpkin and other winter squashes are considered a pharma food. They have antiviral, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial actions.[7]

A healthy immune system is better equipped to fight off infections and illnesses. Frequent illnesses can zap your energy levels and derail your weight loss goals by making it difficult to maintain an exercise routine or healthy eating habits. Also, a well-functioning immune system can contribute to better nutrient absorption from your diet.

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Quiz: Benefits of Squash & Pumpkin Seeds for Weight Loss!

Unveiling the secrets and true power of Squash for Weight Loss & good Health | Fun Facts & Myths!

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Squash is rich in Carotenoids.

Growing PumpkinPin

Squash is rich in Polyphenols.

Eat Squash & Pumpkin Seeds at Dinner for better SleepPin

Squash is packed with Vitamin C.

Why should Athletes eat Squash every day?Pin

Pumpkin seeds can reduce hunger.

Eat Squash & Pumpkin Seeds at Dinner for better SleepPin

Pumpkin seeds are a complete vegan protein.

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How many Calories are in a serving of Squash?

Eat Squash for Weight LossPin

Pumpkin is a good dietary source of Iron.

History of Squash & Pumpkin Seeds in the Mediterranean DietPin

How much tryptophan, the sleep-enhancing amino acid, does a serving of pumpkin seeds provide?

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What’s the most important nutrient in pumpkin seeds that supports sleep?

History of Squash & Pumpkin Seeds in the Mediterranean DietPin

Cooking destroys most nutrients in squash.

Eat Squash & Pumpkin Seeds at Dinner for better SleepPin

Pumpkin seeds are among the most nutrient-dense foods you can eat every day.

Eat Squash for Weight LossPin

The best time of the day to eat pumpkin seeds is at breakfast.

A list of vegan foods rich in phosphorus.Pin

Eating a handful of pumpkin seeds a day will make you fat.

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Squash has a moderate Glycemic Index.

History of Squash & Pumpkin Seeds in the Mediterranean DietPin

Pumpkin Seeds are among the healthiest foods you can eat

Pumpkin seeds are among the most nutrient-dense foods you can consume every day.

Protein

Firstly, they’re an excellent dietary source of high-quality plant-based protein. They’re almost 30% protein. Pumpkin seeds are a complete vegan protein source. They contain high amounts of all 9 essential amino acids. A handfull provides almost 9 grams of protein.[8]

Protein is known for its satiating effects. Compared to carbs and fats, protein takes longer to digest, keeping you feeling fuller for longer and potentially reducing your overall calorie intake throughout the day.

Amount% DV
Calories1598%
Protein (g)8,6
Manganese (mg)1,2956%
Phosphorus (mg)34950%
Copper (mg)0,3842%
Magnesium (mg)167,840%
Zinc (mg)2,220%
Iron (mg)2,514%
Potassium (mg)229,44,9%
Selenium (mcg)2,74,8%
Vitamin E (mg)0,64,1%
Choline (mg)17,93,2%
Calcium (mg)13,01,3%
Nutritional Value of Pumpkin Seeds.

Manganese

Pumpkin seeds are packed with manganese, providing 56% DV per handful.

Manganese acts as a co-factor for several enzymes crucial in metabolism. These enzymes help your body break down nutrients and convert them into usable energy. When these enzymes function optimally, your body might become more efficient at processing nutrients and potentially using them for energy production instead of storing them as fat.

It might also play a role in regulating blood sugar levels.

Phosphorus

Phosphorus in pumpkin seeds (50% DV) plays a crucial role in their structure and function within the body. Adequate phosphorus intake promotes efficient metabolism and energy production. It’s a key component of ATP, the primary molecule that cells use for energy.

Sufficient phosphorus levels can contribute to optimal cellular energy production, which can translate to more sustained energy levels throughout the day, potentially keeping you active and supporting your weight loss goals.

Magnesium

Pumpkin seeds are also packed with magnesium (40% DV), which is involved in energy production within muscle cells and helps regulate muscle contractions and relaxation. It also plays a role in regulating blood sugar levels. Magnesium deficiency might be linked to insulin resistance, a condition where your body struggles to utilize insulin effectively.

Zinc

Zinc in pumpkin seeds (20% DV) is involved in the regulation of satiety hormones. When zinc levels are deficient, leptin production might decrease, and ghrelin production might increase, potentially leading to increased hunger and overeating.

It also plays a role in protein synthesis and muscle building. Muscle tissue burns more calories at rest compared to fat tissue. While the effect might be small, maintaining adequate zinc levels can contribute to a slightly higher metabolic rate, potentially promoting weight loss.

Iron

Pumpkin seeds are the richest seeds in iron and one of the best dietary sources of iron in general. A serving provides about 13% of the recommended daily intake. Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide! It may lead to serious adverse effects, such as weakened immune function and fatigue.[9]

Seediron (mg)
per 100g
iron (mg)
per serving
% DV
pumpkin seeds8.12.313%
hemp seeds82.313%
chia seeds7.72.212%
sesame seeds6.41.89%
flax seeds5.71.68%
sunflower seeds5.31.57%
Iron content in common seeds.

How much can I eat a day?

Although pumpkin seeds have great nutritional value, we can’t consume too many because they’re high in calories. A handful of pumpkin seeds has approximately 160 calories.

Aim for at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, according to the USDA’s MyPlate. A serving is roughly equivalent to 1 cup of chopped vegetables.

The weight of a cup of chopped squash can vary depending on how finely it is chopped and the specific type of squash. However, as a general guideline, a cup of chopped raw squash typically weighs around 140-150 grams.

As a rough estimate, a cup of boiled or steamed squash typically weighs around 245-250 grams.

It’s always a good idea to weigh or measure ingredients for accuracy, especially in recipes where precise measurements are important.

Consuming higher amounts won’t make you fat. But it’s preferred to consume a wide variety of vegetables instead of only 2-3 favorite greens. Combining carotenoids, polyphenols, and other antioxidant compounds from different foods has a great effect on health, as they work synergistically.

You can enjoy a small handful (around 30 grams) of pumpkin seeds every day. That’s the equivalent of 1/4 cup of hulled or 1/3 cup of unhulled pumpkin seeds and it has about 160 calories.

Can eating Squash make me Gain Weight?

Squash, on its own, is unlikely to directly cause weight gain, as a typical serving of cooked squash (around 1 cup) contains only about 50-80 calories.

Deep-frying or adding excessive amounts of butter, oil, or sugary sauces can significantly increase the calorie content and contribute to weight gain. Prefer healthy cooking methods for squash like roasting, baking, or steaming.

Certainly, if you incorporate squash into a diet high in processed foods, sugary drinks, and unhealthy fats, you’re more likely to experience weight gain, regardless of the squash itself.

Can I eat Pumpkin Pie while Dieting?

You can technically have pumpkin pie while dieting, but it depends on your overall calorie goals and how strictly you’re following your diet. I avoid consuming it when following an energy-restricted diet.

A slice has around 320 calories. Traditional pumpkin pie recipes often contain a significant amount of added sugar in the crust and filling. This can significantly increase the calorie content. Depending on the recipe, the crust and toppings (whipped cream, ice cream) can add a lot of fat to the pie, further increasing the calorie count.

What’s the best time of the day to eat Squash for Weight Loss?

The timing of consuming pumpkin or other squash likely has minimal impact on weight loss by itself. The total number of calories you consume throughout the day is more important. However, meal timing could have beneficial effects in some cases.

At Breakfast

We should consume foods rich in antioxidants in the morning. Increasing the antioxidant capacity of the body first thing in the morning helps the body fight oxidative stress, due to air pollution or sunlight radiation. Carotenoids, and vitamins C and E in squash protect your eyes and skin throughout the day.[10,11,12,13]

Moreover, by keeping you feeling satisfied, squash can help you avoid unhealthy cravings for sugary or processed foods in the mid-morning.

Morning Snack Ideas

Savory Roasted Butternut Squash Scramble: Cube butternut squash and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and your favorite herbs (rosemary, thyme). Roast for 15-20 minutes at 400°F (200°C). Meanwhile, scramble eggs with a splash of milk. Combine roasted squash with scrambled eggs and top with chopped fresh parsley or cilantro.

Spicy Pumpkin Oatmeal: My favorite! In a saucepan, combine rolled oats, water or milk, a pinch of salt, and a sprinkle of pumpkin spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves). Cook according to package instructions. Stir in mashed pumpkin puree, a drizzle of maple syrup, and a pinch of cayenne pepper for a warm and spicy breakfast.

Winter Squash Breakfast Hash: Saute chopped onion, bell pepper, and your favorite winter squash (butternut, acorn, etc.) in a pan with olive oil. Add crumbled cooked sausage or chopped tofu for protein. Season with salt, pepper, and a touch of smoked paprika. Top with a fried egg for a complete and satisfying meal.

Eat Pumpkin while dietingPin

Microwave Pumpkin Souffle: Blend together pumpkin puree, eggs, a splash of milk, cinnamon, and a pinch of nutmeg. Pour into microwave-safe mugs and cook on high for 2-3 minutes, or until puffed and set. Top with a dollop of Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of chopped nuts.

Winter Squash Pancakes: Grate raw butternut squash and mix with eggs, a splash of milk, whole wheat flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and a pinch of nutmeg. Cook on a greased pan like regular pancakes. Top with fresh fruit and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Pumpkin Smoothie Bowl: Blend together pumpkin puree, Greek yogurt, a splash of milk, and a touch of honey. Pour into a bowl and top with your favorite toppings like granola, chia seeds, sliced banana, and a sprinkle of cinnamon.

Pumpkin spice is a blend of warming spices commonly used in fall baking and flavored beverages. It does not actually contain pumpkin itself, despite the name. The typical pumpkin spice blend includes cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Some variations might also include allspice, cardamom, or even a touch of black pepper.

You’ll find a wide variety on Amazon.

At Lunch

Squash can be a fantastic low-calorie lunch option. Combine with a slice of whole-wheat bread to get extra fiber and essential minerals.

Roasted Squash Salad: Roast your favorite winter squash (butternut, acorn, etc.) with olive oil, salt, pepper, and herbs. Toss with leafy greens, chopped vegetables, lean protein like grilled chicken or chickpeas, and a light vinaigrette dressing.

Stuffed Squash Boats: Bake halved squash until tender. Fill with a mixture of quinoa, black beans, corn, chopped vegetables, and a touch of salsa. Top with cheese (optional) and bake until heated through.

Squash Soup with a Side: Purée roasted squash with vegetable broth for a creamy and satisfying soup. Pair it with a whole-wheat bread roll or a side salad for a well-rounded meal.

Spiralized Squash Noodles: Use a spiralizer to create zucchini or butternut squash noodles. Toss them with your favorite pasta sauce, pesto, or a light drizzle of olive oil and herbs for a healthy and satisfying alternative to traditional pasta.

After Exercise

Squash is a great post-workout snack. Among others, it hydrates the body, and replenishes lost electrolytes and glycogen stores, accelerating muscle recovery, while antioxidants protect from muscle soreness.

At Dinner

Another great time to consume squash is at dinner as it supports a good night’s sleep. It can be the main ingredient of a light dinner, which is packed with compounds such as tryptophan and magnesium that relax the muscles, reducing sleep onset.

Can I eat Squash every day?

Yes, you can definitely eat squash every day while dieting. Explore different winter squash varieties like butternut, acorn, or spaghetti squash to keep your meals interesting.

Overall, squash can be a fantastic staple in your weight loss diet. By practicing portion control, choosing healthy preparation methods, and incorporating variety, you can enjoy its benefits daily.

After How Long will see a difference?

People with more weight to lose might see changes on the scale sooner compared to those with less weight to lose.

Aiming for aggressive weight loss goals (more than 2 pounds per week) might lead to faster initial weight loss, but it’s generally less sustainable and healthy. It might cause saggy skin or stretch marks. That’s why I aim to lose around only one pound per week.

Eating winter or summer squash won’t make a difference if you don’t mind of your overall calorie intake. But, it can play a key role in your weight loss journey, due to its low-calorie content, filling effect, and other countless health benefits.

Does cooking destroy nutrients?

Cooking can affect the nutrients in squash. But the overall nutrient loss in squash due to cooking is generally minimal, especially with proper cooking methods.

Vitamins B and C in squash can be partially lost during cooking, especially in boiling water. as they’re water-soluble vitamins.

To minimize this loss, use cooking methods like steaming, roasting, or microwaving, which limit contact with water.

On the other hand, cooking can actually improve the bioavailability of some nutrients in squash. For example, heat helps break down cell walls, making beta-carotene (precursor to vitamin A) in squash more readily absorbed by the body.

Tip

You can reserve the cooking water and use it in soups or stews to retain some of the leached vitamins.

How to store Squash?

Winter Squash

Both fresh and frozen squash are good options. Frozen squash is frozen at peak freshness, and nutrient losses are minimal during the freezing process.

Choose firm, heavy winter squash with unblemished skin. Avoid soft spots or signs of mold. Contrary to popular belief, there’s no need to wash winter squash before storing it. The natural waxy coating on the skin helps protect it from moisture loss and spoilage.

Store winter squash in a cool, dark, well-ventilated area. Ideal locations include a basement, pantry, or a cool corner of your kitchen cupboard. Avoid storing them near ripening fruits or ethylene gas-emitting vegetables like apples or potatoes, as this can accelerate spoilage. Aim for a storage temperature between 50-55°F (10-13°C). Temperatures below 50°F (10°C) can damage the squash.

Properly stored winter squash like butternut squash, acorn squash, or kabocha can last for several months, up to 2-6 months depending on the variety.

Once cut, winter squash can be stored in the refrigerator for 3-5 days in an airtight container.

Summer Squash

Choose summer squash that feels firm and heavy for its size.

Unlike winter squash, summer squash (zucchini, yellow squash, crookneck squash) benefits from refrigeration. Store them in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator. You can place them in a perforated plastic bag to help maintain moisture but don’t seal the bag completely. Trapped moisture can promote spoilage.

Summer squash generally lasts for 3-5 days in the refrigerator.

Both winter and summer squash can be frozen for longer storage. However, freezing is best suited for cooked squash in soups, stews, or stir-fries. Freezing raw summer squash can result in a mushy texture.

Can I eat Pumpkin Bread while Dieting?

You can use pumpkin flour to make bread. Not only does it increase the gluten network in the dough, helping the bread rise, but it also improves its nutritional qualities.[6]

Pumpkin bread can potentially fit into a diet in moderation, especially if you make a healthier version using whole wheat flour, less sugar, and natural sweeteners. Enjoying a small slice occasionally might help you stay satisfied with your diet and avoid feeling deprived, especially during fall when pumpkin flavors are prominent.

As pumpkin bread or cake can have significantly more carotenoids and fiber than common wheat products, they may help lower LDL cholesterol levels.[5]

Keep in mind that traditional pumpkin bread recipes are often loaded with sugar and unhealthy fats, making them calorie-dense. This can easily disrupt your calorie deficit for weight loss.

Pumpkin Bread Recipe

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup honey or maple syrup (or applesauce for a refined sugar-free option)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • ¼ cup unsweetened almond milk or milk of choice (or water)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin spice blend (or ½ teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon ground ginger, ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg, and ¼ teaspoon allspice or cloves)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (not baking powder)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¾ cups white whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon, for sprinkling (optional)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C) and grease an 8×4 inch loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the melted coconut oil (or olive oil) and honey (or maple syrup or applesauce). Add the eggs and whisk until well combined. Honey is the healthiest sweetener for weight loss!
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, almond milk (or milk/water), pumpkin spice blend, baking soda, vanilla extract, and salt.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Be careful not to overmix. A few lumps are okay!
  5. If using, gently fold in the chopped nuts.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and sprinkle with a pinch of ground cinnamon (optional).
  7. Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  8. Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes before transferring it to a wire rack to cool completely.

For a more moist bread, use all-purpose flour instead of whole wheat flour.

This bread can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Can I eat Squash?

Diabetes

Yes, people with diabetes can absolutely eat squash! In fact, it’s a recommended vegetable choice due to its low glycemic index. Moreover, its rich fiber, nutrient, and antioxidant content make it an ideal food for people with diabetes, as it seems to reduce blood glucose. It’s a functional food that could prevent complications of diabetes.[14]

Keto

Yes, people on a keto diet can eat some types of squash in moderation. Some winter squash varieties are lower in net carbs and can fit into a keto diet. The amount of squash you can eat on keto depends on your individual daily carb limit. Generally, a serving of cooked squash (around 1 cup) is roughly 5-10 grams of net carbs.

Pumpkin seeds are excellent food choices as well.

Mediterranean Diet

Yes, absolutely! People who follow the Mediterranean diet can definitely eat squash. In fact, squash is a recommended food on the Mediterranean diet because it aligns perfectly with the core principles. The Mediterranean Diet emphasizes vegetables and fruits as a cornerstone of healthy eating.

Use herbs, spices, and a drizzle of olive oil to add flavor to your squash dishes.

Several researches have demonstrated that the Mediterranean diet substantially reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease! Olive oil along with vegetables, fruits, beans, and whole grains are believed to play a key role in protecting the heart.

But, according to recent studies, pumpkin seed oil appears to also affect the serum lipid profile, but to a lower effect as compared to extra virgin olive oil.[5]

I always sprinkle some extra virgin to my dishes. It adds flavor and skyrockets the polyphenol content of the meal.

You can buy organic, extra virgin olive oil from Italy, Greece, or Spain on iHerb.

How should Avoid consuming Squash?

Allergies: While uncommon, some people might have allergies to squash or other members of the Cucurbitaceae family (melons, cucumbers, zucchini). If you experience allergic reactions like hives, swelling, or trouble breathing after consuming squash, consult a healthcare professional.

Kidney Stones: If you have a history of kidney stones, particularly oxalate kidney stones, consult your doctor about squash consumption. Some winter squash varieties, like butternut squash, contain moderate amounts of oxalates, which can contribute to stone formation.

Medication Interactions: Certain medications might interact with squash, particularly blood thinners. If you take any medications, consult your doctor before making significant changes to your diet, including increased squash intake.

Toxic Squash Syndrome: This is a rare condition caused by consuming squash high in cucurbitacin, a bitter compound. These squash are usually not commercially available, but if you’re growing your own squash, be aware of the signs: very bitter taste, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. If you experience these symptoms after eating squash, discard it and seek medical attention.

Actually, growing squash is super easy to grow, even for new gardeners without experience. It’s a key food to add to a survival garden!

Tips for safe squash consumption

  • When buying squash, choose it from reputable sources like grocery stores or farmers markets.
  • If you’re unsure about the squash variety or its origin, it’s best to peel it before consuming it, as the highest cucurbitacin concentration is often found in the rind.
  • Inspect it for any signs of spoilage, mold, or soft spots. Discard any squash that appears damaged.
  • If you’re new to eating squash, introduce it gradually into your diet to see how your body tolerates it.

Buying & Storings Tips

Where can I buy Squash?

Most major grocery stores will carry a variety of winter and summer squash throughout the year. Farmers markets are also a great place to find fresh, seasonal squash directly from local farmers. They may offer a wider variety of heirloom or unique squash varieties not typically found in grocery stores.

If you participate in a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program, you might receive seasonal squash varieties in your weekly or bi-weekly deliveries.

How to choose the best one?

The squash should feel firm and heavy for its size. The skin should be smooth and unblemished, with no signs of soft spots, mold, or wrinkles, while the color should be consistent and vibrant for the variety.

Winter squash varieties are typically available in the fall and winter months, while summer squash is more prevalent during the spring and summer.

How to cut down the cost?

Winter squash is generally more affordable in the fall and winter months, while summer squash is cheaper in the spring and summer. Buying in season allows you to take advantage of natural price fluctuations. Local farmers markets often offer competitive prices on fresh, seasonal produce like squash.

Plan your meals and make a grocery list before heading out. This helps you avoid impulse purchases and stick to your budget.

Check prices at different grocery stores or farmers markets before buying. Some stores might offer weekly deals or discounts on squash. Many grocery stores offer sections with “ugly” or imperfect produce that is perfectly safe to eat but might be discounted due to cosmetic blemishes. Look for these sections for potential savings on squash.

If you use a lot of squash and have the storage space, consider buying it in bulk from wholesale stores or directly from local farms. This can be cost-effective, but make sure you can use it all before it spoils.

Leftover roasted squash can be incorporated into salads, soups, stews, or even breakfast scrambles. This minimizes waste and stretches the value of your purchase. Don’t discard the seeds! Winter squash seeds can be roasted for a delicious and nutritious snack.

Organic or regular?

The Environmental Working Group (EWG) keeps a Dirty Dozen list of produce items with the highest pesticide residue concerns. Squash (including zucchini and yellow squash) does not fall under the Dirty Dozen. However, some pesticides can still be used on conventionally grown squash.

Organic produce often comes with a higher price tag. If budget is a major concern, regular squash can still be a healthy and affordable option.

Regardless of your choice, it’s always a good practice to wash all produce thoroughly before consuming it. This can help remove some surface dirt and potential pesticide residue. I wash vegetables, fruits, and beans with this cheap, homemade solution.

Is Squash the healthiest vegetable?

No, actually. There isn’t a single “healthiest vegetable”. While squash boasts a good amount of vitamin A, C, and fiber, other vegetables might be richer in specific nutrients. For example, leafy greens like kale are excellent sources of vitamin K, chlorophyll, and folate, while broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable known for its potential cancer-fighting properties.

A well-balanced diet should include a variety of vegetables from different color groups, as each offers a unique blend of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

7+1 Myths about Squash & Weight Loss

Myth 1: Squash is too high in carbs for weight loss. Fact: While squash contains carbs, most varieties are low in calories. This means you can enjoy a satisfying portion without exceeding your daily calorie needs.

Myth 2: Eating squash won’t help you feel full. Fact: Squash is a good source of fiber, which helps you feel fuller for longer and may reduce overall calorie intake throughout the day.

Myth 3: Winter squash and summer squash have the same benefits for weight loss. Fact: Winter squash varieties are generally lower in water content and higher in fiber compared to summer squash. This can make winter squash slightly more satiating.

Myth 4: Pumpkin is just for pies. Fact: Plain pumpkin puree is low in calories and fat. It can be used in various healthy dishes and baked goods as a substitute for higher-calorie ingredients.

Myth 5: Canned pumpkin is less nutritious than fresh pumpkin. Fact: Canned pumpkin puree is typically packed at peak freshness and retains most of its nutrients. Opt for varieties without added sugars or fillers for a healthy choice.

Myth 6: Pumpkin spice lattes help with weight loss. Fact: These drinks are often loaded with sugar and unhealthy fats. While they might have a pumpkin flavor, they’re not a weight-loss aid.

Myth 7: Pumpkin seeds are high in calories and should be avoided on a diet. Fact: While pumpkin seeds are a good source of healthy fats, they are also calorie-dense. However, portion control is key. A handful of pumpkin seeds can be a satisfying and nutritious snack.

Myth 8: Roasting pumpkin seeds makes them unhealthy. Fact: Roasting is a healthy way to prepare pumpkin seeds. However, be mindful of added oils, salt, or sugary coatings that can increase calorie content.

16+1 Fun Facts

Squash Ancestors: Squash originated in Central America over 10,000 years ago, predating corn and beans!

Winter vs. Summer: There are two main types of squash: winter squash (harvested in fall, hard rinds) and summer squash (harvested in summer, soft edible skins).

Shape Shifters: Squash come in a stunning variety of shapes and sizes, from the long, slender neck of a butternut squash to the lumpy exterior of a turban squash.

Gourd Family: Squash and pumpkins are technically gourds, but not all are edible.

Squash Flowers are Edible: The large yellow flowers of squash plants are delicious battered and fried or stuffed with cheese.

Giant Pumpkins are a Sport: Competitive pumpkin growers vie for the title of the heaviest pumpkin each year.

Orange Isn’t the Only Color: Squash and pumpkins come in a vibrant range of colors, including green, yellow, white, blue, and even speckled varieties.

Musical Instruments: Dried gourds have been used throughout history to make rattles, maracas, and even string instruments. 

Prehistoric Tools: Archaeological evidence suggests Native Americans used squash rinds as bowls and containers.

Jack-o’-Lantern Origins: The tradition of carving jack-o’-lanterns likely originated in Ireland from a folktale about a mischievous character named Stingy Jack.[15]

Not Just for Decorations: Pumpkins are not just for Halloween! Pumpkin flesh is used in various cuisines worldwide for soups, curries, and even desserts.

Natural Dyes: The vibrant colors of some squash varieties can be used as natural dyes for fabrics.

Animal Enrichment: Zoos sometimes use whole pumpkins as enrichment toys for elephants and other large animals who enjoy rolling and smashing them.

Squash Blossoms as Art: The delicate beauty of squash blossoms has inspired artists for centuries, appearing in paintings and pottery designs.

Winter Squash Can Last for Months: Properly stored winter squash varieties like butternut squash or kabocha can last for 2-6 months in a cool, dark place.

Squash is a Global Favorite: Squash is a popular food in many cultures around the world, with regional variations in recipes and preparations.

From Squash to Medicine? Research is ongoing to explore the potential health benefits of squash compounds in areas like diabetes management and immune function.

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