Is Spaghetti Squash Healthy?
Sure, the fact that a gourd promises to take the place of starchy noodles sounds intriguing. Before you buy one, you might be wondering, "Is spaghetti squash healthy?"
So, is spaghetti squash healthy? The answer depends on who you’re asking!
If you lived a century or so ago, before we all had the luxury of refrigeration in our kitchen, this winter squash would have been a vital source of much-needed nutrients and a regular on your table. The reason? Like pumpkin, this hardy vegetable has extra thick skin, which means that spaghetti squash can stay fresh for two to three months without refrigeration.
Today, the long shelf life might still be good news—particularly for anyone who has the guilt-inducing habit of discovering expensive produce has wilted or gone bad in the refrigerator. If you buy one of these bright yellow gourds, there’s no pressure to cook spaghetti squash right away.
Is Spaghetti Squash Good for You?
Yes. One of the biggest benefits spaghetti squash has over other vegetables is its unusual noodle-like insides, which makes it a low calorie substitution for a variety of dishes.
Depending on your health goals, this squash could be more beneficial to some, such as people with diabetes, than others. For example, like all non-starchy vegetables, spaghetti squash is low in carbohydrates, making it a particularly good choice for people concerned about their blood sugar levels (more details below).
Spaghetti squash also contains some essential vitamins, minerals, fiber and disease-fighting antioxidants. However, as far as winter squash goes, this particular one contains only a small fraction of these nutrients compared to its more brightly colored cousins, such as butternut squash.
For example, compared to butternut squash, one cup of spaghetti squash has just 1/100 the amount of beta-carotene, a plant compound the body converts to vitamin A and uses to protect our eye health and immune system. And it contains just 1/3 the amount of fiber, folate and potassium. If you’re hoping to get a boost of a variety of nutrients, choosing a winter squash with a richer color is a better bet for reaching your goal. Looking for more? Here’s our collection of the best low-carb spaghetti squash recipes.
Spaghetti Squash Nutrition
The USDA says that one cup of cooked (boiled or baked) spaghetti squash contains the following nutrients:
- Calories: 42
- Fat: < 1 gram
- 0 grams saturated fat
- 0 grams trans fat
- Protein: 1 gram
- Total carbohydrates: 10 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Sugar: 4 grams
- Beta carotene: 94 ug
- Calcium 33 mg
- Folate: 12 µg
- Magnesium: 17 mg
- Sodium: 28 mg
- Potassium: 181 mg
- Vitamin A: 170 IU
Is Spaghetti Squash Keto?
Yes. Since one cup of spaghetti squash contains 8 net carbohydrates (that is, 10 grams of total carbs minus 2 grams of fiber), it can be considered a low-carb or keto food.
Health Benefits of Spaghetti Squash
Keep Blood Sugar Balanced
If you’re trying to keep your blood sugar on even keel, swap out traditional grain-based pasta for this low carbohydrate version. Cup for cup, this non-starchy vegetable has 37 grams fewer carbohydrates than regular spaghetti, meaning it’ll be a lot more gentle when it comes to the after-eating rise in glucose that typically happens after dinner.
Enjoy this unique low-carb pasta with a traditional tomato-based meat sauce, and you’ll still get to enjoy all the flavor of an Italian favorite while staying in the low carbohydrate recipe range. Try our recipe for Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce.
Reduce Sodium Intake
Ordering takeout is such a treat, but restaurant food can be notoriously high in sodium. If you want to enjoy a delicious Chinese dish without worrying about your heart, make this Spaghetti Squash Lo Mein. Using spaghetti squash instead of traditional noodles will slash the hypertension-causing sodium by an impressive 66%!
Another bonus to those concerned about cardiovascular disease (and who isn’t?) is the fact that the squash strands in this dish contain zero of the saturated fats often linked in research to high cholesterol.
Help Tame Heart-Harming Inflammation
While spaghetti squash might not boast an array of vitamins, one nutrient it does stand out for is panothenic acid, also known as vitamin B5. One cup of spaghetti squash contains 11% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) for anyone over 19 years old.
While multiple studies have linked supplement forms of this vitamin to potential heart-health protection, as least one study found that people with the highest intakes of panothenic acid in their diets had the least amount of an inflammation-causing protein. Quelling inflammation is a cornerstone of protection against heart attacks, giving you at least one more reason to add spaghetti squash recipes to your dinner rotation.