Top 5 health benefits of butternut squash
Rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals, this bright orange vegetable is health-giving. Registered nutritionist Nicola Shubrook tells us more.
What is butternut squash?
Technically a fruit, butternut squash is a type of winter squash that grows on a vine. It is long and oval in shape with a bell-bottom, hard, yellow-orange outer skin covering the inner orange flesh and seeds.
Health benefits of butternut squash may include:
1. Contains beta-carotene which supports eye health
2. May support the immune system
3. Contributes to healthy bones
4. High in fibre so may improve digestion
5. Low in calories
Nutritional benefits of butternut squash
An 80g (baked) serving contains:
- 0.7g protein
- 0.1g fat
- 5.9g carbohydrate
- 1.5g fibre
- 224mg potassium
- 12mg vitamin C
What are the 5 top health benefits of butternut squash?
1. May support eye health
Research has shown that phytonutrients, such as zeaxanthin and lutein, may help to protect eye health, and butternut squash contains both of these carotenoids. Beta-carotene, which we convert to vitamin A, also plays a role in eye health and healthy cell renewal, and diets that are high in brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, including butternut squash, are rich sources.
2. May support the immune system
3. May support bone health
There is some evidence to suggest that a varied diet rich in fruits and vegetables may reduce the risk of osteoporosis. A 2016 study found that diets high in vegetables, as well as those containing beta-carotene, vitamin C, zinc and sodium, were positively associated with healthy bone mass in postmenopausal women. All of these nutrients are found in butternut squash, making it a bone-loving vegetable.
4. May support digestion
Just 100g of butternut squash (baked) contains around 2g of fibre, which is 7% of the recommended intake of fibre for adults. There is strong evidence that fibre is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, bowel cancer and type 2 diabetes, but it can also help digestion and prevent constipation.
5. May support weight management
Butternut squash is low in calories, high in fibre and has a comforting sweet flavour which may help manage appetite.
Is butternut squash safe for everyone?
Butternut squash is nutrient dense and a healthy food for the majority of us. However, those medicated with beta blockers or ACE inhibitors may be advised to minimise their intake of potassium-rich foods, including butternut squash.
An allergy to butternut squash is rare, but there have been some reports that contact dermatitis may occur.
Overall, is butternut squash good for you?
There are plenty of reasons to eat more butternut squash. It's high in fibre which means it may contribute to a healthy gut by improving digestion and reducing constipation. It's also low in calories and packed with beta-carotene – our bodies convert this to vitamin A to support the immune system, healthy eyes and strong bones.
If you are concerned or have queries please consult your GP or registered dietician for guidance.
Butternut squash recipes
This article was reviewed on 23 February 2021 by Kerry Torrens.
Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Nutrition and Lifestyle Medicine (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.
All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.