Known for its iconic autumn shape and vibrant green speckled-with-yellow color, acorn squash provides an array of nutrients that support optimal health. These include calcium, potassium and magnesium, each one vital to many physiological processes including the formation and regeneration of bone matter and prevention of osteoporosis. They also play a role in energy metabolism, water balance in the body, and muscle contraction. Other minerals found in smaller amounts in acorn squash include manganese, copper, iron, and zinc.
It’s easy to include acorn squash in your meal plans. Available in the winter months (hence the name, Winter Squash), it can be baked, sautéed, steamed, stuffed, pureed for soups, or incorporated into a variety of meat and vegetable dishes. Acorn squash is a good source of Vitamin C, which supports immunity and works as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from oxidative stress that can lead to inflammation and health problems such as cancer or heart disease. To maximize the amount of vitamin C you receive from acorn squash, use the vegetable within four days after purchase and cut it right before cooking. Steam or bake the squash instead of boiling it to keep vitamin C from being degraded in hot water.
Acorn squash is also high in both fiber and complex carbohydrates. While there aren’t any simple sugars in acorn squash, if you follow a low-carb diet you’ll want to enjoy smaller portions of this vegetable.
- WorldsHealthiestFoods.com, “Winter Squash.” Accessed 16 September 2017: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=63
- Shibata, A. et al. “Intake of Vegetables, Fruits, Beta-Carotene, Vitamin C and Vitamin Supplements and Cancer Incidence among the Elderly: A Prospective Study.” British Journal of Cancer 66.4 (1992): 673–679. Accessed 16 September 2017: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2364321/
- Food.com. “Kitchen Dictionary: Acorn Squash.” Accessed 15 September 2017: http://www.food.com/library/acorn-squash-130
- USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference: Nutrient Data for 11483, Squash, Winter, Acorn, Cooked, Baked, Without Salt. Accessed 16 September 2017: http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3252
- HarvestoftheMonth.com, “Harvest of the Month: Winter Squash.” Accessed 16 September 2017: http://harvestofthemonth.cdph.ca.gov/Documents/Fall/Winter%20Squash/WinterSquash_Fam.pdf#search=acorn%20squash