Yellow squash, also called yellow zucchini or summer squash, is a hot weather vegetable picked in its immature stage to ensure a thin, edible skin and sweet, soft flesh. This squash typically ranges in size from 6 to 8 inches long, although it can be smaller, depending on when you pick the fruit. You can eat yellow squash raw, as well as stir-fried, baked, grilled or sauteed, and you can substitute it for any green summer squash since the taste is similar.
Calories and Fat
One cup of raw, sliced yellow squash contains 18 calories. This low-calorie vegetable is an ideal side dish if you wish to lose weight. Yellow squash essentially has no fat -- a 1-cup portion provides only 0.2 g. Keeping your calories low but building a balanced meal does not have to be mutually exclusive. You can serve a portion of yellow squash with a lean meat or fish and a healthy grain, such as wild rice, quinoa or couscous. Limit fat consumption to 44 to 78 g per day to avoid gaining excess weight. Too much fat in your diet may also raise your risk of suffering from a heart attack or stroke. Additionally, eating a low-fat diet may serve as a low-cost preventive measure to ward off breast cancer, according to researchers at Tusculum College in Tennessee.
Carbohydrates and Fiber
A 1-cup serving of raw yellow squash provides you with 3.8 g of carbohydrates, or 2.9 percent of the 130 g suggested daily. Carbs serve as the main supply of energy for your body. Yellow squash also helps you consume the fiber you need each day; 1 cup contains 1.2 g. Fiber can play a critical role in helping you lose weight. High-fiber foods satisfy hunger better than low-fiber foods by providing more bulk in your diet. Fiber also helps regulate bowel movements and decreases your chances of developing diverticulitus, a condition that affects your colon. Include 25 to 38 g of fiber in your diet every day.
Yellow squash serves as a good source of vitamin C -- each 1-cup portion contains 21.3 to 25.6 percent of the amount your body requires daily. Ascorbic acid, another name for vitamin C, is an antioxidant that blocks cellular damage from free radicals, helping to slow aging and possibly decreasing your risk of heart disease, arthritis and cancer. A 1-cup serving of yellow squash also supplies you with 8.2 percent of the daily recommended value of folate, also called folic acid, which is a B-vitamin. Not getting enough folate in your diet can result in a form of anemia. However, this vitamin is best known for its role in preventing birth defects. If you plan to conceive a child, boost your folate levels -- it may decrease your risk of having a child with spinal birth defects.
Including yellow squash in your meal plan gives a boost in beta carotene. A 1-cup serving contains 136 mcg of this mineral, or 15.1 to 19.4 percent of the amount your body needs each day. Beta carotenes are pigments primarily found in richly colored fruits and vegetables like squash; they can also be found in grains. Physicians may utilize beta carotenes to help ward off certain cancers, as well as heart disease and vision degeneration associated with aging.
One portion of yellow squash also provides 8.6 to 11.1 percent of the daily recommended value of manganese, an essential trace mineral required to manufacture sex hormones, bones and connective tissues. Your body wouldn’t have the capability to clot blood without manganese. Additionally, the mineral maintains the normal function of your brain and nerves.
- University of Illinois Extension: Summer Squash
- U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database: Squash, summer, all varieties, raw
- Food Consumer: Low fat diet cost-effective in preventing breast cancer, ovarian cancer
- McKinley Health Center: Macronutrients: the Importance of Carbohydrate, Protein, and Fat
- ChooseMyPlate.gov: Why Is it Important to Eat Grains, Especially Whole Grains?