Spaghetti squash gets its name from the fact that when it is cooked, the inside flesh pulls out of the shell in long strands, resembling spaghetti pasta. Oval shaped and yellow, spaghetti squash can be considered a summer or winter squash and is available year-round in most grocery stores. Adding it to your menu will bring a tasty treat to your mouth and several health benefits to your body.
Spaghetti squash contains a wide range of vitamins. A 1-cup serving offers 5.4 mg of vitamin C, which is almost 10 percent of the recommended daily intake, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. Other vitamins include A, B-6, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid and vitamin K. A report from Colorado State University explains that obtaining your daily vitamins through food sources such as spaghetti squash may be more beneficial than taking vitamin supplements, as food contains several chemicals that work together, making the vitamins function more efficiently. Researchers from China, published in the January 2011 issue of "Journal of Environmental Science and Health," report that the flavonoids found in plant foods work with vitamins and play a role in protecting the body from cancer.
A 1-cup serving of spaghetti squash also contains several minerals that are vital to good health. The dominant mineral is manganese, with 0.2 mg, which is 8 percent of the RDI. Manganese is needed only in small amounts, but it has a big job. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports manganese aids in the production of healthy bones, tissues and sex hormones. It also plays a part in metabolism, regulation of blood sugar, absorption of calcium and the functioning of the nervous system. Other minerals found in smaller amounts in spaghetti squash include potassium, magnesium, calcium, copper, iron, phosphorus, sodium, zinc and selenium.
The American Heart Association says consuming fiber on a regular basis improves health by reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and lowering cholesterol. Spaghetti squash contains a fair amount of fiber, with 2.2 g, or 9 percent of the RDI, per 1-cup serving. Fiber may also help in weight reduction as it makes you feel fuller longer.
Calories and Carbs
With only 42 calories and 10 carbs in a 1-cup serving of cooked spaghetti squash, this vegetable is a safe addition to any diet. A serving contains no fat unless you add butter or olive oil. Spaghetti squash is a great alternative to high-calorie, high-carb traditional pasta. To cook spaghetti squash, the University of Illinois Extension recommends washing it off and then piercing the outer flesh several times with a fork. Place the entire squash in baking pan in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour. When it's done, cut the squash in half lengthwise, discard the seeds and pull out the stringy flesh with a fork.