Delicata squash is a type of winter squash that's well known for its striped exterior and bright orange interior. Delicata squash's nutrition features various vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamins A and C. This type of squash is mostly made of carbohydrates, with no fat and small amounts of protein.
Read more: 12 Fall and Winter Superfoods
Delicata and Other Winter Squash
The winter squash delicata goes by a variety of other names. You might also know this squash as sweet potato squash, peanut squash, bohemian squash or sweet dumpling squash. The latter is just a rounder version of the standard delicata, which is more cylindrical.
Delicata squash are known for having cream or pale orange exteriors with green or dark orange stripes. They are easily differentiated from other winter squash, like butternut squash, acorn squash, spaghetti squash or Hubbard squash, which are just one color. The exterior of these types of squash is also much more delicate than other types of squash, giving delicata its name.
Many types of squash are known for being low in carbohydrates and high in fiber. This means that several different types of squash are often consumed by people on reduced carbohydrate and ketogenic diets. However, with 18.1 carbs in delicata squash per cup (205 grams), this type of squash isn't the most keto friendly.
Delicata Squash Nutrition Facts
According to the USDA, one cup (205 grams) of winter squash like delicata has 76 calories, 0.7 grams of fat, 1.8 grams of protein and 18.1 grams of carbohydrates. About a third (5.7 grams) of these carbohydrates come from fiber. (Note that the USDA lists many winter squash varieties, but not delicata specifically. Therefore, these figures are based on the average winter squash nutritional facts available.)
Each cup of squash also contains:
- 5 percent of the daily value (DV) for iron
- 11 percent of the DV for potassium
- 6 percent of the DV for magnesium
- 19 percent of the DV for copper
- 17 percent of the DV for manganese
- 59 percent of the DV for vitamin A
- 22 percent of the DV for vitamin C
- 11 percent of the DV for thiamin (vitamin B1)
- 6 percent of the DV for niacin (vitamin B3)
- 10 percent of the DV for vitamin B5
- 19 percent of the DV for vitamin B6
- 10 percent of the DV for folate (vitamin B9)
- 8 percent of the DV for vitamin K
- 2,900 micrograms of lutein and zeaxanthin
- 189 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids (12 percent of the DV)
Each cup of delicata squash also has small amounts (between 1 and 4 percent) of other nutrients, like omega-6 fatty acids, other B-complex vitamins, choline, vitamin E, selenium, zinc, phosphorus and calcium. Winter squash like delicata squash are also known for being rich in antioxidants.
Comparing Types of Winter Squash
Delicata squash's calories and nutrition fall somewhere in the middle of the winter squash family. It's less slightly less nutrient-rich than some of the more popularly consumed types of winter squash, like butternut squash. Delicata squash's nutrition is probably most comparable to acorn squash, although delicata has substantially larger amounts of vitamin A. There are roughly the same amount of carbs in delicata squash and most other types of winter squash, with the exception of spaghetti squash.
Compared to the nutrition of spaghetti squash per cup, one cup of delicata squash has many more calories and carbohydrates. However, you should be aware that a cup of spaghetti squash is less than that of delicata squash; a cup is equivalent to 155 grams and 205 grams of each, respectively.
Even if you're comparing these two types of winter squash gram for gram, you'll still find a bit more of every macronutrient (fat, protein and carbohydrates) in delicata squash, along with larger amounts of most nutrients (with the exception of a few B-complex vitamins).
Although delicata squash has more macronutrients and nutrients compared to spaghetti squash, it has slightly fewer macronutrients and nutrients compared to most other popularly consumed types of winter squash, like butternut squash. This ultimately means that if you're looking for the most nutritionally-rich winter squash, chances are it will come with the most protein, carbohydrates and fat, as well.
The Carbs in Delicata Squash
The carbohydrate content of delicata squash means that people on strict low-carb diets will likely avoid this nutrient-rich food. This is because strict diets like the ketogenic diet only allow around 20 to 50 grams of carbohydrates per day, minus fiber.
However, delicata squash is a perfectly healthy food for most people to consume. It's particularly healthy as it has less carbohydrates but more fiber compared to many other commonly consumed foods. A cup (200 grams) of sweet potatoes has 41.4 grams of carbohydrates with 6.6 grams of fiber, while the same amount of plantains has 62.3 grams of carbohydrates with 4.6 grams of fiber.
According to the Mayo Clinic, most people consuming a standard 2,000 calorie diet will ingest between 225 to 325 grams of carbohydrates on a daily basis. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming two and a half cups per day from vegetables and two cups per day from fruit.
While squash are usually considered to be vegetables, they're technically fruits. If you're consuming your daily recommended consumption of fruit through delicata squash, you'd be eating just 36.2 grams of carbohydrates. Even if you consider squash as part of the vegetable category, 2.5 cups are equal to just 45.25 grams of carbohydrates.
Given the number of nutrients in delicata squash, you should try to integrate winter squash like these into your diet when possible. With 18.1 carbs per cup, delicata squash is particularly well-suited to certain low-carb diets, like Atkins 100. As its name implies, Atkins 100 wants you to consume just 100 grams of carbohydrates per day. A third of your daily carbohydrates can easily go toward a nutritionally-rich food like winter squash.
If you're on a stricter low-carb diet, you can try some of winter squash's close relatives, like zucchini or pumpkin. A cup of zucchini (180 grams) has just 4.8 grams of carbohydrates, while a cup of pumpkin (245 grams) has 12 grams of carbohydrates.
- MyFoodData: "Nutrition Comparison of Cooked Acorn Squash, Cooked Butternut Squash, Cooked Winter Squash, and Cooked Spaghetti Squash"
- Journal of the College of Canadian Family Physician: "Ketogenic Diet for Weight Loss"
- MyFoodData: "Nutrition Comparison of Cooked Zucchini, Cooked Pumpkin, Plantains Cooked, and Cooked Sweet Potatoes"
- Mayo Clinic: "Carbohydrates: How Carbs Fit Into a Healthy Diet"
- Health.gov: "Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2015-2020"
- Atkins: "Atkins 100™: The Easy & Effective 100 Carbs a Day Lifestyle"