Spaghetti squash, a type of winter squash, gets its name from the pale-yellow flesh that can be fluffed into stringy, pasta-like threads. It has a very mild flavor and, unlike other winter squash, does not have much sweetness. So you can use spaghetti squash in both savory and sweet dishes. Consider eating it warm, topped with pasta sauce or tossed with a small amount of olive oil and fresh herbs, or serve it chilled with sun-dried red peppers, olives and feta cheese.
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Calories and Fat
Most varieties of winter squash contain almost twice the calories per serving of spaghetti squash, which has only 42 calories per cup, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. It's also very low in fat, with less than 0.5 grams of fat per cup. Spaghetti squash contains about 92 percent water by weight, which may account for its lack of calories. These qualities make spaghetti squash a good choice for weight-loss or weight-management plans. It will fill you up without adding a lot of calories or fat to your daily total.
Spaghetti squash also fits well into a low-carb or diabetes meal plan. It contains only 10 grams of total carbohydrates per cup, whereas most types of winter squash have at least 18 grams. Of the total, 4 grams come from natural sugar in the squash, and 2 grams come from dietary fiber. Eating a diet rich in fiber may regulate digestion, reduce constipation, lower your cholesterol and help you manage your weight, according to Colorado State University Extension.
You'll get small amounts of almost every essential vitamin from eating spaghetti squash. Vitamin C and vitamin B-6 are the vitamins found in highest concentration in the squash. Vitamin C plays a role in the growth and repair of body proteins, aids in wound healing and supports your immune system. It's also an antioxidant that helps defend your body against harmful free radicals. Vitamin B-6 is involved in over 100 enzyme reactions in your body, including energy metabolism and hemoglobin production, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements.
Every essential mineral is found in trace amounts in the flesh of spaghetti squash. The mineral potassium plays a part in building muscle, metabolizing carbohydrates and maintaining proper muscle function in your body. It also functions as an electrolyte, helping to regulate fluid balance and the acidity, or pH, of your blood. Replacing electrolytes is essential any time you sweat heavily or lose body fluids. Without enough potassium you may experience weak muscles, an abnormal heart rhythm or an elevated blood pressure, according to MedlinePlus. Spaghetti squash also contains the minerals calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and sodium.
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Squash, Winter, Spaghetti, Cooked, Boiled, Drained, or Baked, Without Salt
- Colorado State University Extension: Dietary Fiber
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Squash, Winter, All Varieties, Cooked, Baked, Without Salt
- MedlinePlus: Vitamin C
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Vitamin B6
- MedlinePlus: Electrolytes
- MedlinePlus: Potassium in Diet