7 Incredible Benefits of Acorn Squash

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

The health benefits of acorn squash include a boosted immune system, improved vision, protection of the skin, strengthening of the bones, reduced blood pressure, maintained fluid balance, regulated blood sugar and cholesterol, improved digestion, and proper circulation.

What is Acorn Squash?

Acorn squash is aptly named because when fully grown, they look quite similar to large acorns, except they are green and heavily ridged around the exterior. The scientific name of acorn squash is Cucurbita pepo (var. turbinata). They are also commonly known as pepper squash or Des Moines Squash. Although they are considered a winter squash in terms of seasonality and the time when they are eaten/reach maturity, they belong to the same species as summer squashes. Both the flesh and the trumpet flowers that grow from the top of the squash are edible, although the leaves and flowers are more commonly eaten in countries such as the Philippines. Acorn squash, like most other squash varieties, can be baked, sauteed, steamed, stuffed or mixed in with other meat and vegetable dishes.

Historically, acorn squash was frequently used by Native Americans, as it originated in North and Central America. It has spread across the world, thanks to the European explorers who took the squash seeds back to their lands and began to cultivate this hearty and nutritious fruit. Besides the delicious taste and the harsh conditions in which acorn squash can grow, it is also more nutrient-dense than any of its other summer squash relatives, making it an invaluable part of a healthy and balanced diet. Let’s take a closer look at this dark green fruit and find out what makes it such a healthy and nutritious food source.

Half sliced acorn squash with a knife on a wooden cutting board

Acorn squash is also called pepper squash or Des Moines squash. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Squash, winter, acorn, raw
Serving Size :
Water [g]87.78
Energy [kcal]40
Energy [kJ]167
Protein [g]0.8
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.1
Ash [g]0.9
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]10.42
Fiber, total dietary [g]1.5
Calcium, Ca [mg]33
Iron, Fe [mg]0.7
Magnesium, Mg [mg]32
Phosphorus, P [mg]36
Potassium, K [mg]347
Sodium, Na [mg]3
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.13
Copper, Cu [mg]0.07
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.17
Selenium, Se [µg]0.5
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]11
Thiamin [mg]0.14
Riboflavin [mg]0.01
Niacin [mg]0.7
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.4
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.15
Folate, total [µg]17
Folate, food [µg]17
Folate, DFE [µg]17
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]18
Carotene, beta [µg]220
Vitamin A, IU [IU]367
Lutein + zeaxanthin [µg]38
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.02
16:0 [g]0.02
18:0 [g]0
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.01
18:1 [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.04
18:2 [g]0.02
18:3 [g]0.03
Tryptophan [g]0.01
Threonine [g]0.02
Isoleucine [g]0.03
Leucine [g]0.05
Lysine [g]0.03
Methionine [g]0.01
Cystine [g]0.01
Phenylalanine [g]0.03
Tyrosine [g]0.03
Valine [g]0.03
Arginine [g]0.04
Histidine [g]0.02
Alanine [g]0.03
Aspartic acid [g]0.09
Glutamic acid [g]0.14
Glycine [g]0.03
Proline [g]0.03
Serine [g]0.03
Sources include : USDA

Nutritional Value of Acorn Squash

As mentioned above, acorn squash is extremely nutrient-dense for its size, but also, it has a diverse range of nutrients. It is rich in dietary fiber, like most fruits and vegetables, while also being very low in saturated fat, cholesterol, and sodium. In terms of vitamins and minerals, acorn squash has significant levels of vitamin C, vitamin A, thiamin, pantothenic acid, and other B-family vitamins, and its range of minerals is truly impressive, including potassium, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, phosphorous, and calcium.

Health Benefits of Acorn Squash

The health benefits of acorn squash are mentioned below;

Boosts Immunity

Acorn squash is a great source of vitamin C, which is one of the best ways to boost your immune system. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, stimulates the production of white blood cells, which defend the body from pathogens and other unwanted germs/microbes. Furthermore, vitamin C is an important part of the body’s development, in terms of muscle tissue, blood vessels, teeth, skin, and organs. Vitamin C also works as an antioxidant, helping to protect the body from serious conditions, like heart diseases.

Improves Vision

Vitamin A is found in significant quantities in acorn squash, and while that isn’t an unusual vitamin to find, high levels of it mean high levels of beta-carotene as well, which is a very good antioxidant to have in our system. Specifically, beta-carotene has been directly linked to reducing oxidative stress in the eyes, which means that cataracts and macular degeneration can be prevented with proper intake of the vitamin A in acorn squash.

Skin Care

Along with protecting the eyes, vitamin A also plays an important role in maintaining skin health. The antioxidant compounds derived from vitamin A, as well as other vitamins found in acorn squash, ensure that the skin looks young and toned. They also help to eliminate blemishes and scars, speed the healing of wounds, and protect the skin from pathogens and premature aging.

Controls Diabetes

Perhaps the most significant component found in acorn squash is dietary fiber that regulates our digestion by adding bulk to our bowel movements and eliminating constipation, diarrhea, cramping, and bloating. Furthermore, it regulates the levels of blood sugar in the body, thereby helping to prevent the development of diabetes and maintaining stable glucose levels.

Regulates Blood Pressure

The high content of potassium found in this delicious variety of squash means that blood pressure can be maintained at a safe level. Potassium is a vasodilator, meaning that it relaxes blood vessels and arteries, thereby reducing stress on the heart and lowering blood pressure. Potassium also helps to regulate the fluid balance in the cells and tissues, boosting metabolic efficiency and keeping our enzymatic and cellular pathways functioning properly. Magnesium regulates the uptake of potassium, so the high content of magnesium in acorn squash makes these effects even stronger.

Builds Strong Bones

Acorn squash has a wide variety of minerals, including calcium, manganese, magnesium, copper, iron, and phosphorous. Many of these minerals are integral parts in the development of new bones, as well as the regrowth and healing of the bone matter we already have. Sufficient mineral diversity in the body can help to prevent osteoporosis and ensure that our bones remain strong and functional well into our later years.

Word of Caution: Acorn squash is very high in carbohydrates, and while there aren’t any simple sugars in acorn squash, as you would normally find in carbohydrates, they still fill the body up in terms of calories. Those on low-carb diets should probably choose another fruit to complement their dietary restrictions.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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