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November 3, 2023
May 17, 2024
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Squash, a versatile and nutrient-rich vegetable, has gained popularity for its various culinary applications and potential health benefits. With its diverse varieties, including butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash, it serves as a significant source of vitamins A and C, as well as dietary fiber. Moreover, despite its natural sweetness and carbohydrate content, squash boasts a relatively low glycemic index, making it a favorable dietary choice for individuals monitoring their blood sugar levels and seeking to manage their risk of type 2 diabetes. 

Understanding the impact of squash on blood sugar regulation can provide crucial insights into its role as a valuable component of a balanced and diabetes-friendly diet.

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Glycemic Index Table

A standard serving of 100 grams of raw butternut squash contains approximately 12 grams of carbohydrates.¹ The glycemic index of squash is estimated to be around 50, indicating a moderate impact on blood sugar levels.² By multiplying the glycemic index by the carbohydrate content (12g), we find that the Glycemic Load (GL) per serving is 6, signifying a relatively low glycemic load that is less likely to cause rapid spikes in blood sugar levels. 

When considering the impact of cooking on the glycemic index, it's important to note that the method and duration of cooking can influence the glycemic index of squash. Roasting, for instance, can slightly increase the glycemic index due to caramelization processes, while steaming or boiling might help retain a lower glycemic index. Understanding these nuances can guide individuals in making informed dietary choices for better blood sugar management and overall health.

Glycemic Index

50

Serving Size

100g

Carbohydrate* per Serving (g)

12 g

GL per Serving

6.00

Nutritional Facts

Squash is a nutrient-dense vegetable renowned for its rich content of vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber. It is notably high in vitamins A and C, essential for immune function and skin health, while also providing a significant dose of potassium, which supports heart health and helps regulate blood pressure. Furthermore, the dietary fiber found in squash aids digestion and promotes a feeling of fullness, making it a valuable addition to a balanced diet.

The nutritional information below is for 100 g of squash.¹

Calories

106.75 kcal

Carbs

12 g

Protein

5.39 g

Fiber

1.52 g

Cholesterol

15.45 mg

Vitamins

A (90.85 µg), B12 (0.17 µg), B6 (0.17 mg), C (12.72 mg), D (3.33 IU).

Sodium

189.35 mg

Total Fat

5.15 g

Is Squash Good for Weight Loss?

Squash can be a valuable addition to a weight loss diet due to its low-calorie content and high dietary fiber, which can promote satiety and reduce overall calorie intake. Its nutrient-dense profile, including vitamins A and C, along with essential minerals, supports overall health and provides vital nutrients necessary for a balanced diet during weight loss. Additionally, its versatility allows for various preparation methods, making it a satisfying and flavorful component of meals while maintaining a calorie-controlled diet. Understanding the role of squash in promoting satiety and providing essential nutrients can help individuals incorporate it into their weight loss journey effectively.

Is Squash Safe for People Living with Diabetes?

Squash can be a safe and beneficial addition to the diets of individuals with diabetes, as it generally has a low glycemic index and is rich in essential nutrients such as vitamins A and C and dietary fiber. Its low glycemic index can help prevent rapid spikes in blood sugar levels, making it a suitable option for maintaining stable glucose levels. Moreover, the dietary fiber content in squash aids in slowing down the absorption of sugar, promoting better blood sugar control and overall metabolic health. Understanding the favorable nutritional profile of squash can guide individuals with diabetes in making informed dietary choices to support their overall well-being.

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Allergies

While allergies to squash are relatively uncommon, they can occur, typically manifesting as symptoms such as itching, swelling, or hives upon contact or ingestion. In some rare cases, squash allergies might also trigger more severe reactions, including anaphylaxis, characterized by difficulty breathing and a sudden drop in blood pressure. It's important for individuals experiencing any adverse reactions to squash to consult a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and guidance. 

Additionally, being aware of cross-reactivity between certain types of squash and other foods, such as melons or certain pollens, can provide crucial insights for individuals with known allergies to avoid potential allergic triggers.

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FAQs

What is Glycemic Index?

The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly a carbohydrate-containing food raises blood sugar levels compared to a reference food, usually glucose. It ranks foods on a scale from 0 to 100, with higher values indicating a faster rise in blood sugar. The glycemic index (GI) scale is typically categorized as follows: Low GI [55 or less], Medium GI [56-69], High GI [70 or higher]. Foods with a high glycemic index digest rapidly and can cause dramatic fluctuations in blood glucose or glucose spikes.

What is Glycemic Load?

Glycemic load (GL) takes into account both the quality (glycemic index) and quantity (carbohydrate content) of carbohydrates in a specific serving of food. It is a measure of how much a particular food will raise blood sugar levels. GL is calculated by multiplying the glycemic index of a food by its carbohydrate content and dividing it by 100. It provides a more accurate representation of the overall impact of a food on blood sugar compared to the glycemic index alone.

Does Squash Spike Insulin?

Yes, squash can spike insulin levels. Squash is a starchy vegetable that contains carbohydrates, which can cause a rise in blood sugar levels and trigger the release of insulin. However, the extent to which squash affects insulin levels can vary depending on the type of squash and how it is prepared. It is important to consume squash in moderation and pair it with other foods that can help regulate blood sugar levels, such as protein and fiber.

Is Squash Low Glycemic?

Yes, squash is low glycemic as it has a glycemic index of 75 or lower.

Can People Living with Diabetes Eat Squash?

Yes, people living with diabetes can eat squash as it is a low glycemic index vegetable that can help regulate blood sugar levels. However, it is important to monitor portion sizes and consume it as part of a balanced diet.

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References

  1. USDA FoodData Central. (2019, April 1). Food Details - Squash, winter, acorn, raw. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168472/nutrients 
  2. The University of Sydney. (2023, May 1). Glycemic Index – Glycemic Index Research and GI Newshttps://glycemicindex.com/

About the author

It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout.

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About the author

Brittany Barry is a national board-certified health coach and NASM-certified personal trainer based in South Carolina.

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Please note: The Signos team is committed to sharing insightful and actionable health articles that are backed by scientific research, supported by expert reviews, and vetted by experienced health editors. The Signos blog is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have or suspect you have a medical problem, promptly contact your professional healthcare provider. Read more about our editorial process and content philosophy here.

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