Squash and Diabetes
Squash is referred to as a 'functional food' because it offers several health advantages beyond the traditional nutrients that it contains. Despite its numerous benefits, one unwavering question remains — Is it safe for diabetics to eat squash? If so, does it offer benefits that may also help alleviate diabetes symptoms?
We’ll provide answers to these and many other questions surrounding the use of squash—a fruit often cooked as a vegetable—in diabetes. Join us as we look at available data that focus on the relationship between squash and diabetes.
- Protein 1.1 g
- Carbohydrate 15 g
- Fat 0.1 g
- Fiber 4.4 g
- Sugar 0 g
- Cholesterol 0 g
Nutritional Value of Squash
There are different types of squash and they all have varying nutritional contents. Acorn squash and butternut squash are two types of squash that are high in vitamins, fiber, and are a good source of other nutrients.
According to the USDA, a cup of cubed acorn squash offers 14.6 g of carbs and 56 cal, while a similar serving of butternut squash yields relatively higher amounts — 16.4 g of carbs and 63 cal. In addition, the former contains 1.12 g of protein and 2.1 g of fiber, while the latter offers 1.4 g and 2.8 g, respectively.
Their high fiber content labels them as healthy digestion-promoting foods, crucial for managing ailments like diabetes. Additionally, they are low glycemic index (GO) and low glycemic load (GL) foods with values of 51 and 8, respectively. Squash is also high in antioxidants like carotene and vitamin C.
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Benefits of Squash Consumption for Diabetes
Here are some reasons why you should consider eating squash as a diabetic.
Squash contains high antioxidant contents — substances that protect cells from injury. Antioxidant-rich diets have been proven to lower the chance of developing various chronic illnesses, including heart disease.
Squash is exceptionally high in carotenoids, which are plant pigments with potent antioxidant properties. Winter squash, such as the acorn variety, features among the foods with the highest alpha-carotene content (carrots inclusive).
It Can Boost Your Immunity
The body's ability to mobilize regular immune defenses and nutrients that fight infection and promote healing is impaired when blood flow is reduced due to diabetes.
Squash, especially acorn squash, is high in vitamin C, making it one of the best foods for promoting a robust immune system. Vitamin C aids the stimulation of white blood cell formation, which protects the body from infections and other harmful germs/microbes. It also functions as an antioxidant, assisting in the prevention of major illnesses like heart disease.
It Promotes Good Heart-Health
Squash can also help you stay healthy in several ways, including reduced heart disease risk.
Vegetable-rich diets (squash inclusive) can help reduce risk factors for heart disease like LDL (bad) cholesterol and high blood pressure. They can also protect against atherosclerosis, an accumulation of plaque in the arteries that raises the risk of stroke and heart attack.
It Regulates Blood Pressure
The high potassium content of squash makes them beneficial for the maintenance of optimal blood pressure levels. Potassium is a vasodilator, which means it relaxes blood vessels and arteries, lowering blood pressure and relieving stress on the heart.
Potassium may also aid the regulation of fluid equilibrium in cells and tissues, increasing metabolic efficiency and ensuring that our enzymatic and cellular pathways remain in good working order. Because magnesium modulates potassium absorption, the high magnesium level in squash may intensify these effects.
It Aids Bone Development
People with diabetes are more likely to develop bone and joint disorders due to a low bone mineral density, as well as obesity, arterial damage, and increased nerve damage. Thankfully, the minerals in squash can help keep the bones healthy and strong.
According to studies on squash and diabetes, the intake of butternut and spaghetti squash, has found tremendous benefits in developing strong bones. Calcium, manganese, copper, iron, and phosphorus are just a few of the minerals found in squash. Many of these minerals play an essential role in the formation of new bones, as well as the renewal and mending of existing bone tissue.
It Enhances Digestive Health
Although several factors may induce heartburn, nausea, or bloating, diabetics should pay more attention to these digestion issues.
These symptoms may indicate diabetic gastroparesis, a condition where food remains in the stomach for extended periods, causing intestinal bacterial overgrowth and the formation of lumps (bezoar) in the stomach. Eating a high-fiber diet like squash puts you on track to digestive wellness. Butternut squash, for instance, offers an impressive 8–11.2% DV fiber content.
Moreover, eating squash can help you avoid other digestive issues, including constipation. Namely, the magnesium content in squash is known for its laxative and stool softening properties.
How to Incorporate Squash Into Your Diet
Aside from the myriad of potential health benefits squash offer, it’s a highly delicious complement to sweet and savory meals because of its pleasant, somewhat nutty flavor.
You can use it as a quick side dish when roasted, baked, or microwaved.
Although the numerous healthy properties of squash may seem enticing, they pack a considerable calorie count. This means you should eat them in small amounts, as recommended by your physician.
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