Butternut Squash: Nutritional Facts and Health Benefits

Butternut squash (Curcubita moschata) is a type of winter squash that belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. It is botanically a fruit. (1) This fruit is believed to be originated in America. South and Central America and Turkey are the major producers of this fruit. (2)

The word “squash” comes from the Narragansett Native American word askutasquash, which means “eaten raw or uncooked.” (3) 

Butternut squash is a nutrient-dense fruit with many vitamins and minerals. It is rich in dietary fiber, calcium, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin A. It is well-known for its high beta-carotene composition. It also contains folate and cryptoxanthin.

The nutritional composition of this fruit is believed to protect cells from free radical damage and also avoid certain chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and blood pressure. (4)

Butternut squash is oval with a bell bottom, shaped like an elongated pear. (5) It has a pale orange outer covering with bright orange inner flesh. The flavor of the fruit is sweet and nutty.

The flavor resembles a mixture of sweet potato and a carrot or turnip. The texture of both skin and flesh of this fruit is hard and firm. (6) 

Butternut squash is consumed both raw and in cooked form. All cooked, baked, boiled, and roasted butternut squash is served in many dishes. The thick consistency of this fruit is suitable for making soups and stews. It is also added to salads and curry.

One can also use this fruit in making baby food, pies, and other bakery items. The seeds are also edible, both cooked and uncooked.

Nutritional Facts

Butternut squash is a sweet fruit packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It is also a host of phytonutrients and antioxidants like vitamin C, beta-carotene, and vitamin E. Analysis of raw butternut squash and daily adult requirements are mentioned below. (7,8) 

Butternut squash is a good source of protein, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, sugar, and calories. It can be an excellent hydrator, containing 84.4 grams of water per 100 grams. It has a negligible amount of fat (0.1 g/100 g). 

NutritionAmount (per 100 grams)Daily Adult Requirements
Water86.4 g
Calories45 kcal2000 – 2,500 Kcal
Protein1 g50-70 g*
Carbohydrate11.7 g300 – 375 g
Dietary fiber2 g25 – 30 g
Sugar 2.2 g

* National Academy of Medicine recommends that adults get a minimum of 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight per day. 

Vitamins: Butternut squash contains several vitamins. It is very high in vitamin A, beta-carotene, and cryptoxanthin. Thiamin (0.1 mg/100 g), riboflavin (0.02 mg/100 g), and niacin (1.2 mg/100 g) are also present in this fruit. Vitamin C in this fruit (21 mg/100 g) is higher than in zucchini (12.9 mg/ 100 g), which belongs to the same family. 

NutritionAmount (per 100 grams)Daily Adult Requirements
Vitamin C21 mg75 mg –  90 mg*
Vitamin A10600 IU2,333 –  3,000 IU
Vitamin B60.154 mg1.3 mg –  1.7 mg
Vitamin E1.44 mg15 mg
Beta-carotene4230 mcg
Folate27 mcg400 mcg
Cryptoxanthin 3470 mcg

* Adequate intake (AI) level determined by National Academy of Medicine. 

Minerals: Butternut squash is a mineral-dense fruit with reasonable amounts of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and sodium. It also contains iron (0.7 mg/100 g), zinc (0.15 mg/100 g), and manganese (0.202 mg/100 g). Calcium in this fruit (48 mg/100 g) is higher than that in yam (17 mg/100 g). 

NutritionAmount (per 100 grams)Daily Adult Requirements
Calcium, Ca48 mg1,000 – 1,200 mg
Magnesium, Mg34 mg310 –  420 mg
Phosphorus, P33 mg700 mg
Potassium, K352 mg2,600 – 3,400 mg*
Sodium, Na4 mg<2,300 mg*

* Adequate intake (AI) level determined by National Academy of Medicine. 

g-gram, mg-milligram, mcg-microgram, IU-International units, kcal-kilocalorie

Health Benefits

Butternut squash is not only a sweet fruit but is also packed with several nutritional components, serving body health. This fruit is associated with protecting the body from chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and bone diseases and building immunity. 

The significant health benefits of consuming butternut squash are

  1. Can be good for eye health: Butternut squash contains both beta carotene and vitamin A in good quantity. Beta carotene is also converted into vitamin A by our body. These components protect our eyes from free radical damage and are suitable for vision and eye health. (1) The eye diseases like cataracts, macular degeneration, and glaucoma are also prevented by this fruit. (9)
  1. Can maintain blood pressure: Lower sodium and a higher potassium intake is one way of maintaining blood pressure. (10) As butternut squash is high in potassium, it can balance the fluid in our body and regulate blood flow. (9) This results in maintaining blood pressure in our bodies.
  1. Can promote bone health: Butternut squash is rich in calcium, zinc, and beta-carotene. Calcium supports the growth and flexibility of our bones. It can also repair damaged tissues of bone. (9) The nutritional components in this fruit can prevent the risk of osteoporosis (a disease related to the weakening of bones). (5)
  1. Can protect heart health: Butternut squash is packed with vitamin C, beta-carotene, and vitamin E, which possess antioxidant properties. (1) Beta-carotene, an antioxidant, is believed to maintain blood pressure and prevent stroke and heart attack. Other minerals like potassium, copper and iron promote blood circulation, repair damaged tissues, and ease the pain of swelling and inflammation. (9)
  1. Can prevent certain cancer: Antioxidants in butternut squash, like vitamin C and beta carotene, possess antioxidant properties. These components protect cells from free radical damage and prevent the growth of tumor cells. (1) Intake of vitamin A is also associated with reducing lung cancer. (5)

Butternut squash is a healthy fruit packed with nutritional components. Adding this fruit to our diet serves to maintain our health. Despite all the benefits, this fruit is suggested not to consume by one who is on medication of beta-blockers or ACE inhibitors. (10) Being high in potassium, one with kidney and heart problems should consult their physician before consuming. (9) Rare cases of allergy can also be seen. (5) 

  1. Kubala J. Butternut squash: Nutrition, benefits, and uses [Internet]. Healthline. Healthline Media; 2019 [cited 2023Jan24]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/butternut-squash 
  2. Balkaya, Ahmet & Kandemir, Dilek. (2015). An overview of winter squash (Cucurbita maxima Duch.) and pumpkin (Cucurbita moschata Duch.) growing in Turkey. Azarian Journal of Agriculture. 2. 57-64. 
  3. How did the squash get its name? [Internet]. The Library of Congress. [cited 2023Jan24]. Available from: https://www.loc.gov/everyday-mysteries/agriculture/item/how-did-squash-get-its-name/ 
  4. Shoemaker SV. 8 delicious types of squash [Internet]. Healthline. Healthline Media; 2019 [cited 2023Jan24]. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/types-of-squash#TOC_TITLE_HDR_3 
  5. nutritionist NS– R. Top 5 health benefits of butternut squash [Internet]. BBC Good Food. BBC Good Food; 2021 [cited 2023Jan24]. Available from: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-butternut-squash 
  6. Health benefits of butternut squash [Internet]. WebMD. WebMD; [cited 2023Jan24]. Available from: https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/butternut-squash-health-benefits 
  7. Fooddata Central Search Results [Internet]. FoodData Central. [cited 2023Jan24]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169295/nutrients 
  8. Institute of Medicine 2006. Dietary Reference Intakes: The Essential Guide to Nutrient Requirements. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10.17226/11537
  9. Butternut squash: Health benefits, nutrition, uses, recipes and side effects [Internet]. Netmeds. [cited 2023Jan24]. Available from: https://www.netmeds.com/health-library/post/butternut-squash-health-benefits-nutrition-uses-recipes-and-side-effects 
  10. Butternut squash: Health benefits, uses, and possible risks [Internet]. Medical News Today. MediLexicon International; [cited 2023Jan24]. Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/284479

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