Yellow squash is a type of summer squash belonging to the same family as zucchini. It’s rich in fiber, vitamins A and C, and minerals like potassium. It’s also 95 percent water making it a low-calorie, low-carb vegetable suitable for various low-carb weight-loss diets. Find out more about yellow squash nutrition!
In appearance, yellow squash looks similar to zucchini except that it has yellow and lighter skin, big seeds, and doesn’t usually grow as big as a zucchini can.
This is probably because summer squash is picked earlier when less mature than winter squashes, which are harvested later after full maturity.
Yellow squash recipes:
Yellow squash nutrition:
Here’s what a medium, raw, yellow squash offers, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture:
- Calories: 38
- Protein: 2 grams
- Carbohydrates: 8 grams
- Fiber: 2 grams
- Fat: 0.5 gram
- Vitamin C: 39 milligrams, or 56 percent of the daily requirement
- Potassium: 444 milligrams, or 15 percent of the daily requirement
- Folate: 38 micrograms, or 14 percent of the daily requirement
- Vitamin K: 6.4 micrograms, or 11 percent of the daily requirement
- Vitamin B6: 0.2 milligrams, or 10 percent of the daily requirement
- Iron: 0.8 milligrams, or 9 percent of the daily requirement
- Vitamin A: 16 milligrams, or 8 percent of the daily requirement
- Magnesium: 40 milligrams, or 8 percent of the daily requirement
- Phosphorus: 64 milligrams, or 7 percent of the daily requirement
- Riboflavin: 0.1 milligrams, or 7 percent of the daily requirement
Health benefits of yellow squash:
Here are the benefits you stand to gain by consuming yellow squash
1. It’s an excellent source of vitamin C
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and prevents oxidative stress that may cause cell damage.
Increased vitamin C intake may also strengthen your immune system, promote a healthy mucous membrane, protect against cognitive decline, and promote collagen production, which boosts joint, skin, and hair health.
In addition, vitamin C is essential for the growth, development, and repair of body tissues, wound healing, and proper iron absorption.
2. It’s rich in antioxidants
Apart from vitamin C, yellow squash is rich in other antioxidants, including phenolic compounds and carotenoids, including beta carotene, Zeaxanthin, dehydroascorbic acid, and lutein. These are similar compounds that give carrots their orange color. They have been shown to protect against various chronic conditions, including cancer.
Beta-carotene, for instance, gets converted into an active form of vitamin A which helps promote skin health, boost immunity, improve eye health and maintain arterial health.
On the other hand, Zeaxanthin and lutein protect your eyes against vision loss and age-related conditions such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, and cataracts.
3. It’s a great addition to weight loss diets
If looking to lose weight, your body must operate at a caloric deficit to burn the stored energy.
Being low in sugar and calories but high in water content and fiber, consuming yellow squash can help you eat less by promoting fullness with minimal food intake while promoting fat loss for the provision of energy needed in the body.
4. It’s rich in iron and folate
Unlike animal sources of iron and folate, yellow squash is one of the healthy alternatives for these nutrients.
A cup of sliced yellow squash offers 9 percent of your daily iron requirement and 14 percent of your daily folate requirement.
These two nutrients are essential for maintaining normal red blood cell production and preventing anemia. Folate is also beneficial in pregnant women in the early months of pregnancy to support the nervous system and fetal brain development.
5. It may boost immunity
Like other orange and yellow colored vegetables, yellow squash is rich in alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. Besides promoting eye health, growth, and development, vitamin A plays an essential role in fighting inflammation which helps promote immunity. It also boosts the mucous barrier in the lungs, gut, and genitals which helps trap bacteria and other disease-causing pathogens.
6. It can lower cholesterol
Yellow squash is cholesterol-free, and it can help lower total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.
High cholesterol levels can cause fat to deposit in your arteries. This can grow and harden, forming plaque. Plaque causes narrowing of blood vessels, making it difficult for blood to flow, leading to complications such as high blood pressure stroke, heart attack, coronary artery disease, and peripheral vascular disease.
7. Offers anti-cancer effects
Squash contains a phytonutrient called beta-carotene, which scientists believe has anti-cancer effects. One study found that men who consumed more vegetables containing beta-carotene had a lower risk of prostate cancer. Additionally, studies have shown that carotenoids in general may play a role in preventing breast and skin cancer, among other cancers. Carotenoids are also found in foods like carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.
8. Yellow squash may promote eye health
Yellow squash is a good source of nutrients like beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A, which is a key nutrient for the eyes. Beta-carotene helps maintain eye health by reducing macular degeneration and your risk for cataracts. It also works with other antioxidants in your body to protect you from free radicals that can cause damage throughout your body. Additionally, some research suggests that beta-carotene may help prevent glaucoma and slow down age-related vision loss. Make sure you’re getting your daily dose by including some yellow squash on your lunch or dinner plate!
9. Supports liver function
A mild diuretic, yellow squash, may help flush out toxins and excess water from your body. Research has shown that individuals suffering from various liver ailments may benefit from including winter squash in their diet. Specifically, yellow squash contains phytonutrients called chlorogenic acids which have been found to reduce blood levels of gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT), a marker of liver disease severity (1). This is especially important for those with chronic hepatitis or other liver diseases.
10. Protects Against Age-Related Mental Decline
Carotenoids, like those found in yellow squash, work as antioxidants to prevent cell damage. Studies show that people who eat foods rich in carotenoids are at lower risk for mental decline associated with aging. This is particularly beneficial for people experiencing age-related memory loss. Increasing your intake of carotenoid-rich foods may also help slow down signs of aging as well as delay dementia symptoms.
How to include yellow squash in your diet
If you’re new to incorporating yellow squash into your diet, you may have noticed that the recipes you find seem to come up short on flavor. That’s because it’s tricky to cook yellow squash the right way: If they’re undercooked, they can be watery and bland, but if they’re overcooked, they can lose their beautiful golden color and become soft or mushy.
And while you can eat it raw, cooking improves its texture and taste. Cooking also makes it easier for the body to absorb certain nutrients such as vitamin B6 and beta-carotene.
Here are simple ways to add yellow squash to your diet so that you can enjoy its nutritional benefits without sacrificing taste.
Use it to replace pasta
Using yellow squash as a pasta substitute is an excellent way to up your veggie intake and cut calories. Simply use a spiralizer to turn yellow squash into spaghetti-like noodles, then toss it with garlic and oil for an incredibly easy meal. Alternatively, you can add squash cubes or strips directly into regular pasta dishes for more veggie goodness.
Use it in place of noodles:
Tossing spaghetti squash into pasta dishes can make them healthier while keeping them tasty. You can also try using yellow squash as a noodle replacement in Asian dishes like pad thai or lo mein. You might be surprised how much you like them!
Use it in place of breadcrumbs
Breadcrumbs are often used in meatballs, meatloaf, and other ground-meat recipes. Instead of using breadcrumbs to hold these foods together, try replacing them with yellow squash instead! This works especially well if you’re making vegetarian meatballs – just mix some spices in with some cooked squash, roll them into balls and bake away!
Blend it into a smoothie
It’s a great way to get your kids (or you) to eat more vegetables. Blend up some frozen bananas, blueberries, honey, and frozen yellow squash for a delicious summer smoothie. Not only is it delicious but it’s packed with fiber and antioxidants.
Roasting yellow squash brings natural sweetness, making it a versatile addition to any meal. Simply toss cubed squash with some extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt, then roast at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 15–20 minutes. The high heat will give you nice caramelization on your squash, and you can use it in place of other root vegetables in most recipes that call for potatoes or sweet potatoes. Or simply eat them as a side dish!
If you have leftover roasted squash, store it in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag for up to three days. You can also freeze leftover roasted squash for up to three months. When ready to serve, just thaw overnight in your refrigerator and reheat using one of these methods: In a skillet over medium heat; In a microwave; In an oven preheated to 350 degrees F;
Some people may prefer adding it into soup or stew when reheating because roasted squash can become very soft after thawing.
Stuff with quinoa and veggies
Cook quinoa in your favorite vegetable broth and toss with veggies like yellow squash, mushrooms, bell peppers, eggplant, or whatever you have in your fridge. Also, try stuffing yellow squash with ground tofu or cheese and use it as a side dish or part of an entree. You could also stuff it with black beans for another satisfying vegetarian option. Stuffed Yellow Squash makes a great appetizer for any party!
As a Base For Curry
Yellow squash is perfect for curry recipes because its mild flavor works well when paired with stronger spices. And since yellow squash is very low in calories, fat and carbs, it’s a good choice if you’re trying to lose weight. Try replacing potatoes or rice with yellow squash in your favorite curries.
Turn it into soup
If you’re looking for a warm and comforting dish that tastes great and is also very healthy, squash soup is perfect. Put a few slices of yellow squash in a pot with some vegetable broth, add a little salt and pepper, and bring it all to a boil. Once it starts boiling, simmer for about 5 minutes or until you’ve achieved your desired consistency. Top with fresh herbs or sliced scallions for an extra pop of flavor.
How to shop for the best yellow squash?
Yellow squash is easy to find at the farmer’s market or grocery store; however, picking the best is key to experiencing its benefits.
When shopping for squashes, go for those with bright yellow, smooth skin without nicks or bruises. They should also be firm without wrinkles, soft or wet spots to ensure freshness.
Squash is known to absorb a good amount of compounds in the soil it grows in, so getting organic would be the best option to avoid contaminants and acquire plenty of nutrients.
Squash can stay fresh for a few days when kept at room temperature. However, you can cover it with a loose plastic bag and store it in the refrigerator to keep it longer. You can also clean and chop it into small pieces for freezing. Frozen squash can be great for soups and puree.
Final thoughts on yellow squash nutrition:
Yellow squash is a type of summer squash low in calories but rich in water content, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants such as beta and alpha-carotene.
Their high water and low-calorie content make them suitable for diabetes and weight loss diets.
Regular consumption of yellow squash may promote weight loss, lower cholesterol, boost immunity, aid weight loss, and increase iron and folate intake, thus reducing the risk of anemia.
More vegetables to try:
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