Buttercup squash is a winter squash that is a staple food for many people trying to lose weight. With its sweet and creamy flesh, buttercup squash makes a satisfying addition to any healthy weight loss diet. But is buttercup squash actually effective for weight loss? Let’s take a closer look at the nutritional benefits of buttercup squash and how it can help support your weight loss goals.
What is buttercup squash?
Buttercup squash, also known as a kabocha squash, is a green-skinned winter squash that typically weighs between 2 and 3 pounds. It has a deep orange, dense flesh that has a sweet, nutty flavor similar to pumpkin.
While there are several varieties of winter squash, buttercup squash stands out for its unique shape. It has a bulbous bottom half and a flared top half that creates a cup-like shape, which is where it gets its name.
Buttercup squash has green skin that can range from dark to light green. The flesh is a vibrant orange color. When cooked, buttercup squash has a smooth, creamy texture that lends itself well to soups, stews, baked goods, and casseroles.
Nutritional profile of buttercup squash
One of the reasons that buttercup squash is an excellent choice for weight loss diets is its stellar nutritional profile.
Here is an overview of the key nutrients found in 1 cup of cooked buttercup squash (133 grams):
- Calories: 82
- Protein: 1.8 g
- Carbohydrates: 21 g
- Fiber: 3 g
- Sugar: 4 g
- Fat: 0.1 g
- Vitamin A: 1,144 mcg (128% DV)
- Vitamin C: 24 mg (27% DV)
- Potassium: 582 mg (17% DV)
- Calcium: 55 mg (6% DV)
- Iron: 1.4 mg (8% DV)
As you can see, buttercup squash is low in calories and fat, yet packed with important vitamins and minerals like vitamins A and C, potassium, and calcium.
It also provides a good amount of fiber. The fiber in buttercup squash helps promote feelings of fullness and satisfaction after eating, which is beneficial for weight management.
Benefits of buttercup squash for weight loss
There are several key ways that incorporating buttercup squash into your diet can support weight loss:
Low calorie density
With only 82 calories in a one cup serving, buttercup squash is a low calorie food. This makes it easy to fill up on fewer calories, which is helpful for creating a calorie deficit for weight loss.
The creamy, smooth texture of buttercup squash allows you to make hearty, filling dishes without overdoing it on the calories.
High fiber content
Buttercup squash provides 3 grams of fiber per serving. Fiber is vital for weight loss because it slows digestion and helps control blood sugar spikes.
Fiber also expands in the stomach and promotes feelings of fullness. By keeping you satiated after your meal, the fiber in buttercup squash prevents overeating.
In addition to being low in calories, buttercup squash packs in important vitamins and minerals like vitamins A and C.
Choosing nutrient-dense foods like buttercup squash means you get more nutritional bang for your calorie buck. This allows you to eat foods that nourish your body while still supporting calorie deficit.
Unlike some other winter squash, buttercup squash is deliciously sweet. Its adaptable flavor and velvety texture allows it to be used in both sweet and savory dishes.
For example, buttercup squash works great in:
- Hearty stews
- Creamy bisques
- Wholesome casseroles
- Sweet baked goods like muffins and breads
- Vibrant soups
- Fluffy pancakes and waffles
Having so many options for enjoying buttercup squash helps keep your diet exciting and prevents boredom and food ruts.
Downsides of buttercup squash for weight loss
While buttercup squash offers many benefits for those trying to lose weight, there are a couple potential downsides to be aware of as well:
High carbohydrate count
One cup of buttercup squash contains 21 grams of carbohydrates. While the carbohydrates in buttercup squash are full of nutrients, some people need to watch their carb intake on a weight loss diet, such as those following a ketogenic diet.
If you are monitoring your carbohydrates, you may want to exercise portion control when eating buttercup squash.
Natural sugar content
With 4 grams of naturally-occurring sugar per serving, buttercup squash is higher in sugar compared to some other vegetables.
Again, the sugar in squash is not the same as added sugars found in processed foods. However, individuals with prediabetes or diabetes may need to be mindful of the sugar content.
How to incorporate buttercup squash into a healthy weight loss diet
Here are some simple ways to add more buttercup squash into your diet to promote weight loss:
Make it the base for meals
Turn buttercup squash into the star of your meal by stuffing it and baking it or simply roasting wedges in the oven. Top it with lean protein like chicken sausage and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese for a balanced meal.
You can also hollow out buttercup squash and use it instead of pasta shells or lasagna noodles for a lower carb, veggie-packed dish.
Blend it into soups or stews
The velvety texture of buttercup squash makes it perfect for mixing into stews, chilis, and soups. You can roast or steam the squash first before adding it to the pot for maximum smoothness.
Swap it for mashed potatoes
For a healthier spin on mashed potatoes, try mashed buttercup squash instead. Simply scoop out the flesh, mash it up with a bit of almond milk, and season with garlic, salt, and pepper.
Whip it into baked goods
Harness the natural sweetness of buttercup squash in healthier muffins, breads, pancakes, and other baked treats. Replace up to half the oil or butter with pureed buttercup squash for extra moisture.
Get creative with the seeds
Don’t throw away the seeds when you carve your squash!Clean and roast the seeds for a nutritious snack full of protein, fiber, and minerals.
Store it properly
Maximize the shelf life by storing whole, uncut buttercup squash in a cool, dry place. Once cut, tightly wrap chunks in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to one week.
Buttercup squash recipes for weight loss
Here are some nutritious and delicious buttercup squash recipes to help you on your weight loss journey:
Buttercup squash and kale frittata
This protein-packed veggie frittata makes a satisfying breakfast or light dinner. It’s filled with nutrition from squash, kale, and egg whites.
- 1 cup diced raw buttercup squash
- 1 cup roughly chopped kale
- 1/4 cup diced onion
- 6 egg whites
- 2 whole eggs
- 1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray.
- In a skillet over medium-high heat, sauté the squash and onion until fork tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the kale and continue cooking until wilted, about 1-2 minutes more.
- In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg whites. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add the squash mixture and egg mixture to the prepared pie pan. Top with feta cheese.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until set.
- Let cool 5 minutes, then slice and serve.
Creamy buttercup squash soup
This easy soup comes together quickly in the blender. Buttercup squash gives it a velvety texture and plenty of nutrients.
- 3 cups cubed, roasted buttercup squash
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 3 cups vegetable broth
- 1/4 tsp dried sage
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook 5 minutes until translucent. Add garlic and cook 30 seconds more.
- Add onion mixture, squash, broth, and sage to a blender. Puree until very smooth.
- Return to pan and warm over medium-low heat. Season with salt and pepper.
- Top servings with roasted squash seeds, sage, and a swirl of Greek yogurt if desired.
Turkey-stuffed buttercup squash
These stuffed squash halves are an easy prep, healthy one-pan meal. Fill them with lean ground turkey, veggies, and chickpeas for extra protein and fiber.
- 1 large buttercup squash
- 1 lb 93% lean ground turkey
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1/4 cup whole wheat panko breadcrumbs
- 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Halve squash lengthwise and scoop out seeds.
- In a skillet over medium heat, cook turkey, onion, and celery 5 minutes until turkey is no longer pink. Drain excess liquid.
- Return turkey mixture to pan and stir in chickpeas, broth, and seasoning. Divide mixture between squash halves.
- In a small bowl, combine panko and Parmesan. Sprinkle on top.
- Place stuffed squash cut-side up on a baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes until squash is tender.
The bottom line
Buttercup squash is packed with nutrition while still being low in calories, making it a great choice if you are monitoring your calorie intake for weight loss.
Its fiber and water content helps keep you full, and it provides an array of important vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
While moderate portions are still important, buttercup squash can be enjoyed as part of a balanced weight loss diet. Try roasting, mashing, stuffing, or blending buttercup squash to boost the nutrition in your meals.
Pair buttercup squash with lean proteins, whole grains, healthy fats, and other non-starchy vegetables for a well-rounded diet that supports your weight loss goals while keeping you satisfied.