Is Spaghetti Squash Good for You?

Spaghetti squash is nutritious and good for your diet.
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Question: I'd like to buy spaghetti squash and use it instead of pasta, but I"m not sure what to do with it. Also, I think it's good for my diet, but I'm not sure. Can you tell me if spaghetti squash is good for a diet?

Answer: Spaghetti squash is a vegetable so sure, it's good for you. Although pasta can easily fit into a healthy diet, it's nice to have a little variety. It's also a good way to cut calories if you regularly eat pasta dishes.

So What Is Spaghetti Squash?

For those readers who haven't heard of it, spaghetti squash is a large, yellow variety of winter squash. But it's not like other winter squash because after the squash is cooked, the flesh can be raked out with a fork. Cooked spaghetti squash looks like long strands of pasta and has a mild flavor, so it works well in many dishes that call for cooked pasta. Spaghetti squash can also be served as a side dish with a little salt and pepper.

Spaghetti squash is nutritious and low in calories. One cup of cooked squash has around 40 calories, 10 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, and is an excellent source of calcium, potassium, magnesium, and niacin. For comparison, a cup of cooked spaghetti noodles has about 200 calories. Spaghetti squash is suitable for many special diets, including:

  • Dairy free
  • Gluten or wheat free
  • Low sodium
  • Vegan or vegetarian
  • Low fat
  • Low carb

Choosing and Preparing Spaghetti Squash

You can find spaghetti squash in the produce department of your local grocery store.

Look for squash that is firm with a hard rind. It should also feel heavy for their size. Avoid squash that has mold or feels soft and squishy.

Store the squash in a cool dry place for up to a month. The most common way to prepare your spaghetti squash is to bake it. Here's what you do:

  • Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Slice the squash in half length-wise and place both halves on a baking sheet, cut side down.
  • Bake the squash about 35 minutes, or until the flesh is cooked through. ​​
  • Let it cool for a few minutes, and then rake the flesh out with a fork. 
  • If you're in a hurry you can place your spaghetti squash halves in a microwave for about 10 minutes or so. 

Top the strands with tomato sauce with plenty of veggies and you'll have a filling meal that's low in calories. You can use cheese sauce, Alfredo sauce or any other pasta sauce, just remember they're higher in calories.

Or you can try one of these healthy recipes:

Sources:

United States Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28. "Basic Report:  11870, Squash, winter, spaghetti, cooked, boiled, drained, or baked, with salt." Accessed March 7, 2016. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/3532

United States Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28. "Basic Report: 20121, Pasta, cooked, enriched, without added salt." Accessed March 7, 2016. http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/6574

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