Acorn Squash Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Acorn Squash

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

With its signature dreidel-like shape, bright orange flesh, and ribbed green exterior, acorn squash (Cucurbita pepo) is not hard to recognize. Its excellent nutrition profile includes plenty of fiber and a wide array of micronutrients.

Although acorn squash belongs to the same species as summer squash like zucchini and crookneck, it’s commonly known as a winter squash. Many people especially enjoy its slightly nutty flavor and tender texture when cooked.

Acorn Squash Nutrition Facts

One cup of cubed acorn squash (205g) provides 115 calories, 2.3g of protein, 30g of carbohydrates, and 0.3g of fat. Acorn squash is a great source of magnesium, potassium, manganese, vitamin C, and iron. The following nutrition information has been provided by the USDA.

  • Calories: 115
  • Fat: 0.3g
  • Sodium: 8.2mg
  • Carbohydrates: 30g
  • Fiber: 9g
  • Sugars: No information provided
  • Protein: 2.3g
  • Magnesium: 88.2mg
  • Potassium: 896mg
  • Manganese: 0.5mg
  • Vitamin C: 22mg
  • Iron: 1.9mg

Carbs

Most of the calories in acorn squash come from carbohydrates. Nearly one-third of these carbs (9 grams) are provided in the form of fiber.

While the USDA doesn't offer a breakdown of the sugar or starch content of acorn squash, research suggests that these two forms of carbohydrate are responsible for between 50% and 70% of its water-free mass at the time it is harvested.

Fats

Acorn squash is naturally very low in fat, offering just 0.3 grams per 1-cup serving. A majority of this fat is polyunsaturated (0.12 grams).

Protein

Though acorn squash isn’t a major source of protein, it does provide a small amount of this macronutrient at 2.3 grams per cup. This is about 5% of the Daily Value (DV) for those following a 2,000 calorie diet.

Vitamins and Minerals

When it comes to micronutrients, acorn squash has plenty to offer. One cup provides a healthy dose of magnesium, potassium, manganese, vitamin C, and iron. Acorn squash also contains calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, selenium, and a few B vitamins.

Calories

There are 115 calories in a one-cup serving of cubed acorn squash. That makes it a bit higher than butternut squash, another winter squash that supplies around 82 calories per cubed cup.

Summary

Acorn squash is primarily a carbohydrate, though it does supply small amounts of protein too. This fiber-rich vegetable is full of many nutrients, with some of the most notable being magnesium, potassium, manganese, vitamin C, and iron.

Health Benefits

Packed with gut-friendly fiber and plenty of micronutrients, acorn squash provides numerous health benefits.

Reduces Inflammation 

With so many chronic diseases fueled by systemic inflammation, we’d all do well to get a good amount of antioxidants in our diet. These nutrients help reduce inflammation by cleaning cells of harmful waste.

Many micronutrients in acorn squash—like vitamin A, vitamin C, and manganese—have antioxidant properties that can contribute to this process.

Boosts Digestive Health

At 9 grams per cup, acorn squash is plenty high in fiber. A high-fiber diet contributes to digestive health since the gut microbiome requires this nutrient to create a healthy home for beneficial bacteria.

Plus, more fiber in the diet can prevent constipation. The addition of magnesium in acorn squash may help too since this nutrient is known for its laxative and stool softening properties.

Helps Maintain Healthy Eyesight

You may have heard that vitamin A supports eyesight, and acorn squash certainly packs a punch of this nutrient. Another carotenoid called lutein, which acorn squash also contains, has been linked to sharper eyes.

May Reduce Blood Pressure

Research shows that an increased potassium intake has a powerful effect on lowering blood pressure, especially in tandem with a low-sodium diet. Adding magnesium to the mix is even more effective for blood pressure reductions.

Supports the Immune System 

The vitamin C in acorn squash may not exactly be the cure for the common cold, but this nutrient has been shown to have beneficial effects on the immune system. Research indicates that getting adequate vitamin C helps prevent and treat both respiratory and systemic infections.

Getting your vitamin C through food, rather than taking it as a supplement, may increase its bioavailability since food also contains other important nutrients that can impact how much of this nutrient the body is able to use.

Allergies 

Though it’s not considered common to have an acorn squash allergy, it is possible. If you have symptoms such as hives, nausea, diarrhea, itchy skin, or shortness of breath after eating acorn squash, contact your doctor or allergist. They can determine whether you’re experiencing a food allergy.

Acorn squash can sometimes cause a syndrome called irritant contact dermatitis. This skin irritation may appear as an itchy burning rash, cracked skin, or a sensation of tight skin after touching the cut portion of this veggie.

Contact dermatitis is also known to happen with butternut squash. So, if you experience it with one squash, you may get it with the other. Wearing gloves can help prevent this type of skin irritation.

Adverse Effects

One cup of acorn squash supplies almost one-fifth of the recommended daily intake of potassium. If you are taking an ACE inhibitor, angiotensin receptor blocker, or a diuretic, these medications can impact your body's ability to excrete potassium, potentially resulting in dangerous health situations.

Talk to your doctor to discuss your medication's effects on potassium levels, and for a suggested potassium intake. A doctor or dietitian can also help you decide how acorn squash fits into a healthy eating plan based on your specific situation and needs.

Varieties

This vegetable from the Cucurbita pepo family is native to Central and North America and has been a staple of Native American cooking for generations.

You can identify most acorn squash by their dark green exterior. But other colors—both heirloom and newer varieties—do exist. The golden acorn squash, for example, is a newer breed that's bright yellow on the outside. Some squash may also be white or variegated with multiple colors. 

When It’s Best

Despite the fact that acorn squash is technically a close cousin to summer squash, it is typically harvested in the early fall through winter. This is when you’ll likely see fresh acorn squash making an appearance in your grocery store or at a local farmer's market.

Still, you can enjoy canned or frozen versions all year round. Commercially prepared canned and frozen acorn squash aren’t necessarily widely available, though, so you may have to stock up when the veggies are in season and preserve them yourself.

Storage and Food Safety 

The best home for acorn squash is a cool, dry place around 50 to 55 degrees. It can last up to a month when stored at this temperature. Though, it may last up to three months if the humidity in the storage area is reduced as well.

In the refrigerator, you’ll likely get about two weeks of freshness out of raw acorn squash. Once it is cooked, store the leftover squash in the refrigerator and use it within three to five days.

How to Prepare 

You’re not alone if you associate this squash with cold-weather comfort recipes. Acorn squash does especially well when baked, roasted, or boiled. It also makes a smooth addition to homemade soup, for which its sturdy and ridged outer shell can even function as a serving bowl.

Although acorn squash can be eaten raw, many people find it more palatable when cooked. Roasting is one popular preparation. Just cut the squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Place the cut side up on a pan and roast it at high heat (400 degrees Fahrenheit) until the flesh is soft, about 45 minutes.

Roasted acorn squash can be cut into chunks, pureed in soups, or even baked into desserts like pie or custard. Other cooking options like broiling, sautéing, grilling, and steaming all work well for acorn squash. Just be sure to peel away the vegetable’s skin before steaming.

If you’d like to swap acorn squash in place of another winter squash—like butternut, delicata, or kabocha—feel free. While its color and texture may vary slightly, these similar squashes are easily interchangeable.

Recipes

Healthy Acorn Squash Recipes to Try

Was this page helpful?
17 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Squash, winter, acorn, cooked, baked, without salt. Published April 01, 2019.

  2. Loy B. Maximizing yield and eating quality in winter squash — a grower's paradox. University of New Hampshire Department of Biological Sciences.

  3. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Interactive Nutrition Facts Label. Protein. Published March 2020.

  4. U.S. Department of Agriculture. FoodData Central. Squash, winter, butternut, cooked, baked, without salt. Published April 01, 2019.

  5. Goni I, Hernandez-Galiot A. Intake of nutrient and non-nutrient dietary antioxidants. Contribution of macromolecular antioxidant polyphenols in an elderly Mediterranean population. Nutrients. 2019;11(9):2165. doi:10.3390/nu11092165

  6. Myhrstad M, Tunsjo H, Charnock C, Telle-Hansen V. Dietary fiber, gut microbiota, and metabolic regulation—current status in human randomized trials. Nutrients. 2020;12(3):859. doi:10.3390/nu12030859

  7. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Magnesium: Fact sheet for health professionals. Updated August 11, 2021.

  8. Buscemi S, Corleo D, Di Pace F, Petroni M, Satriano A, Marchesini G. The effect of lutein on eye and extra-eye health. Nutrients. 2018;10(9):1321. doi:10.3390/nu10091321

  9. Gijsbers L, Dower JI, Mensink M, Siebelink E, Bakker SJ, Geleijnse JM. Effects of sodium and potassium supplementation on blood pressure and arterial stiffness: a fully controlled dietary intervention study. J Hum Hypertens. 2015;29(10):592-8. doi:10.1038/jhh.2015.3

  10. Houston M. The role of magnesium in hypertension and cardiovascular disease. J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2011;13(11):843-7. doi:10.1111/j.1751-7176.2011.00538x

  11. Carr A, Maggini S. Vitamin C and immune function. Nutrients. 2017;9(11):1211. doi:10.3390/nu9111211

  12. Carr A, Vissers M. Synthetic or food-derived vitamin C—Are they equally bioavailable? Nutrients. 2013;5(11):4284-4304. doi:10.2290/nu5114284

  13. Cleveland Clinic. Food problems: is it an allergy or intolerance. Updated May 05, 2015.

  14. Chatain C, Pin I, Pralong P, Jacquier J, Leccia M. Medicinal bioactivities and allergenic properties of pumpkin seeds: review upon a pediatric food anaphylaxis case report. Eur Ann Allergy Clin Immunol. 2017;49(6):244-251. doi:10.23822/EurAnnACI.1764-1489.19

  15. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Potassium: Fact sheet for health professionals. Updated March 26, 2021.

  16. Murphy H. Foods indigenous to the western hemisphere: squash. American Indian Health and Diet Project.

  17. Adeeko A, Yudelevich F, Raphael G, et al. Quality and storability of trellised greenhouse-grown, winter-harvested, new sweet acorn squash hybrids. Agronomy. 2020;10(9):1443. doi:10.3390/agronomy10091443