The health benefits of butternut squash

Being rich in fibre, vitamins and minerals, this bright orange veg is health-giving in many ways. Learn how and discover delicious butternut squash recipes.

A butternut squash cut in half with the seeds scooped out on a chopping board

What is butternut squash?

Butternut squash is a type of winter squash that grows on a vine. Technically, it's classed as a fruit but it is treated as a vegetable when it comes to cooking. It is quite long and oval in shape with a bell-bottom, with yellow-orange, hard outer skin covering the inner beautiful orange flesh and seeds. Often only the flesh is eaten, while the skin, stalk and seeds are discarded.

Nutritional benefits of butternut squash

The butternut squash is a great source of fibre, as well as vitamins including A, C, E and B vitamins along with minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and zinc. Three tablespoons of cooked butternut squash counts as one of your five-a-day.

Take a look at our printable infographic to discover what counts as 5-a-day.

Is butternut squash good for eye health?

Research has shown that certain phytonutrients, such as zeaxanthin and lutein, may help to protect eye health, and butternut squash contains both of these carotenoids. Vitamin A also plays a role in eye health and healthy cell renewal, and diets that are high in fruit and vegetables, including butternut squash, are rich in antioxidants which appear to offer eye protection benefits.

Can butternut squash help to support the immune system?

Eating a healthy, balanced diet can go a long way towards supporting your body's natural defences, although there's no guarantee that you won't succumb to a cold. Beta-carotene, found in butternut squash, helps to support the natural function of the immune system, along with vitamin A which can help to prevent infections.

Read more about how to prevent a cold.

A bowl of quinoa stew with squash, prunes and pomegranate seeds

Is butternut squash good for bone health?

There is some evidence to suggest that a varied diet rich in fruit and vegetables can help reduce the risk of osteoporosis. A 2016 study found that diets high in vegetables, as well as those containing beta-carotene, vitamin C, zinc and sodium were positively associated with healthy bone mass in postmenopausal women. All of these are found in butternut squash making it a bone-loving vegetable to add to your diet.

Read more about osteoporosis and the best foods for bone health

Is butternut squash good for digestion?

Just 100g of butternut squash contains around 3g of fibre, which is 10% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of fibre for adults. According to the NHS, most of us don’t eat enough fibre, getting around just 18g a day. There is strong evidence that fibre is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, bowel cancer and type 2 diabetes, but that it can also help digestion and prevent constipation.

Learn more about why we need to eat fibre and discover recipes and tips for good digestive health.

Healthy butternut squash recipes

Quinoa stew with squash, prunes & pomegranate
Butternut squash soup with crispy sage & apple croutons
Butternut squash pilaf
Butternut, chestnut & lentil cake
Red lentil & squash dhal
Dukkah-crusted squash wedges
More healthy pumpkin & squash recipes


This article was published on 4th December 2017.

Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.

All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

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