Is Yellow Squash Good for Weight Loss? Tips and Health Benefits

/ / Is Yellow Squash Good for Weight Loss? Tips and Health Benefits

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Similar to zucchini, yellow squash is a variety of summer squash that is native to American gardens. Typically, you’ll find two types of yellow squash in the market — one with a straight neck and the other with a curved neck. Both types are a great addition to your diet. Since zucchini is often associated with weight loss, people start to wonder whether yellow squash is good for weight loss too. I got curious as well and have done my fair share of research. Here’s what I found.

Is yellow squash good for weight loss? Yellow squash is a great weight-loss food since it is low in calories, loaded with fiber, and can make people feel full much longer. However, yellow squash will not result in weight loss if people consume it without a proper diet strategy.

If you wish to include yellow squash in your diet plan, then you need to ponder upon a few considerations (more on this below).

Is yellow squash good for weight loss?

Yellow squash has a variety of types, including the infamous crookneck and straight neck.

Interesting fact: Although yellow squash is biologically categorized as fruit, it’s considered a vegetable in the nutrition world due to its nutritional profile.

Yellow squash is a great food choice if you want to shed off some pounds.

But what makes them an amazing weight loss food anyway?

Well, there are several reasons that determine whether a food is a good choice for weight loss.

One of the main factors is its satiety value, which is the feeling of fullness that persists after consumption relative to the calorie content.

The calorie to satiety ratio is measured on a scale known as the satiety index.

Generally, foods with a high satiety index tend to be incredibly filling, thereby preventing you from overeating.

Apart from measuring the food’s ability to make you feel full, the satiety index is also used to measure the food’s capability to reduce your hunger and decrease your overall calorie intake per day.

According to studies, foods that can make you feel full usually have the following characteristics:

  • High volume: Studies published in the American Journal of Nutrition found that the volume of food you eat has a strong impact on satiety. Foods containing plenty of water or air have more volume without additional calories. In fact, eating foods containing a high amount of water is more effective in reducing subsequent energy consumption than drinking water with food.
  • Rich in protein: A critical review released in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition showed that protein is more filling than fat and carbohydrates. So when you eat foods with a high amount of protein, you feel full much longer which, in turn, reduces your overall calorie intake throughout the day.
  • Contain a high amount of fiber: High-fiber foods help add bulk to your meal and increase your satiety. They also slow down the foods’ movement in your digestive tract, thereby helping you feel fuller much longer. One review article published in Obesity Reviews found that eating more dietary fiber help decrease appetite by 5%, reduce long-term energy consumption by 2.6%, and cut down body weight by 1.3%
  • Has low energy density: The energy density is the number of calories in one gram of food. Eating foods with low energy density means that you can have a greater food volume but with relatively low amounts of calories. Numerous studies showed that consuming foods with low energy density makes you consume fewer calories overall and help maintain healthy body weight.

Food and weight loss tip: One study issued in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that consuming a large portion of low energy-dense food before a meal helps enhance satiety and lower overall calorie intake, contributing to an effective weight management strategy.

So, where does the yellow squash fit? What makes it good for weight loss?

Amazingly, yellow squash meets three of the above qualities. Apart from having low calories, yellow squash is packed with fiber, have a low energy density, and contain over 95% water.

According to USDA Food Data Central, one medium raw yellow squash (about 196 grams) contains about:

  • 185 grams of water
  • 31.4 kcal of energy; and
  • 2.16 grams of total dietary fiber (~7.7% Daily Value)
  • 0.37 grams of total fat

So eating yellow squash not only allows you to increase the volume of your meals without increasing the calories but also helps you control hunger and consume less calories overall.

What’s more, yellow squash consists of a decent amount of protein. One medium raw yellow squash has around 2.37 grams of protein, which provides about 4.7% DV.

They’re also highly nutritious and loaded with all kinds of beneficial nutrients and plant substances which help improve your overall health. (more on this below)

This combination of nutrients makes yellow squash an ideal food to add in your diet if you want to lose weight.

Food tip: Food that provides around 5% DV or less of a particular nutrient in one serving is considered low in that individual nutrient.

Is yellow squash good for you? Yellow squash benefits you probably didn’t know about

Aside from being an excellent food for weight loss, as a member of the summer squash, yellow squash varieties also offer plenty of health benefits.

They are loaded with the following beneficial nutrients:

  • Vitamin A: A group of fat-soluble substances that protects your eyes from age-related macular degeneration and night blindness, promote bone health, potentially decrease the risk of acne, and support your body’s immune system.
  • Vitamin B6: Also known as pyridoxine, this vitamin is a water-soluble compound that helps boost brain performance, enhance mood and lower risk of depression, and may protect you from air pollution.
  • Vitamin C: An essential vitamin and powerful antioxidant that helps keep your gum healthy, boost immunity, reduce the risk of chronic diseases, lower blood pressure, reduce risk of heart disease, decrease bad cholesterol and triglycerides, protects memory and thinking, and improves iron absorption. It also helps collagen to hold tissues, muscles, and bones together.
  • Folate: Also known as folic acid and vitamin B9, folate is one of the vitamin B required to synthesize blood cells, convert carbs into energy, and produce RNA and DNA. Sufficient folic acid consumption is highly important during the rapid growth phase, such as during pregnancy and infancy. It helps prevent neural tube defects in infants, prevent cancer, and lower the risk of depression.
  • Magnesium: A mineral that plays a vital role in over 600 biochemical reactions in the body, including energy conversion, protein synthesis, gene maintenance, muscle movements, and regulation of the nervous system. It may also combat depression, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stress, and anxiety.
  • Manganese: An essential nutrient that has potent antioxidant effects and helps enhance your bone strength,  regulate blood sugar, boost brain function, and improve your body’s capability to metabolize protein, carbs, cholesterol, and several vitamins, such as choline.
  • Phosphorus: This essential mineral keeps your bones and teeth strong and healthy, helps in muscle contraction, supports muscle recovery, promotes healthy nerve conduction, produces genetic building blocks, and manages the body’s storage and usage of energy.
  • Potassium: This mineral plays a critical role in nerve function, muscle and heart health, and fluid and mineral balance. One medium yellow squash provides more potassium than one large banana.
  • Riboflavin: Also known as vitamin B2, this water-soluble vitamin is one of the eight B vitamins which is essential for your health. They help combat migraines, protect eyes, reduce the risk of cataracts, lower homocysteine levels, support iron handling, and promote pregnancy health.

Here’s the nutritional profile of a medium (196 grams), raw yellow squash as reported by the Food Data Central of USDA:

Nutrient

Amount

Water

185 g

Energy

31.4 kcal

Protein

2.37 g

Total Fat

0.35 g

Total Dietary Fiber

2.16 g

Vitamin A

19.6 µg

Vitamin B6

0.43 g

Vitamin C

33.3 mg

Folate

56.8 µg

Calcium

29.4 mg

Magnesium

33.3 mg

Phosphorus

74.5 mg

Potassium

514 mg

Sodium

3.92 mg

Riboflavin

0.28 mg

Iron

0.69 mg

Zinc

0.57 mg

How to eat yellow squash for weight loss the right way? Preparation and serving tips

Here’s the thing.

Consuming any type of weight-loss food will not help you burn fats or lose weight if you do not have a proper weight loss plan in mind.

And no matter how powerful a weight-loss food might be, they still contain some calories and can put you at risk of weight gain if you exceed your recommended calorie intake per day.

So the key is to eat much less calories than your body uses so that your body will be forced to burn the remaining calories from the stored energy inside your body, and eventually lead to weight loss.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends implementing food substitution when using fruits and vegetables for weight loss.

So how should you eat yellow squash safely to lose weight effectively?

The best way to accomplish your weight loss goals with yellow squash is by substituting your favorite high-calorie food with the low-calorie and fulfilling yellow squash.

Since yellow squash is loaded with water and fiber, it will add volume to your meal and allow you to eat the same quantity as your previous food choice but with lower calories.

For instance, substitute yellow squash for an egg, cheese, or meat in your breakfast or lunch. You can also try adding one cup of sliced yellow squash while removing one cup of pasta or rice in your favorite dish.

Still, if you load your yellow squash dish with high-calorie heavy spreads or sauces, chances are, you won’t be losing much weight.

No matter how you choose to eat the yellow squash, remember to count your calorie intake for the day and make sure you never exceed your recommended daily calorie intake. Keeping your calories count low per day would help you lose fat faster.

Tips for preparing and serving yellow squash

Unlike winter squash where you need to remove the seeds, you can eat yellow squash along with their thin skin and soft seeds, either raw or cooked.

Before you cook or eat them, be sure to wash them clean under running water and trim both ends.

Eating yellow squash without peeling their skin is recommended to get the most nutrients.

For raw yellow squash, you can try adding them to salads or pair them up with other veggies and hummus, low-fat salsa or dressing.

Since yellow squash has a mild flavor and somewhat creamy texture when cooked, you can cook them in multiple ways; you can boil them, steam them, stir fry them, saute them, grill them, roast them, bake them, or even use them as the main ingredient in casseroles.

However, it is best to avoid boiling since yellow squash tends to become watery and lose much of their texture and flavor when boiled.

If you still want to boil them, make sure to only use a little amount of water as possible and cook them until just tender.

You can savor their color and texture by braising them lightly to create a smothered dish with seasoning.

You can also spiralize them and use them as a healthy alternative to pasta. You can easily bulk up this light, fresh, and healthy dish with additional vegetables or shrimp.

The recommended seasoning for yellow squash includes basil, dill, and oregano.

Yellow squash has pretty much the same flavor as zucchini, so you can mix them with green squashes for a fascinating medley of colors.

How can you tell if yellow squash is bad?

Knowing if a vegetable has gone bad can be challenging sometimes. The vegetables may look fresh but taste somewhat mealy.

So, how can you tell if yellow squash is bad?

You can tell that summer squash, including yellow squash, has gone bad when they begin to show the following signs:

  • Skin becomes dull and lifeless
  • The body feels soft and mushy
  • Black spots, rotten marks, or decay start to appear on the skin
  • Skin becomes shriveled and wrinkled
  • Mired with thick, milky-white liquid

If the spoiled or rotten area is shallow, you can just cut off the damaged area and use the remaining squash as soon as possible.

However, if you see milky white liquid forming on their skin, you should throw them out at once.

To ensure you get a fresh and most flavorful yellow squash, be sure to pick the small, firm, and plump ones with bright colors. Also, its skin should be smooth and glossy without blemishes.

Yellow squash storage tips

Once harvested, the yellow squash will only last for a brief period. So you need to use them as quickly as possible, within one week to ten days.

North Carolina Department of Public Instruction recommends the following storage tips for yellow squash:

  • Store yellow squash quickly in the refrigerator at around 45 ℉ to 50 ℉ under 85%  to 95% relative humidity. Be sure they are well-ventilated.
  • Avoid storing them together with foods that release ethylene gas, such as pears, apples, avocadoes, and tomatoes.
  • Never wash yellow squash until you’re ready to use them.

You can store raw yellow squash on the counter for about 3 to 5 days and up to one week in the refrigerator. On the other hand, cooked squash can be stored for up to 2 days in the refrigerator.

Other excellent vegetables for weight loss

Not surprisingly, yellow squash is not the only vegetable that can help you lose weight.

Here is the list of some weight-loss vegetables you can try:

  • Leafy greens: Leafy greens like spinach, collards, and kale have low carbs and calories and are packed with fiber. They’re also highly nutritious with plenty of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, such as calcium, which has been shown to help reduce weight or fat mass.
  • Cruciferous veggies: Similar to leafy greens, vegetables in the cruciferous family, such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and cabbage are fiber-rich and have low-energy density. Plus, their protein content is higher than most vegetables. They may even prevent cancer.
  • Beans and legumes: Although beans, such as kidney beans and chickpeas, are botanically categorized as legumes, they’re often classified as vegetables. They are rich in protein and fiber, both of which help increase satiety.
  • Mushrooms: Even though mushrooms are actually fungi, for cooking purposes, they’re often lumped into the vegetable category. They are fiber-rich, fat and cholesterol-free, have low calorie, and plenty of vitamins and minerals. A recent study on satiety released in the journal of Appetite found that eating a meal rich in mushrooms during breakfast may help reduce hunger and increase the feeling of fullness. Some studies even go as far as claiming mushrooms to be more satiating than meat.
  • Asparagus: Asparagus is low-fat, low-calorie, water-rich, and is packed with fiber. Some studies suggest that asparagus may help lower blood pressure.
  • Cucumbers: Cucumbers have low calories and a high amount of water. Some research found that cucumbers may help lower blood sugar.

Conclusion

Yellow squash is an excellent food choice if you want to lose weight.

Still, no matter how excellent yellow squash is as a weight-loss food, you won’t be able to lose weight by eating it at whims without any regard to your overall diet.

You need to be mindful of your daily calorie intake and portion sizes.

The best way to add yellow squash in your diet is by using them as a replacement for your favorite high-calorie food.

Along with a nutritious, balanced diet and regular exercise, yellow squash should pave your way to successful weight loss and healthier life.

Which squash is healthiest?

Winter squash tends to be more nutritious than the summer varieties as they contain more beta-carotene and B-vitamins. Amongst the winter varieties, acorn squash are more nutrient-dense; it provides more folic acid and minerals like calcium, potassium, and magnesium than butternut.

Is drinking squash good for weight loss?

Drinking squash smoothie can help you lose weight as it has low calories and fiber-rich. However, you can easily go overboard with fruit-packed blends and stack up the sugar and calories. Thus, proper portion control is critical for effective weight loss.

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