9 Nutritional Benefits of Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is a vegetable that offers a broad range of essential nutrients.

Known scientifically as Cucurbita moschata, this popular squash is also versatile in the kitchen and has a pleasant taste.

This article lists nine nutritional benefits of butternut squash and explores its complete nutritional profile.

Two butternut squash halves on a wooden surface.

1) Butternut Squash Is Mineral-Rich

First of all, butternut squash has an excellent mineral profile, providing numerous essential minerals.

Among these minerals, the vegetable offers particularly high levels of magnesium, manganese, and potassium.

A 205-gram cup of cooked butternut squash provides more than 10% of the recommended daily value (% DV) of these minerals (1, 2):

  • Magnesium: 14% DV
  • Manganese: 15% DV
  • Potassium: 12% DV

Magnesium is important for the effective functioning of muscle, nerves, and the immune system (3).

The functions of manganese include protecting cells against damage from free radicals and maintaining a healthy immune system (4).

Potassium is an electrolyte with many important functions, and it plays a key role in blood pressure regulation. Since higher dietary intake of potassium decreases blood pressure, higher intakes can lower cardiovascular risk (5, 6).

A serving of butternut squash is a simple way to boost intake of each of these essential minerals.

Key Point: Butternut squash provides numerous essential minerals. It is especially high in magnesium, manganese, and potassium.

2) The Seeds of Butternut Squash Are Packed With Nutrients

Butternut squash contains large, flat oval-shaped seeds with a cream-like color.

While some people discard these seeds before eating the vegetable, they are actually edible. Moreover, butternut squash seeds are a source of numerous essential minerals.

For example, butternut squash seeds contain calcium, copper, iron, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc (7).

In a randomized controlled trial conducted in South Africa, researchers provided 100 grams of butternut squash seed paste to preschool children twice weekly over six months. At the end of the study, the children who received the butternut seed paste had significantly higher blood levels of iron and zinc than the control group (7).

Key Point: The seeds of butternut squash are a rich source of minerals. Research shows they can improve iron and zinc status.

3) A Good Source of Vitamin E

Vitamin E is typically found at high levels in nuts, seeds, and oils.

However, some vegetables can also be a good source.

Among vegetables with vitamin E content, butternut squash provides one of the highest concentrations.

A 205-gram cup serving of butternut squash offers 2.64 mg of vitamin E, equal to roughly 18% of the recommended daily value (1, 2).

Vitamin E is an essential vitamin with antioxidant properties, playing a key role in the immune system (8).

Key Point: Butternut squash is one of the best dietary sources of vitamin E.

4) Good for Digestive Health

Whole grains, legumes, and leafy greens are often first to mind when considering fiber-rich foods.

However, other fruit and vegetables can also provide significant amounts of fiber, and butternut squash is among them.

A 205-gram cup of cooked butternut squash contains 6.56 grams of fiber, which is 23% of the daily value (1, 2).

Fiber has various functions and benefits digestive health by:

  • Reducing the risk of constipation (9).
  • Promoting regular bowel movements (10).
  • Acting as a prebiotic by feeding beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract (11).
  • Binding and removing carcinogens (12).

Butternut squash contains both soluble and insoluble fiber (13).

Soluble fiber can help regulate blood sugar levels and has a cholesterol-lowering effect (14).

Key Point: Butternut squash is a good source of soluble and insoluble fiber. A sufficient fiber intake can have several benefits for the digestive system, blood sugar control, and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels.

5) High Carotenoid Content: Beneficial For Eye Health

Another benefit of butternut squash is its high concentration of carotenoids.

Carotenoids are phytonutrients with bioactive effects, and some can convert to vitamin A.

A 205-gram cup of cooked butternut squash provides 1140 mcg of retinol activity equivalent (RAE) vitamin A (1). This is equivalent to 127% of the FDA’s recommended daily value set at 900 mcg RAE (2).

Vitamin A is essential for proper immune function, growth and development, and eye health (15).

For instance, vitamin A deficiency can lead to conditions such as night blindness, loss of vision, and an increased risk of glaucoma (16, 17 ,18).

Both fresh and frozen butternut squash contain substantial levels of carotenoids, with beta-carotene, lutein, and violaxanthin being the main carotenoids present (19, 20).

Key Point: A serving of butternut squash provides more than 100% of the recommended daily value for vitamin A. The vegetable’s rich carotenoid content may benefit eye health.

6) Significant Vitamin C Content

The provision of vitamin C is another notable benefit that butternut squash offers.

A 205-gram cup serving of cooked butternut squash provides 33 mg of vitamin C, which is equal to 37% of the daily value (1, 2).

Vitamin is an essential vitamin with antioxidant properties. Among its numerous functions, it plays a crucial role in immune health, collagen production, and wound healing (21).

Key Point: Butternut squash is a significant source of vitamin C, providing 37% of the daily value in a cup serving.

7) Provides Numerous B Vitamins

As well as being an excellent source of vitamin C, butternut squash is also rich in B vitamins.

A 205-gram cup serving of cooked butternut squash provides 10% or more of the daily value for vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and folate (1, 2).

B vitamins play a crucial role in energy production by making energy from the food we eat (22, 23).

In the case of folate, it is particularly important for promoting a healthy pregnancy. A sufficient dietary intake of folate reduces the risk of birth defects and complications (24).

Key Point: Butternut squash provides a good amount of B vitamins, with the exception of vitamin B12.

8) Bioactive Saccharides

Butternut squash contains bioactive saccharides, which are types of complex carbohydrates with biological effects (25).

It is thought that bioactive saccharides may offer some potential health benefits (26, 27).

The bioactive saccharides found in butternut squash include:

  • Rhamnogalacturonan-I: Acts as a prebiotic, feeds beneficial gut bacteria, and may have anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects (25, 28).
  • Fructooligosaccharides: Have prebiotic effects and promote the growth of beneficial gut bacteria (29).
  • Arabinogalactan: This non-digestible carbohydrate acts as a prebiotic and may support a healthy immune system. A randomized controlled trial demonstrated that arabinogalactan supplementation increased the presence of beneficial gut bacteria over six weeks (30).
Key Point: Butternut squash provides several bioactive saccharides that support gut health and potentially offer additional health benefits.

9) Butternut Squash Is a Source of Numerous Phytochemicals

Butternut squash is rich in several phytochemicals, which are bioactive chemicals found in plants.

Some of these compounds are commonly known as polyphenols.

Research examining numerous samples of butternut squash found that it has a total polyphenol content of 476.6 mg per 100 grams (13).

The major phytonutrients present include gallic acid, quercetin, and rutin (31).

Research on polyphenols is constantly ongoing, and these compounds are believed to benefit human health (32, 33).

Systematic reviews and large observational studies indicate that polyphenol-rich dietary patterns are associated with a reduced long-term risk of chronic diseases and overall mortality (34, 35, 36).

Key Point: Butternut squash provides high quantities of several polyphenols.

The Nutritional Profile of Butternut Squash

Below are the complete nutritional values of butternut squash per 205-gram cup serving.

All nutritional data is sourced from the USDA’s FoodData Central database.

Percent daily values (% DV) have been calculated using the FDA’s recommended daily values, which are based on a 2000-calorie diet (1, 2).

NutrientAmount% DV
Calories82 kcal
Carbohydrates21.5 g7.8%
Fiber6.56 g23.4%
Sugars4.04 g
Fat0.18 g0.2%
Saturated0.04 g0.2%
Monounsaturated0.01 g
Polyunsaturated0.08 g
Omega-30.05 g
Omega-60.03 g
Protein1.84 g2.9%
Cholesterol0 mg0%
Table 1: Calorie and macronutrient composition of cooked butternut squash per 205-gram cup serving


VitaminAmount% DV
Folate, DFE39 mcg9.8%
Vitamin A, RAE1140 mcg126.7%
Vitamin B1 (thiamin)0.148 mg12.3%
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)0.035 mg2.7%
Vitamin B3 (niacin) 1.99 mg12.4%
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)0.736 mg14.7%
Vitamin B6 0.254 mg14.9%
Vitamin B120 mcg0%
Vitamin C31 mg34.4%
Vitamin D0 mcg0%
Vitamin E2.64 mg17.6%
Vitamin K2.05 mcg1.7%
Table 2: Vitamin composition of cooked butternut squash per 205-gram cup serving


MineralAmount% DV
Calcium84 mg6.5%
Copper0.133 mg14.8%
Iron1.23 mg6.8%
Magnesium59.4 mg14.1%
Manganese0.353 mg15.3%
Phosphorus55.4 mg4.4%
Potassium582 mg12.4%
Selenium1.02 mcg1.9%
Zinc0.266 mg2.4%
Table 3: Mineral composition of cooked butternut squash per 205-gram cup serving
Key Point: Butternut squash is primarily a source of carbohydrates, which include a high proportion of dietary fiber. It contains minimal levels of fat and protein, and offers a broad range of vitamins and minerals.

How To Use Butternut Squash

Like pumpkins and root vegetables, butternut squash offers versatility in cooking and can be used in various ways.

Here are some good ways to use this vegetable:

  • Curries: Cut butternut squash into small cube-shaped pieces and cook them in a curry until soft and tender. The cubes will absorb the flavor of the curry and add to its overall texture.
  • Fries: Cut butternut squash into fry-sized shapes, toss with a little olive oil and salt, and bake until crispy and slightly brown.
  • Pureed butternut squash: Boil cubed butternut squash until soft, and then puree it until it has a smooth and creamy texture. Add the puree to pasta dishes, pizzas, and risottos for a creamy texture.
  • Roasted butternut squash: Cut the vegetable in half, drizzle with olive oil and salt, and then roast it until tender.
  • Smoothies: The mildly sweet and creamy taste of butternut squash can work well in smoothies. Once cooked, blend it with berries and milk for a delicious and nutrient-rich smoothie.
  • Soups and stews: Blend butternut squash into soups or stews for a creamy texture and a mildly sweet flavor.

This list is not exhaustive, and there are numerous additional ways to use butternut squash.

Among these, it can be used as a side-dish either boiled or mashed and it can be added to various dishes, including casseroles, gratins, salads, and stir-fries.

Key Point: Butternut squash works well with a lot of different food combinations.

Final Thoughts

Butternut squash is a tasty, versatile vegetable that can add a lot of nutrients to the diet.

Nutritionally, it is particularly beneficial for its high content of fiber, magnesium, provitamin A carotenoids, vitamin C, and vitamin.


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  2. https://www.fda.gov/food/nutrition-facts-label/daily-value-nutrition-and-supplement-facts-labels
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  4. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Manganese-HealthProfessional/
  5. https://medlineplus.gov/potassium.html
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  15. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/
  16. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/vitamin-deficiency
  17. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK567744/
  18. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/35120728/
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  22. https://medlineplus.gov/bvitamins.html
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  33. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC10490098/
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  35. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24886552/
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Michael Joseph, MSc

Michael works as a nutrition educator in a community setting and holds a Master's Degree in Clinical Nutrition. He believes in providing reliable and objective nutritional information to allow informed decisions.