Acorn squash, is a member of winter squash which come from Cucurbitaceae family. Same family with cucumber and melon. Acorn squash has almost same characteristic with other types of winter squash such as butternut, pumpkin, kobucha and etc. Acorn squash has hard shell and it makes this fruit difficult to pierce. This hard skin is also make them possible to store in long period from 1 to six months. People love their mild sweet flesh and smooth texture.
Varieties of acorn squash
There are some varieties of acorn squash that has been cultivated nowadays. The most common variety is the dark green color acorn that has a single splotch of orange on the side of fruit or on top. Another variety of acorn squash is the golden acorn which has glowing yellow color and some other variety come in different multi color. One acorn squashes normally has weigh one to two pounds and usually between four and seven inches long.
Actually acorn squash is one of cultivated plant which is very easy to grow. The seeds are available and can grow in warm soil. After 85 days growth after planting , acorn squash will be ready to harvested.
Winter squash has been consumed for more than 10.000 years. In early time, squash consumed as wild plan. This wild squash was found in America especially in the area between Guatemala and Mexico. Later people tried to cultivated the squash from seed but it didn’t give good result.
It is mentioned in native American Indian tribe myth that squash is one of plant which planted by Iroquois along with maize (corn) and beans. These three plants called as Three sister.
The early cultivation of squash just produced fruit with bitter and palatable flesh. As time passed, native Americans have developed better cultivation throughout America and the fruit yet has sweeter taste and many new varieties came up. The spreading of squash began when Christopher Columbus bought squash to Europe and the Portuguese and Spanish explorers introduced the squash cultivation worldwide. Nowadays, China, Japan, Romania, Turkey, Italy, Egypt, and Argentina are countries which produce most squash. It is also noted that Spanish Explorer Francisco Pizarro brought squash to Europe in early 16th century. At that time many Europeans referred to squash as “melons.”
Acorn squash or Cucurbita pepo var. turbinata also known as pepper squash or sometimes called Des Moines Squash. People in Eastern countries such as Philippines do not only consumed the flesh but they also the edible trumpet flowers that grow from the squash plant. Just like other varieties of squash, Acorn squash can be served as in many ways such as sauted, baked, steamed, stuffed, or even mixed with chicken, meat or other vegetable.
Nutrition facts of Acorn Squash
Acorn squash mostly contains high carbohydrates and it is also contain other importants nutrients that useful for keeping healthy body. Below is the nutrition facts in one single serving of acorn squash :
Amount Per 1 cup, cubes (140 g)
Calories 56 % Daily Value*
Total Fat 0.1 g 0%
Saturated fat 0 g 0%
Polyunsaturated fat 0.1 g
Monounsaturated fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Sodium 4 mg 0%
Potassium 486 mg 13%
Total Carbohydrate 15 g 5%
Dietary fiber 2.1 g 8%
Protein 1.1 g 2%
Vitamin A 10% Vitamin C 25%
Calcium 4% Iron 5%
Vitamin D 0% Vitamin B-6 10%
Vitamin B-12 0% Magnesium 11%
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Health benefits of Acorn squash
Sometime most people don’t like to purchase and consume acorn squash because they haven’t came to know the benefits. Get to know the list of these benefits of acorn squash and may it can change your mind :
1. Boost Immune System
According to the nutrition facts, acorn squash is excellent source of Vitamin C. Vitamin C which also known as Ascorbic acid can stimulate immune system function by inducing the production of white blood cells. White blood cells is important to fight against pathogen and infection inside body. Consuming Vitamin C is like giving more power to the soldiers inside body which can make them defeat the bad guy “pathogen’ easier and faster
2. Regenerate body’s development
The vitamin C contained in acorn squash is not only boost the immune system, it is also an important part during the development of body’s cells and tissues especially blood vessels, muscle tissue, skin, teeth, and other organs. People who consume adequate amount of vitamin C per day, has lower risk to experience scurvy and infection.
3. Promote Healthy Vision
High levels quantities of Vitamin A found in acorn squash in the form of beta-carotene is a great antioxidant. It has been proved that beta carotene can reduce oxidative stress especially in the eyes. It also can prevent the eyes from cataracts development and macular with proper and regular intake
4. Keeping healthy skin
The antioxidant component in acorn squash especially the vitamin A and C play an important role in maintaining healthy skin. The antioxidant compounds in acorn squash can protect the skin from bad effect of free radicals. They also promote skin regeneration and help to eliminate scar, fasten wound healing and even act as anti-aging agent who keep skin from wrinkles. There is some new trend nowadays to use some varieties of winter squash including acorn squash as beauty treatment. The blended fruit of acorn can be used as fask mask to moisturize and keeping supple skin.
5. Lowering blood pressure
Just like most varieties of winter squash, acorn squash contain high level of potassium which can lowering blood pressure and maintain healthy vessel function. Potassium known as vasodilator, which means it can relax or enlarge the artery and blood vessel which resulting in lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stress and heart stroke. Each 1 cup serving of acorn squash contains 26 % the recommended daily allowance of potassium.
6. Balancing body fluid
Potassium can help to regulate the fluid balance in the body more spesifically the cells and tissues. A balance fluid inside body will boost metabolic efficiency and keep the enzyme function well. The magnesium which contain in acorn squash also play role to regulates the absorbption of potassium, so the high amount of magnesium can strengthen these effects to the body.
7. Prevent cancer
Here comes the most favorite benefits that served by most plant, anti-cancer. Fortunately, acorn squash contains very high levels of antioxidant (Vitamin C and A ) These antioxidant copmponents are effective to neutralize the effects of free radicals and prevent the cell from mutation. Acorn squash can prevent us from many types of cancer from mouth to colon cancer.
8. Prevent cognitive disease
Along with fighting various types of cancer, antioxidants found in acorn squas also can prevent another serious problem which caused by oxidative stress as an effect of free radicals such as cognitive disorders.
9. Promotes healthy digestion
Dietary fiber which found in acorn squash can improve the health of GI tract. Acorn squash contain 9 grams of fiber in one serving, which can fulfil 1/3 daily requirement intake . Fiber help to regulate digestion system by adding bulk to bowel movements. This effect may lead to healthier gut and intestine also eliminates constipation and diarrhea
10. Lowering blood sugar level and prevent diabetes
Acorn squash can be really useful for diabetes patient because it can maintain stable glucose level. The dietary fiber in acorn squash served this function and prevent the development of diabetes especially type 2. Some studies in animal reported that squash extract which was given to mice has significant effect in lowering blood sugar and regulate insulin. Some Vitamin B complex also play important role and acts as radar which give signals to brain of the increasing level of blood glucose, this condition may lead to insulin secretion.
11. Get rid of cholesterol
Dietary fiber established it function in eliminating excess cholesterol from the body. Cholesterol is one of culprit inside the body. It is the one who promotes thickening of blood vessels or atherosclerosis which can cause mild to severe cardiovascular conditions such as strokes and heart attacks.
Most of fiber contained in acorn squash’s fiber belong to soluble fiber. According to studies, soluable fiber fiber helps reduce cholesterol. An article published in “Nutrition Reviews” journal in 2009, concluded that a diet in high – fiber food like acorn squash can help prevent stroke, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and gastrointestinal disorders. unique substances in the acorn squash called Cucurbita can block the formation of cholesterol in human cells by inhibit the work of an enzyme called HMG-CoA reductase
12. Keeping strong bones
Acorn Squash notoriously high in various minerals including calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, and copper. Those minerals are parts of developing new bones cells and as well as maintaining the strong structure of bones. Consuming acorn squash regularly can help the body to fulfil mineral intakes and also prevent osteoporosis
13. Protect from inflammation
Some researches have been proved that winter squash including acorn squash contains anti-inflammation properties. The molecule of anti-inflammatory is called cucurbitacins. Cucurbitacins are glycoside molecules which usually found in plant especially in squash melon family (Cucurbitaceae). It is considered as natural plant defense mechanism toward pathogen or predators. Cucurbitacins have potential toxic effect to some animals and microorganisms. This also make sense why acorn squash and other variant of winter squash are effective as anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and thus can reduce inflammation.
14. Prevent anemia
Acorn squash contain many important mineral such as iron and copper. Iron is a mineral that play important role in oxygen transportation from the lungs to the whole the body. It also helps to keep healthy red blood cells and prevent anemia.
15. Reduce the risk of heart disease
Acorn squash contain magnesium which has been proved to reduce the risk of heart diseases. Along with potassium, it can reduce the high blood pressure that can cause heart attack and work best with vitamin C to get rid the cholesterol. These nutrients also can prevent development of atherosclerosis or oxidized cholesterol inside blood vessels wall.
16. Maintain healthy prostate
Acorn squash plays role in reduce and alleviate the symptoms of a disease called benign prostatic hypertrophy or BPH. The antioxidants which contained in acorn squash can reduce the risk and symptoms of this disease. BPH is characterized by the enlarge of prostate gland that can causes difficulties in urinary and sexual functions.
17. Reduce symptoms of Pre – Menstrual syndrome
Acorn squash contain a number of manganese. A recent study has proved that women who consumed high amounts of manganese along their meals suffered less mood swings and cramps during menstruation period compared to others.
18. Promotes hair growth
Another study of beta-carotene function has found that vitamin A is vital to maintain and forming new hair cells. Beta – carotene which later will be converted to vitamin A can prevent hair breakage and promotes hair growth resulting a beauty, thick hair.
Health risk of acorn squash
Acorn squash just like other winter squash is not a allergenic food. There is no study repoterted that acorn squash contain measurable amounts of oxalates or purines which can cause problem to health. It is also not included in Environmental Working Group’s 2010 list report “Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides” as one of the foods that contain most pesticide residues.
Acorn squash contains very high amount of carbohydrates, and high calories for sure. It is not recommended to consume more acorn squash to people who are having low-carb diets.
How to purchase and store acorn squash
When you gonna purchase acorn squash in market, better read these tips before :
- When purchasing the acorn squash choose firm fruit and also heavy as their size and it should has dull, not glossy, rinds.
- The skin of fresh acorn squash should be not be dull and not glossy.
- Fresh squash has hard rind and the soft one indicates that squash is contain more water and lack of flavor.
- Avoid purchasing moldy fruits with decay sign. Acorn squash is usually easy to decay especially with exposure of direct sunlight and water
- Acorn squash can be kept in longer time rather that summer squash. It can be kept between one to six months
- Keep away from direct exposure of light and don’t keep it in extreme heat or cold
- There is range of ideal temperature for storing acorn squash is between 10-15°C
- When it has been cut, don’t forget to cover the pieces of acorn squash in plastic wrap or in plastic container.
- Once it cut and store it can be keep 1 – 2 days in refrigerator
Tips of preparing acorn squash before cook
To get the maximum benefits of acorn squash, follow these tips when you want to prepare and cooking acorn squash as your favorite dish :
- Wash acorn squash under cold running water before cutting and cooking process
- Acorn squash require peeling before cook. Just cut it before peeling and use potato peeler to peel it
- Slice the acorn squash into 1-inch slices or 1-inch cubes. This is the best size of cutting and for steaming.
- If you are going to bake your squash you don’t have to peel the skin. Cut the ends of squash , cut the acorn in half lengthwise down the middle, scoop out the seeds from the fruit then bake it
- You can also peel the squash after cook it easily with a knife or fork and eat it with your desired size
- Seeds from acorn squash can be a healthy and excelent snack food and almost same way to prepare as pumpkin seed
- Roasting seed and flesh of acorn squash at low temperature can minimize damage of nutrition and the oil inside seeds.
- Acorn squash seeds contain linoleic acid and oleic acid and composed 75% of the fat found in the seeds.
- After Cooking process and serving of acorn squash, if you still have leftlover, it can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4 to 5 days
Cooking acorn squash with healthy ways
There are some ways to enjoy the benefits of acorn squash. here are some tips to cook acorn squash and get both benefits and tasty meal
- To maximize the benefits of vitamin C just cut it only before cooking.
- Steam or bake the squash instead of boiling it to keep vitamin C from being lost in the cooking water.
- The boiling process can remove the vitamin C contain in acorn squash.
- Use a low-fat cooking method to get the best benefits of acorn squash, use a little olive oil to saute acorn squash
- According to Mark Bittman, author of “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. The best way to cook acorn squash in water is only when we use acorn squash as ingredients of soup, since the vitamins of vegetable during the cooking process will be retained in soup broth.
- Acorn squash can be baked inside oven or microwave
- If you want to enjoy it as savory dish, you can stuff it with rice, vegetable, chicken or meat.
- Acorn squash will be tasty as sweeter dish. Adding some fruit syrup while baking can enhance the flavor
- You can roast the seed in 160-170°F (about 75°C) temperatures in the oven for 15-20 minutes
Acorn Squash Face mask
Acorn squash is one of best skin rejuvenators which contains many antioxidant and nutrients to keep healthy and glowing supple skin. Here acorn squash mask recipe that you can try to make at home.
- Make paste by mixed 1 cup of mashed up acorn squash with ½ a cup of honey and ¼ cup of ground oats
- Apply this mask to face and leave it for 20 minutes
- Rinse it with lukewarm water and dry it
Baked Acorn Squash with palm sugar
Wanna enjoy sweet and tender acorn squash ? you can try this recipe
What you need :
- 1 or half acorn squash
- 1 tablespoon margarine or butter
- 1 tablespoon liquid palm sugar ( you can replace palm sugar syrup with other such as mapple syrup)
How to make :
- cut the acorn squash into two parts of bowl shape
- scoop out the seed
- put squash on a baking pan which has been poured by some water before
- Water in baking pan will keep it moist and let the squash to caramelized
- put butter and palm syrup on squash
- baked the squash in oven or microwave with 400 degrees F temperatures for about 20 minutes
- Your sweet acorn squash is ready to served
Those are all the benefits of acorn squash that you just realized and the guideline how to consume it . Start to purchase and add acorn squash in your meal to enjoy more delicate dish. Pumpkin maybe so yesterday so why not try this one?