Adding acorn squash to your meal plan offers you some nutritional benefits, because this vegetable is packed with nutrients. In fact, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 recommend consuming 5 cups of starchy vegetables, such as acorn squash, each week and 2.5 cups of total vegetables daily when eating 2,000 calories per day.
A cup of baked acorn squash contains 115 calories, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database. If you flavor the squash with butter, margarine, or vegetable oil, the calorie content will increase. While not a high-calorie food, acorn squash does contain more calories than many other veggies -- with the exception of potatoes and legumes. For example, a cup of cherry tomatoes provides 54 calories, and 1 cup of cucumbers contains just 16 calories.
Carbohydrates and Fiber
Because acorn squash is a starchy vegetable, it's a rich source of carbohydrates and fiber. A cup of cooked acorn squash provides about 30 grams of carbohydrates, according to the USDA. Nine of these 30 grams of carbs are from dietary fiber. Many Americans get too little fiber in their diets, but fiber helps reduce your risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, gastrointestinal diseases, and obesity, according to a 2009 review in Nutrition Reviews. Authors of this review suggest consuming 28 grams of fiber daily when eating 2,000 calories per day.
Protein and Fat
Acorn squash is a low-fat food and contains a small amount of protein. One cup of cooked acorn squash provides just over 2 grams of protein, but less than 1 gram of dietary fat. However, topping acorn squash with walnuts or other nuts or seeds helps boost the protein and heart-healthy fat content of your dish.
Vitamins and Minerals
Acorn squash is loaded with vitamins and minerals, and is especially rich in potassium and vitamin A. This nutrient-rich vegetable is also a source of calcium, B vitamins, folate, vitamin C, phosphorous, magnesium, and iron, notes the USDA.
An experienced health, nutrition and fitness writer, Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian and holds a dietetics degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also has worked as a clinical dietitian and health educator in outpatient settings. Erin's work is published on popular health websites, such as TheNest.com and JillianMichaels.com.