Spaghetti Squash vs. Pasta

Spaghetti squash has become a popular substitute for pasta in certain dishes. This is because the texture and appearance of its flesh, when cooked, is similar to thin strands of spaghetti. This versatile winter squash can be incorporated into anything from a simple side dish to a main dish for a delicious vegetarian meal. So, how exactly does spaghetti squash compare to regular pasta?

SQUASHING THOSE CARBS: Whether you love ‘em or hate ‘em, it is a good thing to have an idea of how many carbohydrates are on your plate and in your typical daily intake. Spaghetti squash happens to be very low in carbs, with only 10 grams in one cup. On the other hand, real spaghetti has about 43 grams of carbohydrate in one cup. This “pasta” is also low in calories, with only 42 calories in one cup cooked, compared to about 220 calories in one cup of regular spaghetti. When you substitute spaghetti squash for pasta, you can save around 170 calories and 30 grams of carbs in a one cup serving! It is important to remember that carbs are the primary source of energy for the body, so we should not be afraid to incorporate them into our diet. However, for those who have diabetes or who want to have better control over their carbohydrate intake and blood sugar levels, this can be a great substitute.

Spaghetti squash has similar amounts of fiber as compared to regular pasta. There are 2.2 grams of fiber in one cup of spaghetti squash, and 2.5 grams in one cup of regular spaghetti. On the other hand, whole wheat spaghetti has about 8 grams of fiber.

While one cup of spaghetti squash has only 1 gram of protein, the same amount of white pasta has around 7 grams of protein, and the same amount of whole wheat pasta has around 9 grams of protein. However, spaghetti squash is a good source of vitamin C, manganese, potassium, and B vitamins. This veggie contains important antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin as well. Finally, it is naturally gluten-free!

The Verdict: If the goals are to lower carbohydrate and calorie intake, spaghetti squash takes the win! This is especially important for those who have diabetes or want to lose weight. Spaghetti squash’s versatile and filling nature definitely makes it a worthy substitute. Overall, spaghetti squash is a lower carbohydrate and more nutrient dense version of traditional pasta dishes. Spaghetti squash is also a great gluten-free substitute for those who have allergies or intolerances to gluten. However, eating a higher carbohydrate food like spaghetti occasionally is okay too – especially when you choose a whole grain variety that contains high amounts of fiber. These slow-digesting carbohydrates will keep you feeling fuller for longer, are great for digestive health, and will help to control blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Tip: Don’t forget about all of the other great and healthy forms of pasta! Barley, quinoa, sprouted grain, chickpea, black bean, spinach, buckwheat, rice, and shirataki, just to name a few!

Also, check out this recipe for an idea on to use spaghetti squash today.

Laura Reynebeau – UWGB Dietetic Intern