Where I live, fall is just around the corner. That means cooler weather, earlier sunsets and fresh fall produce in grocery stores. One food that really signals the start of fall is squash. How does this fall favorite fit in the FODMAP system? Truly, it depends.
Squash is not usually tested in FODMAP studies, so data is limited. At this point, it seems most squashes are low FODMAP in small servings of less than half a cup. Hubbard, buttercup and pattypan seem to be the best squash options for low FODMAPers, while butternut is more problematic.
This post contains all the data I could find on FODMAPs in different types of squash. I live in the United States, so there’s a definite bias towards squashes popular in the US. But honestly, I read research studies from all over the world and most of them don’t include squash, either. So the data is scant. I’ve summarized what I could find in a table, with longer descriptions afterward.
FODMAPs in Squash
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Currently, the primary FODMAPs of concern with squash are excess fructose, fructans and polyols. Unfortunately, there’s not much research on squash, especially for less popular varieties like acorn and Hubbard. The table below summarizes what I’ve found on the FODMAP content of different squashes.
I’ve been able to get quality data on the fructose content of many popular squashes, but have had less luck with data on fructans and polyols. If there are indications that a squash may contain a FODMAP in excess of suggested levels, I’ve listed this as possible. An “unknown” entry means that particular FODMAP either hasn’t been tested or that I haven’t been able to find published data for it.
You can learn more in the short descriptions of each squash following the table. I also have full length posts for several types of squash, which are linked later in the post, too.
I’ll update this table when I find new, relevant research. Just keep in mind that squash isn’t often tested in food studies, so some data will probably always be lacking.
Squash FODMAPs Summary Table
Is Acorn Squash Low FODMAP?
Acorn squash is a winter variety with a tough, inedible peel. It’s typically dark green in color, but can also be orange or white.7
Acorn squash is high in vitamins B1 and C and is also a good source of magnesium and potassium.8 Like many squash, acorn squash has a slightly sweet taste that really comes out when cooked, especially when baked or roasted.
Unfortunately, acorn squash isn’t well-researched within the FODMAP community. I was able to get quality data on the sugar content of acorn squash, but couldn’t find data on other possible FODMAPs in acorn squash.
A half cup of raw acorn squash contains .89 grams of fructose and .49 grams of glucose.1 At this serving size, acorn squash just meets published low FODMAP guidelines for excess fructose, if that’s the only FODMAP present.9
However, due to lack of research, we don’t know if excess fructose is the only FODMAP in acorn squash. Other squashes closely related to acorn squash, like pumpkin, have been shown to contain fructans. It’s possible, then, that acorn squash also has multiple FODMAPs.
If that’s the case, then the acceptable excess fructose level drops to .15 grams.9 At a half-cup serving, acorn squash would far exceed published low FODMAP guidelines for excess fructose.
The bottom line is that if you’re sensitive to fructose, you may be sensitive to acorn squash. If fructose isn’t an issue for you, remember that acorn squash might also fructans. If you want to test your tolerance for acorn squash, I’d start with a small serving of one-fourth cup baked or roasted cubes.
Is Buttercup Squash Low FODMAP?
Buttercup squash is less commonly sold in US supermarkets but is growing in popularity.
Buttercups are round with a dark green peel that has white or yellow stripes. Buttercups have a white, circular area near the stem. This is called a scar and marks where the blossom was attached.10 There are several varieties of buttercups and they’ve recently been bred with butternuts to create a new type of squash called honeynut.11
There’s very little data on the FODMAP content of buttercup squash. I couldn’t find a single instance in which buttercup squash was included in FODMAP studies. The only credible data I could find is the sugar content of buttercups.
A half-cup of raw buttercup squash contains 1.4 grams of fructose and 1.1 grams of glucose.1 So, the excess fructose level in buttercup squash is .30 grams, which is below the published guideline of .40 grams per serving.9 Again, this assumes excess fructose is the only FODMAP present in buttercup squash.
There’s not much evidence to suggest that buttercup squash may have other FODMAPs. Most popular squashes, except butternut, are part of the Cucurbita pepo family. This includes acorn, yellow, pumpkin and zucchini squash. However, buttercup belongs to the Cucurbita maxima family. We can’t draw comparisons, then, since most FODMAP studies of squash are on Cucurbita pepo varieties.
Is Kabocha Squash Low FODMAP?
Like buttercup, kabocha squash is part of the Cucurbita maxima family. Both squashes originally descended from Hubbard squash, which is discussed later.
Buttercups originated in the United States, while kabochas were initially bred in Japan. This is why they’re also known as Japanese pumpkins in the US.11 Like buttercups, kabocha squash can be dark green, but they can also be bluish-gray or orange. The dark green version looks identical to buttercup squash, except it lacks the white scar.
I wasn’t able to find any data on FODMAPs in kabocha squash. However, kabocha squash and buttercup squash are so similar botanically, farmers consider them the same squash and marketers often use the terms interchangeably.10 Given the similarities between them, I think it’s highly likely that buttercup and kabocha share the same nutritional profile.
While not much is known about FODMAPs in either of these squashes, I think it’s safe to assume that, like buttercup and its parent squash, Hubbard, kabocha squash contains low levels of excess fructose. But the status of fructans, polyols or other FODMAPs in kabocha is unclear.
Is Butternut Squash Low FODMAP?
Butternut squash is low FODMAP in small servings of one-fourth to one-third of a cup. Butternut squash contains excess fructose, and there’s evidence that it may also contain fructans and polyols at levels beyond suggested low FODMAP guidelines. You can learn more in my full post on FODMAPs in butternut squash.
Is Hubbard Squash Low FODMAP?
Like buttercup squash, Hubbard squash belongs to the Cucurbita maxima family. And like buttercup, Hubbard is also poorly researched among FODMAP scientists.
Hubbard is one the larger varieties of squash, growing up to 50 pounds. Like most winter squashes, Hubbards have a thick peel or skin. Hubbards typically have an oblong shape and are slightly pointed on both ends. They can range in color from blue to green to orange.12
Hubbards are one of the few types of squash that don’t have excess fructose. A half-cup of raw Hubbard squash has 1.9 grams of fructose and 1.9 grams of glucose. A half-cup also contains 1.8 grams of sucrose.1 So, a half-cup of Hubbard squash has about 5.7 grams of total sugar. This makes Hubbard one of the sweetest varieties of squash.
Is Pattypan Squash Low FODMAP?
I have big news: little pattypan squash may be the next superfood!
Pattypan squash is a summer variety easily recognized by its scalloped edges, which is why it’s often referred to as scallop squash. Pattypan (also spelled patty pan) is one of the smallest squashes. It has a thin, edible bright yellow peel, though some pattypans are white.
Pattypan is understudied within the FODMAP community, but other researchers have been paying attention to this little yellow squash. Several recent studies have shown that pattypans have properties that may be helpful in preventing cardiovascular disease.13 In fact, yellow pattypans were found more effective than other squash types in potentially helping treat heart disease.14
Hopefully the emerging research on the health benefits of pattypan will inspire FODMAP researchers to take a closer look at what is affectionately known as “the flying saucer” squash. As it currently stands, I couldn’t find any FODMAP-specific studies that include pattypan squash. The only solid data I have is on the sugar content of squash.
A half-cup of raw pattypan squash contains .585 grams of fructose and .46 grams of glucose.1 At this serving size, pattypan squash contains .125 grams of excess fructose. This is well below published low FODMAP guidelines. Even if it turns out pattypan contains other FODMAPs, a half-cup serving would still fall below the suggested level for excess fructose.
If you’re sensitive to fructose, good news: you should be able to eat normal serving sizes of pattypan squash without any issues. A low FODMAP food that also benefits heart health? That’s a win-win!
Is Pumpkin Low FODMAP?
Pumpkin is low FODMAP in small servings of one-fourth to one-third of a cup. Like butternut squash, pumpkin contains excess fructose, and there’s evidence that it also contains fructans at levels beyond suggested low FODMAP guidelines. You can learn more in my guide to FODMAPs in pumpkin.
Is Spaghetti Squash Low FODMAP?
Spaghetti squash has received a lot of attention from the media lately, due to its role as a low carb pasta substitute. Unfortunately, it hasn’t received the same level of attention from FODMAP researchers.
I wasn’t able to find many studies that include spaghetti squash. One study that did test spaghetti squash found it high in fructans. This study found that 100 grams (about 3.5 ounces) of raw spaghetti squash has 1.1 grams of fructans. When the squash was steamed, the fructan content increased to 1.3 grams.3 Both these values far exceed published low FODMAP guidelines for fructans.
I wasn’t able to find data on potential polyols in spaghetti squash, but I did locate reliable data on the fructose content. Fortunately, spaghetti squash doesn’t contain excess fructose. A half-cup of raw spaghetti squash contains .69 grams of fructose and .81 grams of glucose.1
If you’re sensitive to fructans, you’ll need to test your tolerance for spaghetti squash. Otherwise, this squash seems fairly safe for those following a low FODMAP eating plan. And that’s good news, given the health benefits of spaghetti squash.
As mentioned, spaghetti squash can be used as a low-calorie, low carb stand-in for pasta. This is why some refer to it as vegetable spaghetti or, according to at least one source, “squaghetti.”15 Like most winter squashes, spaghetti squash has a thick, inedible skin. The meat of spaghetti squash is a good source of vitamins and minerals and has properties that help regulate blood sugar.16
The bottom line is that, like butternut and other squashes, spaghetti squash is likely low FODMAP in small servings of less than half a cup. While larger servings of spaghetti squash don’t contain excess fructose, they may contain fructans in excess of suggested guidelines. And the jury is still out on the polyol content of spaghetti squash.
Is Yellow Squash Low FODMAP?
There isn’t a lot of data on the FODMAP content of yellow squash. Like most other squashes in the Cucurbita pepo group, yellow squash contains excess fructose.
A cup of raw, sliced yellow squash contains 2.02 grams of fructose and 1.56 grams of glucose.1 The excess fructose, then, is .46 grams, which exceeds low FODMAP guidelines. To bring excess fructose to acceptable levels, the serving size needs to be reduced to half a cup.
There’s a more detailed discussion about yellow squash in my full post on FODMAPs in zucchini, which is linked in the next section.
Is Zucchini Low FODMAP?
Zucchini is low FODMAP at serving sizes of less than half a cup. Like yellow squash, zucchini contains excess fructose in larger servings. There’s also some evidence that zucchini may contain excessive levels of fructans. However, unlike some squash varieties, zucchini does seem to be low in polyols.6 You can find more data in my post describing the FODMAP content of zucchini.
Conclusion: Low FODMAP Squashes
If you’re looking to add squash to your low FODMAP menu, your best bets are those belonging to the Cucurbita maxima family. This includes Hubbard, buttercup and kabocha squash. These squashes have no excess fructose and there’s no indication thus far that they contain other FODMAPs.
Another low FODMAP squash option is pattypan squash. Pattypan also contains no excess fructose and evidence is emerging that yellow pattypan squash has health benefits not found in other squashes. It doesn’t seem pattypan has been tested for FODMAPs, so keep that in mind.
Butternut may be the least optimal choice. It contains excess fructose and likely contains fructans and polyols, as well. Squashes like pumpkin, zucchini, yellow and spaghetti squash fall somewhere in-between. These have all been shown to contain or to likely contain at least one FODMAP.
The truth is, squash isn’t a food that’s included in many FODMAP studies, so we really don’t know how to classify most of them. For example, I really searched for information on delicata squash. I was unable to find anything related to FODMAPs in this type of squash, not even basic data on sugar content.
Squash is a very large, diverse plant species. There are several major squash families and many squashes within each family. You need to test your tolerance for individual squashes. You may do poorly with one, but another could become your new favorite food.
Posts Related to “Is Squash Low FODMAP?”
As mentioned, it’s not so easy to find good data on FODMAPs in squash. I was able to find enough data to create separate posts on a few types of squash.
This post looks at the FODMAP content of pumpkin, which can be low FODMAP at smaller serving sizes.
This post takes a deeper look at butternut squash, which is probably the least favorable squash option, since there’s fairly good evidence to suggest it contains at least three FODMAPs.
And this post contains information on FODMAPs in zucchini and yellow squash, though there’s much less data on yellow, or crookneck, squash.
Finally, if you’re interested in learning more about the fructose content specifically, I have a list of over 50 low fructose vegetables. Most vegetables are naturally low in fructose at the normal serving size of half a cup. But, as shown in this post, you have to be mindful of other FODMAPs when eating veggies.
About the Author
Amanda Coleman, PhD, studies food culture and teaches a popular Food and Society course. Years of digestive problems led her to live low FODMAP. Now she uses her research and analysis skills to help others understand FODMAP essentials, so they can lead better, healthier lives.
Disclaimer: the author is not a certified medical professional. Opinions expressed and content contained on this website are for informational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Exercise caution and due diligence when using this site and the information contained herein and understand your experiences may vary.