Acorn Squash Side Effects

Acorn squash is a type of winter squash and an excellent source of many nutrients, including fiber, vitamin C, and potassium (1). 

While acorn squash does provide numerous health benefits, it can also have some mild side effects.

Keep reading to learn about the potential risks before including acorn squash in your diet.

1. May increase bloating and gas

Acorn squash is exceptionally high in fiber, with 9 grams (32% of the Daily Value) in each 1-cup (205-gram) serving (1).

Getting enough fiber is important for overall health. It plays a role in regulating bowel movements, maintaining healthy gut bacteria, and balancing blood sugar (2).

However, fiber can also lead to an increase in bloating and gas, especially if you’re not used to eating a high-fiber diet or aren’t getting enough fluids (2).

To limit side effects, it may be helpful to start with smaller portion sizes of acorn squash and other high-fiber foods. Then you can slowly increase your fiber intake over the course of 1-2 weeks (3).

2. May increase symptoms of IBS

Acorn squash may increase symptoms in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) due to its high FODMAP content (4).

FODMAPs are short-chain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine and rapidly fermented by gut bacteria. This can lead to symptoms like bloating, gas, and diarrhea, especially in people with IBS (5).

Low-FODMAP diets are a popular treatment option for IBS, as they have been shown to reduce gastrointestinal symptoms and improve quality of life (4).

According to the Monash University FODMAP Diet app, a ⅔-cup serving of raw acorn squash is high FODMAP – particularly one type of FODMAP known as fructans.

Because of this, you may want to avoid acorn squash if you are sensitive to fructans or are currently in the elimination phase of the low-FODMAP diet (6). 

Another option is to reduce your serving size to an amount that is considered low-FODMAP — about ⅓ cup. 

3. May irritate the skin

After handling raw winter squash, you may notice that it leaves behind a sticky residue that’s difficult to remove and can make your skin feel tight. 

This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as “squash hands,” and symptoms can range from mild discomfort to more severe reactions resulting in redness and blisters (7).

In particular, there have been reports of people developing skin inflammation (also known as dermatitis) after handling raw, peeled butternut squash with bare hands (8).

While there hasn’t been any research on acorn squash specifically, some people say they’ve experienced similar symptoms while peeling or slicing it without wearing gloves.

To avoid any skin irritation, consider wearing gloves while preparing acorn squash, especially if you have sensitive skin.

4. May not be suitable for low-potassium diets

Acorn squash offers 896 mg of potassium in each 1-cup (205-gram) serving — that’s almost one-fifth of the Daily Value (1).

Potassium is an important mineral that helps regulate fluid balance, support muscle and nerve function, and maintain a normal heart rhythm (9). 

However, if your kidneys are damaged, potassium can build up in the blood and cause muscle weakness, vomiting, difficulty breathing, and irregular heartbeat (10, 11).

Because of this some people with chronic kidney disease (CKD) may need to limit potassium in their diets, depending on their disease stage and blood potassium levels (12).

If you have kidney disease, consult with your doctor or dietitian to determine whether you need to limit high-potassium foods like acorn squash.

Final thoughts

Acorn squash is a delicious winter vegetable that’s high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

However, acorn squash can increase bloating and gas due to its high fiber content and may cause skin irritation if handled without gloves.

Additionally, anyone following a low-FODMAP or low-potassium diet may need to avoid acorn squash, as it is high in both.

If in doubt, it’s best to talk with your doctor or dietitian about whether acorn squash can fit into your diet.

Amy Richter is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist based in Missouri. She is an experienced nutrition writer and medical advisor for Healthline and Medical News Today.  Amy is passionate about all things food-related and enjoys translating complex science into easy-to-understand articles.

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