Is Acorn Squash Low Fodmap?

Acorn squash is a variety of winter squash that is often used in soups, salads, and side dishes during the fall and winter seasons.

If you are following a low-FODMAP diet, you might be wondering whether you can enjoy this delicious vegetable without triggering unpleasant symptoms.

Unfortunately, acorn squash is not considered low-FODMAP (unless consumed in very small portions), but there are a few delicious alternatives you can enjoy instead. Read on to learn more.

What are FODMAPs?

“FODMAP” is an abbreviation that stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (1).

They are short-chain carbohydrates found in food that are rapidly fermented by gut bacteria and may trigger gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating, gas, and diarrhea in some people.

Specifically, FODMAPs include (2):

  • Fructose: A type of sugar found in fruits, vegetables, and honey.
  • Lactose: The natural sugar found in milk and dairy products.
  • Fructans: A type of carbohydrate found in a wide variety of foods, including wheat.
  • Galactans: A type of carbohydrate found in legumes, such as beans and lentils.
  • Polyols: A group of carbohydrates that are found naturally in fruits and can also be used as artificial sweeteners. Also known as “sugar alcohols.”

The low-FODMAP diet is often recommended for people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other digestive disorders because it reduces symptoms and improves quality of life (3).

This diet begins with a short-term elimination of high-FODMAP foods, followed by the gradual reintroduction of foods to identify which types of FODMAPs trigger symptoms for the individual.

Is acorn squash low-FODMAP?

According to the Monash University FODMAP Diet app, a ⅔-cup serving of raw acorn squash is not low-FODMAP because it is high in a particular type of FODMAP called fructans.

Fructans are oligosaccharides (the “O” in FODMAP), which are carbohydrates made up of 3 to 10 monosaccharides (also known as simple sugars) (4, 5).

The small intestine only absorbs between 5% and 15% of fructans, so most end up in the colon, where they are fermented by bacteria (4).

In some people, this can result in uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating, gas, abdominal pain, and diarrhea.

If you are sensitive to fructans or are currently in the elimination phase of the low-FODMAP diet, it may be best to avoid acorn squash (6).

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

Low-FODMAP acorn squash alternatives

We use the Monash University FODMAP app to identify low-FODMAP foods. It is considered the best resource on FODMAPs, because it is updated frequently and includes information about portion sizes.

1. Kabocha squash

Kabocha squash is a type of winter squash that originated in Japan and is sometimes referred to as Japanese pumpkin (7). 

Compared to acorn squash, kabocha squash tastes slightly sweeter and has a smoother, less fibrous texture. It also tends to be drier and may benefit from moist cooking methods, such as steaming and simmering.

According to Monash, there are no detectable FODMAPs in kabocha squash, so it can be eaten freely by anyone following a low-FODMAP diet.

2. Sweet potatoes 

Sweet potatoes are a popular root vegetable that belongs to the Convolvulaceae (morning glory) family. 

They taste sweeter and have a creamier texture than acorn squash but can still serve as a substitute in soups, salads, and side dishes.

A ½-cup serving of sweet potato is considered low-FODMAP, but larger portions (¾ cup) are high in the mannitol, a type of polyol (the “P” in FODMAP).

3. Spaghetti squash

Spaghetti squash is another type of winter squash that has a unique, stringy texture and a very mild, almost neutral flavor.

Although it looks and tastes very different, spaghetti squash makes an excellent substitute for acorn squash as a side dish.

Spaghetti squash is considered low in FODMAPs when consumed in relatively small portion sizes — about ½ cup.

However, very large servings (2½ cups or more) contain moderate amounts of fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS).

Final thoughts

Acorn squash is not considered low-FODMAP, because a standard serving size (⅔ cup) contains high amounts of fructans.

People who are sensitive to fructans or are following the elimination phase of the low-FODMAP diet may want to avoid acorn squash. 

Thankfully, there are several low-FODMAP alternatives to acorn squash, including kabocha squash, sweet potatoes, and spaghetti squash.

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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