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Is Spaghetti Squash Hard to Digest?

Kristie Leong MD is a family physician with a background in nutrition who has treated patients with digestive issues and food intolerances.

Spaghetti squash is a popular alternative to pasta, as it’s lower in carbohydrates and causes less of a rise in blood sugar than pasta. However, people react differently to foods based on their genetics.

Most people don’t have a problem digesting spaghetti squash and it’s not known to be a hard-to-digest food. Still, there are people who experience indigestion when they eat it. Let’s look at some reasons this squash can be hard to digest for some people.

It's a Low FODMAP Food

One reason people experience digestive issues is they are sensitive to FODMAPs (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) in certain foods. People with FODMAP sensitivity experience gas, bloating or diarrhea when they eat high-FODMAP foods.

Around 30% of people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) experience digestive issues and worsening of their irritable bowel symptoms when they consume high-FODMAP foods.

However, spaghetti squash is not high in FODMAP, so it is unlikely to cause digestive issues for people who are not FODMAP sensitive. It’s also gluten free, so it shouldn’t trigger digestive issues for people with celiac disease or those who have gluten sensitivity.

The Fiber Content Can Cause Digestive Issues

Spaghetti squash is high in fiber with around two grams of fiber per serving. Some people experience digestive issues when they add fiber to their diet too quickly. If you eat this squash with other fiber-rich foods and increase the fiber content of your diet too fast, you could develop digestive issues because your gut hasn’t had time to adapt to the fiber you’re consuming.

Slowly introducing fiber is the best approach. This ensures your gut is ready and able to deal with larger quantities of fiber. Otherwise, you could experience gas or bloating until your gut l earns how to handle a higher fiber diet.

Cooking It Can Make It More Digestible

The best way to enjoy the benefits of spaghetti squash without digestive issues is to cook it until it is soft. Most people have an easier time digesting cooked foods than raw ones. If you have digestive issues after consuming spaghetti squash, it could be related to what you cooked spaghetti squash in.

For example, tomatoes are acidic and can worsen acid reflux symptoms and cause indigestion. So, placing a tomato sauce on spaghetti squash could cause digestive issues.

Watch the Sauces

Creamy sauces can cause issues if you have lactose intolerance. Most creamy sauces contain cream or milk, a source of lactose. If you can’t break down lactose due to lactose intolerance, you can experience digestive upset, including diarrhea, abdominal cramping, and bloating.

Try consuming spaghetti squash without a sauce and see if you tolerate it better. Sauces that are high in fat or made with onions or garlic can also cause digestive issues for some people too.

The Benefits of Spaghetti Squash

If you don’t experience digestive issues when you consume spaghetti squash, it’s a healthier alternative to pasta. A cup of cooked spaghetti squash contains 10 grams of carbohydrates and two grams of fiber, which makes it much lower in carbs than regular noodles. It’s low in calories too with only around 40 calories per serving cooked. It also provides important nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and magnesium.

Digestive Issues Have a Variety of Causes

Spaghetti squash is a delicious and nutritious food. You can eat it on its own or with a variety of sauces and seasonings. But be aware that the seasonings you put on the squash could also cause digestive issues.

The best way to know if you’re sensitive to certain foods is to keep a food diary and document your symptoms and what you ate each day. Then eliminate possible trigger foods and see whether it improves your symptoms.

Spaghetti squash is not a food that people commonly have problems digesting, but if you introduce too many fiber-rich foods at once, you could experience digestive unrest.

If you have persistent indigestion and changing your diet doesn’t help, see your healthcare provider, and make sure you don’t have a medical issue that’s affecting your digestive tract.

References

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.