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Who Wins the Thanksgiving Throwdown: Pumpkin or Butternut?

By Sara Butler

The Thanksgiving Showdown

This time of the year you can find pumpkin around every single corner. In fact, it’s the ultimate symbol of the fall and the fall holidays. When was the last time you went to your grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving without that pumpkin centerpiece adorning the table -- not a butternut squash in sight? All the attention that pumpkin receives means that one solitary squash has to live in its shadow even if it’s just as tasty -- butternut squash. While you cannot go wrong with either from a taste or health perspective, there are a few differences between the two. Here’s what you need to know about each as we compare them for our Thanksgiving throwdown -- the clash of the squash!

A Nutritional Rundown

Pumpkin and butternut squash may seem very similar, but nutritionally they’re a little bit different. While they both have zero grams of fat and two grams of protein per one cup cooked serving, butternut squash delivers about 80 calories while pumpkin has about 50.

Of course, that’s not where the differences end. You’ll find 12 grams of carbs per one-cup serving of pumpkin compared to butternut’s 22 grams. Butternut delivers a bit more fiber too, at seven grams per serving compared with pumpkin’s three grams.

The Plusses of Pumpkin

Pumpkin is good for you. It helps to support a healthy immune system with a healthy dose of Vitamin A and Vitamin C, as well as potassium to help your muscles function optimally. Pumpkin also happens to contain Vitamin B6, an important nutrient to keep your central nervous system healthy, as well as magnesium, which is essential for bone health. Thiamin is also included, which helps your body to grow and develop new cells.

The Benefits of Butternut Squash

Butternut squash also has Vitamin A and Vitamin C that you’ll find in pumpkin but has a bit more. It also happens to have twice the iron and is a great source of potassium, Vitamin E, and magnesium. When you compare butternut to pumpkin, you’ll find more calories as discussed, but you’ll also find a lot more fiber and complex carbohydrates. The complex carbs and fiber in butternut squash help you to feel fuller for longer, but they also help to promote a healthy microbiome for your gut that can help keep your immune system functioning at its best and help your blood sugar stay stable after meals.

Taste and Texture Tug-of-War

One thing you may notice about butternut squash is that it’s a tad bit sweeter than pumpkin. It doesn’t work well in your morning smoothie or latte, which is probably why Starbucks doesn’t carry a Butternut Choca-Mocha latte.

Butternut squash does pair well with lean protein sources and roasts very well in the oven on its own. Pumpkin’s more earthy flavor goes best with richer flavors like bacon -- and those lattes that are a part of everyone’s favorite flavors.

When it comes to texture, butternut squash is a bit smoother than pumpkin, which is why you often find it in purees and soups. If you or someone in your household is a stickler for texture, then butternut squash will be the winner in this battle every time. Still, feel free to use either in dishes that are a bit heartier and slow-cooked, such as stews or chili.

The Conflict of Cost

When it comes to the battle of the budgets, pumpkin is the clear winner. You can find pumpkin for about $0.25 per pound while butternut squash usually costs in the neighborhood of $1.20 per pound. Pumpkin is also great for those of you who don’t like a lot of food waste, since you can also roast and eat the seeds from the pumpkin.

The Verdict

Who reigns supreme in the clash of the squash? The truth is that you can’t nutritionally go wrong with either option. Both support healthy bones, healthy muscles, a robust immune system, and neither has a ton of calories. Butternut squash may edge out pumpkin with its fiber content, making it more filling, but it depends on what dish you’re planning to make. Our verdict? Stock up on both and experiment with them in your cooking to find out which squash best suits your particular tastes and style of food fare.

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