Chayote (Sechium edule) is a type of squash that belongs to the gourd family Cucurbitaceae.
It originally hails from central Mexico and various parts of Latin America but is now grown all over the world. It’s also known as mirliton squash or chocho.
Chayote is loaded with an array of nutrients and antioxidant compounds that provide many potential health benefits.
Here are 10 impressive health benefits of chayote squash.
One of the greatest attributes of chayote squash is its nutrition content, as it offers various essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
A single chayote squash (203 grams) provides the following nutrients (
- Calories: 39
- Carbs: 9 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Fat: 0 grams
- Fiber: 4 grams — 14% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI)
- Vitamin C: 26% of the RDI
- Vitamin B9 (folate): 47% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 10% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 8% of the RDI
- Manganese: 19% of the RDI
- Copper: 12% of the RDI
- Zinc: 10% of the RDI
- Potassium: 7% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 6% of the RDI
Notably, chayote is particularly high in folate, which promotes proper cell division.
Alongside its nutrient density, chayote also happens to be low in calories, fat, sodium, and total carbs. As such, it’s quite healthy and makes for a good fit for various diets (
Summary Chayote squash is high in many nutrients — especially folate (vitamin B9) — while low in calories, carbs, and fat.
Many of chayote’s benefits may be attributed to its antioxidant content.
Antioxidants are compounds found in a variety of foods that protect against cellular damage, reduce inflammation, and lower stress within your body (
Chayote squash provides the antioxidants quercetin, myricetin, morin, and kaempferol (
Of these, myricetin occurs in the highest amounts. Research suggests that myricetin carries strong anticancer, antidiabetes, and anti-inflammatory properties (
Additionally, chayote squash is an excellent source of vitamin C, which serves as an antioxidant in your body (
Summary Chayote squash provides multiple antioxidants — including vitamin C and myricetin — that fight disease and promote health.
Eating chayote squash may improve several heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and poor blood flow.
Animal and test-tube research indicates that chayote compounds may help relax blood vessels, thereby improving blood flow and reducing blood pressure (
Myricetin, a prominent antioxidant in chayote squash, has also been shown to lower cholesterol in some animal studies (
Moreover, this squash is a good source of fiber, providing about 14% of the RDI. Higher intake of fiber-rich foods like chayote is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease (
Summary Various plant compounds and fiber present in chayote make it a good choice for heart health. These compounds may improve blood flow while lowering blood pressure and cholesterol.
Chayote squash is low in total carbs and high in soluble fiber, which may help regulate blood sugar levels (
Soluble fiber slows down your digestion and absorption of carbs, which reduces your blood sugar response after eating (
Chayote may also improve blood sugar control by affecting insulin.
Insulin resistance is a condition that occurs when your cells become less sensitive to insulin — a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels.
This leads to progressively higher blood sugar levels and can eventually result in diabetes.
Research suggests that unique plant compounds in chayote may play a role in increasing your sensitivity to insulin by reducing the activity of enzymes linked to poor blood sugar control and type 2 diabetes (
Summary Fiber and plant compounds in chayote may contribute to stabilizing blood sugar and improving insulin sensitivity.
Folate, or vitamin B9, is essential for all people — but it’s particularly important for those who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant.
During early pregnancy, folate is required for proper development of the fetal brain and spinal cord. Adequate folate intake may also play a role in preventing preterm births (
Chayote is an excellent source of folate, providing over 40% of the RDI in one squash (
Thus, including chayote and other folate-rich foods as part of a balanced diet is a great way to support a healthy pregnancy.
Summary Chayote is an excellent source of folate, a nutrient required for proper fetal development. Therefore, the squash may have appeal for women who are pregnant or trying to become so.
Higher fruit and vegetable consumption is associated with a reduced risk of various types of cancer, including those of the digestive tract (
Test-tube studies note that certain chayote compounds may slow the growth and progression of some cancer cells, such as those of cervical cancer and leukemia (
Although these results are promising, current evidence isn’t strong enough to suggest that chayote has cancer-fighting effects in humans.
Ultimately, more research is needed.
Summary Some test-tube research indicates that compounds in chayote may have anticancer benefits, but more studies are needed.
One of the main theories of aging centers on molecules called free radicals that inflict damage on your cells, ultimately leading to reduced functionality over time (
Some research indicates that consuming foods high in antioxidants may slow the aging process by protecting cells from free radical damage (
Chayote squash happens to be full of antioxidants, one of which is vitamin C.
In addition to its antioxidant capacity, vitamin C is necessary for producing collagen, one of the primary proteins found in your skin. Collagen is often credited with giving skin its firm, youthful appearance (
Thus, adequate intake of vitamin-C-rich foods like chayote squash may help reduce visible signs of aging (
What’s more, a recent test-tube study revealed a strong protective effect of chayote extract on human skin cells against damage from UV radiation (
Ultimately, more research is needed on chayote and skin health.
Summary Chayote contains several antioxidants, including vitamin C, which may contribute to youthful-looking skin and reduce visible signs of aging.
Fatty liver disease is a condition in which excess fat is deposited into liver tissue. Too much fat in your liver can affect its ability to function properly (
Both test-tube and animal studies suggest that chayote squash extract may protect against fat accumulation in the liver, thus potentially preventing or treating fatty liver disease (
In one study, rats fed a high-fat diet and treated with chayote extract had significantly lower cholesterol and fatty acid deposits in their livers than control rats. This was due to apparent changes in the function of enzymes involved in fat metabolism (
At this point, more research is needed to understand how chayote squash may support liver health in humans.
Summary Test-tube and animal research indicates that chayote squash extract may reduce fat accumulation in your liver, potentially protecting against fatty liver disease. However, more studies are needed.
Chayote squash boasts very few calories but a lot of fiber — two attributes which can support a healthy weight (
A whole chayote squash (203 grams) provides 39 calories and 4 grams of fiber. Fiber slows down the rate at which your stomach empties, leaving you feeling full and satisfied for longer — which may decrease food intake and promote weight loss (
Moreover, research suggests that consumption of dietary fiber may increase fullness hormones like GLP-1 and peptide YY (
Thus, adding chayote squash to your diet may help you stay on track with your weight loss goals.
Summary Chayote is low in calories and high in fiber, which can aid weight loss and maintenance by helping you feel fuller for longer.
Your digestive tract is responsible for a variety of essential functions, including detoxification, immunity, and digestion and absorption of nutrients (
Consumption of fruits and vegetables like chayote squash can boost digestive function.
Flavonoids, plant compounds which support digestion, are found in high amounts in chayote (
Research indicates that flavonoid-rich foods aid digestive enzymes involved in the removal and excretion of waste products in your digestive tract (
What’s more, adequate intake of fiber-rich foods like chayote can encourage healthy intestinal function and maintenance of healthy gut bacteria.
In turn, these benefits promote bowel regularity and may play a role in preventing various chronic conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and colon cancer (
Summary Flavonoids and fiber in chayote boost various functions of your digestive tract, including healthy gut bacteria and bowel regularity.
Chayote is very versatile and relatively easy to acquire and prepare.
These squashes are bright green and pear-shaped, with lots of ridges on their skin. Their mild flavor lends itself to both sweet and savory dishes.
Although botanically classified as fruits, chayote squashes are prepared like vegetables. Every part of the squash can be eaten, including its skin, flesh, and seeds. You can consume it raw or cooked.
When served raw, it makes a great addition to smoothies, slaws, and salads. Alternatively, it’s easily steamed, roasted, or fried. You could even consider adding it to soups, stews, and casseroles for an extra boost of nutrition.
Summary Chayote squash is a green, pear-shaped fruit often used as a vegetable. Its mild flavor makes it a versatile addition to a variety of dishes.
Chayote squash is low in calories but packed with fiber, antioxidants, and essential nutrients that make it a healthy addition to almost any diet.
Its potential benefits include supporting a healthy pregnancy and promoting heart health.
Colorful and easy to prepare, chayote is worth trying out as part of a balanced diet.