A squash is a fleshy vegetable protected by a rind. All squash belongs to one of four species of the Curcurbita family of vegetables. In the United States, they are typically categorized as summer or winter squashes.
Summer Squash, sometimes called Italian or vegetable marrow, is a vegetable often grown in warm areas. It grows on bush-like plants and is harvested before the rind hardens and the fruit matures. These plants can produce abundant yields in a short amount of time. Summer varieties include zucchini, yellow crookneck, scallop and yellow straight-neck squashes.
Winter Squash varieties, on the other hand, are harvested and eaten when the fruit and seeds are mature and the skin has hardened into a tough rind. Because they stay on the vine longer, they tend to be considerably higher in nutritional value than their summer counterparts. Varieties includes acorn, spaghetti and butternut squashes.
Both summer and winter species are full of nutrients containing trace amounts of B vitamins and providing healthy doses of iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium. Squash rinds also contain beta-carotene. Vegetables in this family are a staple of many weight-loss diets because they are low in both calories and carbohydrates.