What Are the Health Benefits of Jicama?
Jicama, also called Pachyrhizus erosus, is a tuberous, edible root vegetable that is often compared to a cross between a pear and a potato.
It is native to Mexico and Central America, but can now be found in markets all over the world.
Jicama is high in fiber and vitamin C, and it has a sweet, nutty flavor that makes it a popular ingredient in salads, slaws, and stir-fries.
In this article, we will discuss the health benefits of jicama and provide some tips on how to prepare this delicious vegetable.
What is jicama?
Jicama is a root vegetable grown on a vine that originates from Mexico.
Unpeeled jicama has a light brown to brown colored skin and crisp white flesh similar to that of a raw potato. It is slightly sweet and crunchy, similar to an apple or pear although not quite as sweet.
The jicama plant is grown in warm climates all over the world now as it requires a long growing season with no frost and is available year-round.
What are some other names of jicama?
Jicama is not the only name the for this vegetable. Other names for jicama include:
- Yam bean
- Chinese potato
- Chinese turnip
- Mexican potato
- Mexican yam
- Mexican yam bean
- Mexican water chestnut
- Mexican turnip
What is the nutritional value of jicama?
Jicama is a great source of vitamin C as well as dietary fiber. It also contains small amounts of potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
The nutritional value of one cup of jicama (130 grams) is as follows:
- Carbs:11.5 grams
- Protein:0.94 grams
- Fat:0.12 gram
- Fiber:6.37 grams
- Vitamin C:26.3 mg
- Iron: 0.78 mg
- Magnesium:15.6 mg
- Potassium:195 mg
- Manganese:0.08 mg
Jicama is also low in fat with a high fiber content which can make it excellent for losing weight. High fiber means that jicama can help you to feel fuller for longer and also aids in digestion.
It also contains essential vitamins and minerals that are essential for good health.
What are the health benefits of jicama?
Some of the potential health benefits associated with jicama include:
Jicama may aid in weight loss due to its high fiber content and low-calorie count. As noted above, fiber can help you feel full and also slow down your digestion.
It also has a high water content that can also make you feel full.
Healthier than a potato
Potatoes are another root vegetable that is often compared to jicama. However, jicama has a lower calorie and carbohydrate content than potatoes.
Jicama also contains more fiber and vitamins than potatoes making it a healthier alternative.
Aids in digestion
The high fiber content of jicama can also help with digestion by keeping your bowel movements regular and preventing constipation.
Fiber also helps to bulk up stool and makes it easier to pass. Its high water content also helps to keep things moving along smoothly.
The fiber in jicama can also help to reduce cholesterol by binding to it and preventing it from being absorbed into your bloodstream which can lower your risk of heart disease.
It also contains other minerals such as potassium which can also help to reduce cholesterol. Iron and copper are also present in jicama which is good for your heart health and keeps red blood cells healthy.
May help to prevent cancer
Some studies have shown that jicama may help to lower your risk of cancer as it contains antioxidants that can scavenge free radicals and prevent cell damage.
The antioxidants present in jicama include vitamin C, betacarotene, and vitamin E. Antioxidants also help with the immune system and lower your risk for cognitive decline and obesity.
Jicama's high fiber content can also help to reduce the risk of colon cancer.
Safe for diabetics
Jicama is also a safe food for diabetics as it has a low glycemic index which means that it doesn't cause spikes in your blood sugar levels.
The fiber content can also help to regulate blood sugar levels by slowing down the absorption of carbohydrates into your bloodstream.
Healthy for your gut
Not only does jicama contain fiber, but it also contains inulin, which is a type of prebiotic that feeds the good bacteria in your gut that can help to improve digestion and gut health.
If your gut has plenty of inulin, your healthy bacteria can thrive while your bad gut bacteria is reduced.
Having plenty of beneficial bacteria in your gut may also help to reduce your risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Keeps you hydrated
Jicama is also a great food for keeping you hydrated as it has a high water content with over 85% of jicama being water, which can be especially beneficial if you live in a hot climate or exercise regularly.
Are there any risks to eating jicama?
Jicama flesh is a safe food to eat and there are no known risks associated with eating jicama. However, the papery brown skin, stem, leaves, and seeds are all poisonous to eat as they contain the poison rotenone.
If you eat any of these parts of the plant, you may experience nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea and you need to contact your doctor or health care provider.
Although mildly toxic to humans unless ingested in large quantities, rotenone is very toxic to insects and aquatic life.
As with all foods, it's best to eat jicama in moderation as part of a balanced diet.
How do you prepare jicama?
To prepare jicama, simply wash the jicama under cold water to remove any dirt or debris.
Cut off the stem and leaves and then peel away the papery brown skin with a vegetable peeler or paring knife.
Jicama is then ready to be eaten raw or cooked and is very versatile as it can be cubed, shredded, slice into sticks, or even mashed.
What are the most popular ways to eat jicama?
There are many ways to enjoy jicama as it can be eaten raw or cooked, but some of the most popular ways to eat jicama include:
- Sliced and eaten raw as a healthy snack
- Added as raw jicama to salads for a crunchy texture
- Added as raw jicama to a slaw or coleslaw
- Sliced and used as a healthy alternative to chips or crackers
- Used as a low-carb alternative to potatoes in dishes such as roasted jicama wedges or jicama French fries, you can also bake the fries to make them even healthier
- Spiralized and used as a healthy alternative to noodles in dishes such as jicama noodle soup or jicama stir-fry
- Shredded and used as a low-carb alternative to rice in dishes such as jicama fried rice
- Mash jicama and use it as a low-carb alternative to mashed potatoes
There are endless possibilities when it comes to incorporating jicama into your diet so get creative and enjoy this healthy and delicious food.
How do you store jicama?
The whole jicama can be stored in the fridge for up to 2 to 3 weeks. If you have already cut it, jicama can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
Jicama can also be frozen, but it's best to freeze the whole vegetable before it is cut as cut pieces will have a different texture after defrosting.
You can store it in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 4 to 6 months.
Jicama is a healthy and delicious vegetable originally from Mexico that has many benefits including being low on the glycemic index, containing fiber and inulin, being hydrating, and also containing antioxidants.
Although jicama skin, stem, leaves, and seeds are poisonous, the jicama flesh is safe to eat.
Jicama can be eaten raw or cooked and is very versatile as it can be cubed, shredded, spiralized, or even mashed.
When storing jicama, it's best to store the whole vegetable in the fridge for up to a few weeks or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Enjoy jicama in moderation as part of a balanced diet and get creative with how you incorporate it into your meals.
If you have any more questions about jicama, its health benefits, and whether to incorporate it into your diet, please talk to your doctor, health care provider, or dietician.