Jicama is a popular ingredient in Mexican cuisine and is especially popular for its nutty and slightly sweet flavor. This root vegetable is also known as yam bean, Mexican turnip, or Chinese potato. You can eat it raw or cook it as a side dish. This low-carb veggie has an excellent nutrient profile and many health benefits. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of jicama, how to eat it, and recipes you may try.
In This Article
What Is Jicama?
Jicama is a starchy root vegetable with thick, brown skin and is often compared to potatoes in terms of starch content. It has white, crunchy, and juicy flesh and is native to Mexico, Central, and South America. Jicama contains carbohydrates, dietary fiber, 80%-90% water, and trace amounts of protein and lipids. It has low levels of saturated fat and sodium. Here is the complete nutrient profile of Jicama.
Nutrient Profile Of Jicama
A hundred grams of raw jicama contains (1):
Total lipid (fat)
Carbohydrate, by the difference
Fiber, total dietary
All these nutrients and antioxidants in jicama can benefit your overall health in multiple ways. Let’s take a look.
Health Benefits Of Jicama
1. Reduces The Risk Of Diseases
The fiber in jicama can help with weight management and reduce inflammation, depression, and the risk of cardiovascular diseases (2). It contains calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and iron, which are important for improving bone strength. They also serve as co-factors for many enzymes for carrying out various chemical reactions in the body.
2. Reduces The Risk Of Congenital Abnormalities
Folate plays an important role in the development of the fetus, and jicama contains 4% of the recommended daily value of folate. During pregnancy, inadequate folic acid intake may lead to congenital heart defects, obstructive urinary tract anomalies (conditions affecting the kidneys and urinary tract structure), limb deficiencies, orofacial clefts, and congenital hypertrophic pyloric stenosis (blockage of the gastric passage).
Sufficient intake of folate is proven to reduce the risk of these congenital anomalies. It is also shown that adequate folic acid intake in adults is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and some cancers (5).
3. May Help In Diabetes Management
Jicama is rich in inulin, a soluble fiber that reduces postprandial blood glucose levels. Jicama can also improve insulin sensitivity by inhibiting gluconeogenesis in the liver and maintain plasma insulin levels (6). This may help in diabetes management.
4. May Reduce The Risk Of Cancer
Animal studies have shown that inulin has potential anticarcinogenic properties and significantly reduces the risk of colon cancer. In human cells, inulin-derived metabolites inhibit tumor cell growth and reduce other risk factors of cancer (7). Jicama extracts also contain inulin, which may have anti-cancer properties. However, more research is required to substantiate this claim.
5. Improves Bowel Movement
The insoluble fiber in jicama may help regulate bowel movements and reduce the risk of associated conditions like constipation, hemorrhoids, and other gastrointestinal conditions. Dietary fiber also lowers the risk of developing coronary heart disease, obesity, stroke, hypertension, and ulcers (8).
6. May Improve Skin And Hair Health
Jicama contains vitamin C, an antioxidant that improves skin and hair health when consumed. It prevents free radical damage to slow down premature aging, reduce hair loss, and promote healthy hair growth (9), (10), (11).
This vegetable is commonly eaten raw and has a slightly sweet, watery, and apple-like crunch. You can peel and eat jicama as it is or try these recipes at home.
How To Cook And Eat Jicama: 3 Delicious Recipes
1. Baked Jicama Fries
What You Need
- 1 medium-sized jicama (cut into finger chips)
- 1 tablespoon of avocado oil
- ½ teaspoon of turmeric
- ½ teaspoon of garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon of onion powder
- ½ teaspoon of sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon of black pepper
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Boil the jicama slices for 8-10 minutes.
- Drain the water and allow the slices to dry.
- Put them into a large bowl, add oil, turmeric, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and mix.
- Spread the fries onto a baking sheet.
- Bake for 30 minutes and serve with guacamole or cheese dipping.
2. Grilled Chicken With Jicama Avocado Salsa
What You Need
- 1 small jicama
- 3 tablespoons of lime juice
- ¼ cup of freshly chopped cilantro leaves
- 1 finely chopped medium shallot
- 1 diced avocado
- 4 thin chicken cutlets
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
- Finely dice the jicama and combine it with lime juice, cilantro, and shallots.
- Add the avocado, salt, and mix. Keep the salsa aside.
- Preheat grill pan to medium-high.
- Toss the chicken with the oil, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper in the pan.
- Grill the chicken for 2–4 minutes on each side.
- Serve it with salsa.
3. Crunchy Jicama Curry
What You Need
- 1 medium-sized diced jicama
- 2 medium-sized onion (chopped)
- 2 medium-sized tomatoes (chopped)
- 1 teaspoon of olive oil
- ½ tablespoon of turmeric
- ¼ tablespoon of coriander powder
- ¼ tablespoon of red chili powder
- ¼ tablespoon of cumin powder
- 1 cup of milk
- Add olive oil to a pressure cooker and sauté the onion for 5 minutes.
- Add turmeric, jicama, and the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
- Pressure cook it for 15 minutes.
- Add milk and cook for another five minutes.
- Serve hot with rice.
Jicama is often compared with potato as they look similar and contain starch. However, both are different.
Jicama Vs. Potato
Raw jicama has a slightly sweet and nutty flavor.
Raw potato has a bitter taste.
A hundred grams of jicama contains 38 calories.
A hundred grams of potato contains 79 calories.
It is a low-carb veggie (8.2 g of carbs per 100 g).
It contains more carbs than jicama (18.1 g of carbs per 100 g).
Jicama is safe to consume. However, you may experience side effects if you are allergic to it.
Side Effects Of Jicama
The seeds and stems of the jicama plant contain rotenone, a type of fatal toxin (12). Hence, avoid consuming any other parts of the jicama plant.
Jicama is safe when consumed in moderation. It contains fiber, which may cause the minor gastrointestinal issues mentioned below if consumed in excess:
- Abdominal pain
If you experience any of these side effects, drink plenty of water to relieve them. If the symptoms persist for more than two days, consult your doctor.
In rare cases, jicama may cause allergic reactions like:
- Itchy tongue
- Mild throat pain
- Stomach irritation and cramps
You may develop the symptoms within 30 minutes to two hours after consuming jicama. If you experience these, avoid consuming it, and consult a doctor for treatment.
To Sum Up
Jicama is a nutrient-dense root vegetable with multiple health benefits. It is an excellent source of dietary fiber, is low in calories, and can help in diabetes and weight management. Although it is safe for health, consuming excess jicama may cause bowel issues and constipation. You can eat it raw or try the recipes mentioned in the article to include jicama in your diet plan.
Is jicama good for weight loss?
Yes, jicama contains fewer calories, carbs, and high levels of water and dietary fiber, making it an excellent food choice for a weight loss diet plan.
Is jicama bad for inflammation?
No. Jicama contains vitamin C, an antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory properties. Therefore, consuming jicama may help fight inflammation.
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- Yambean (jicama) raw
- The Health Benefits of Dietary Fibre
- Exercise and mineral status of athletes: calcium magnesium phosphorus and iron
- Vitamin C and Immune Function
- Folic acid for the prevention of congenital anomalies
- Jicama (Pachyrhizus erosus) extract increases insulin sensitivity and regulates hepatic glucose in C57BL/Ksj-db/db mice
- Inulin-type fructans and reduction in colon cancer risk: a review of experimental and human data
- Jicama (Pachyrhizus erosus) fiber prevents excessive blood glucose and body weight increase without affecting food intake in mice fed with a high-sugar diet
- Vitamin C in Disease Prevention and Cure: An Overview
- Topical Vitamin C and the Skin: Mechanisms of Action and Clinical Applications
- The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review
- Fatality after deliberate ingestion of the pesticide rotenone: a case report