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What Is Jicama Good For? 7 Health Benefits Of The Root Vegetable

What Is Jicama Good For? 7 Health Benefits Of The Root Vegetable March 5, 2019

Jicama is a bulbous root vegetable with a golden brown, papery skin. It looks like a cross between an apple and a turnip. It is pronounced as hee-cama – and its other names include yam bean, Mexican water chestnut, Mexican potato, and Chinese turnip.

Jicama has been an important part of the traditional cuisines of Central and South America, the Caribbean, and parts of Asia for thousands of years. All for a reason – its healthful benefits.

What More Do We Know About Jicama?

Jicama is scientifically called Pachyrhizus erosus. While the texture of the vegetable is like that of a potato, it is firm to hold and tastes starchy and sweet (like an apple).

Except for the taproot, everything else about jicama is unsafe for consumption. This is attributed to the toxin rotenone, a naturally occurring odorless chemical in the plant that acts as an insecticide and pesticide (1).

Today, jicama is quite popular in China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, and parts of Southeast Asia. The reason is the host of benefits this root veggie has to offer.

How Can Jicama Benefit You?

1. Aids Diabetes Treatment

The hypoglycemic effects of jicama have been explored in a study. Jicama extract was found to lower postprandial blood glucose levels. The vegetable contains inulin, a soluble fiber that may help in this regard (2).

Jicama extract was also found to increase insulin sensitivity and regulate glucose levels in mice. It can inhibit gluconeogenesis (generation of glucose) in the liver (3).

Jicama has a low glycemic index as well. This makes it an ideal choice for anyone looking to regulate their blood sugar levels.

2. Boosts Heart Health

Boosts Heart Health Pinit

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The soluble fiber in jicama has a role to play here too. The soluble dietary fiber prevents the bile from being reabsorbed into the intestines. This not only lowers cholesterol levels but also prevents the liver from generating more cholesterol (4).

Jicama juice was identified for its cardioprotective benefits in another study. The juice was found to prevent blood clots with the help of its nitrate content (5).

Nitrate supplementation, in general, is associated with modest benefits to cardiovascular health (6). It lowers blood pressure levels and enhances blood flow. Jicama, being rich in nitrates, can help in this regard.

The fiber in jicama also contributes to heart health by helping lower blood cholesterol levels.

3. Can Cut Cancer Risk

A report suggests that including white vegetables (like jicama) in your diet can help lower the risk of some cancers (7). The vegetable is also rich in fiber. Studies show how fiber can be particularly protective against colon cancer (8).

Jicama is a good source of vitamin C too (9). Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that fights oxidative stress, which can lead to several forms of cancer (10).

4. Promotes Digestion

The fiber in jicama can play a great role in promoting digestion. Dietary fiber adds bulk to your diet. This promotes digestion and prevents constipation (11).

Jicama is rich in water too, and this aspect is also beneficial for digestion.

5. Enhances Gut Health

Jicama is rich in inulin, which is a type of prebiotic fiber. Prebiotics support probiotics (the beneficial gut bacteria) by supporting their nutrition (12).

6. May Help With Weight Loss

Jicama is nutrient-dense. It contains more nutrients and fewer calories (13). This can help promote weight loss.

The high water and fiber content in jicama also helps you fill up. This can discourage you from overeating and ultimately aid weight loss.

The prebiotic inulin in jicama has been linked to weight loss as well. Studies show that it can influence certain hormones that affect hunger and a feeling of fullness (14).

7. May Promote Immunity

The vitamin C in jicama may help boost the immune system.

The inulin in the veggie can also contribute to better immunity (15).

These are the major ways jicama can boost your health. In addition to what we came across, jicama contains other important nutrients. The following section covers all the nutrients in the healthful root vegetable.

What Is The Nutritional Profile Of Jicama?

Calorie Information
Amounts Per Selected Serving%DV
Calories45.6(191 kJ)2%
From Carbohydrate42.3(177 kJ)
From Fat0.9(3.8 kJ)
From Protein2.4(10.0 kJ)
From Alcohol0.0(0.0 kJ)
Carbohydrates
Amounts Per Selected Serving%DV
Total Carbohydrate10.6g4%
Dietary Fiber5.9g24%
Starch~
Sugars2.2 g
Vitamins
Amounts Per Selected Serving%DV
Vitamin A25.2 IU1%
Vitamin C24.2 mg40%
Vitamin D~~
Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol)0.6 mg3%
Vitamin K0.4 mcg0%
Thiamin0.0 mg2%
Riboflavin0.0 mg2%
Niacin0.2 mg1%
Vitamin B60.1 mg3%
Folate14.4 mcg4%
Vitamin B120.0 mcg0%
Pantothenic Acid0.2 mg2%
Choline16.3mg
Betaine~
Minerals
Amounts Per Selected Serving%DV
Calcium14.4 mg1%
Iron0.7 mg4%
Magnesium14.4 mg4%
Phosphorus21.6 mg2%
Potassium180 mg5%
Sodium4.8 mg0%
Zinc0.2 mg1%
Copper0.1 mg3%
Manganese0.1 mg4%
Selenium0.8 mcg1%
Fluoride~

One cup serving of sliced raw jicama (120 grams) has just about 46 calories. It also contains:

  • 24 milligrams of vitamin C (40% of daily value)
  • 180 milligrams of potassium (5% of DV)
  • 14.4 milligrams of magnesium (4% of DV)
  • 0.6 milligram of vitamin E (3% of DV)
  • 0.1 milligram of copper (3% of DV)
  • 25.2 IU of vitamin A (1% of DV)

That’s an impressive nutritional profile! But then, jicama is one vegetable not everyone is aware of. So, how does one prepare and consume it?

How Do You Eat Jicama?

First and foremost, you don’t want to forget about the toxin. The skin, leaves, pods, seeds, and stems of the root vegetable must be discarded before cooking.

Jicama is quite versatile. You can remove the peel and cut the white flesh into cubes or slices. You may add it to your diet in the following ways:

  • Add it to your evening vegetable salad.
  • Have the slices with a dip like hummus or guacamole.
  • Sprinkle it with chili powder and lemon juice for a spicy evening snack.
  • Combine it with mango or pineapple for a tropical salad.

This shows that jicama is not only nutritious but also delicious. Does this mean you can have as much of it as you want? Probably not – because it has a few side effects.

What Are The Side Effects Of Jicama?

  • Rotenone Toxicity

We already discussed this. Jicama contains this natural insecticide that can be toxic to humans. Hence, you must only consume the root of the vegetable (with its skin peeled off completely) (1).

  • Possible Effects Of Excess Fiber

Jicama is rich in fiber. Consuming too much of it in a day can cause issues like abdominal pain, flatulence, bloating, and constipation. Limit your intake to one to two whole vegetables per day.

Conclusion

Jicama is gaining popularity fast, thanks to its diverse array of nutrients and, more importantly, its low-carb and high-fiber profile. All of this just tells us how important it can be in our life. Remember to eat the flesh alone.

Did you have jicama before? How did you like it? Do let us know by leaving a comment in the box below.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Can you eat jicama raw?

Yes, you can eat it raw. It tastes sweet and nutty. Just remember to peel the skin off.

Is jicama good for a low-carb diet?

Yes. Jicama has fewer total carbohydrates compared to other vegetables. Hence, it can be a part of a low-carb diet.

Is jicama paleo?

Though the jicama root comes from a plant that also produces beans, the root itself is not a bean. Hence, jicama is paleo-friendly.

Is jicama keto-friendly?

Since it is low in carbs, jicama can be added to a keto diet.

How long does jicama last?

Jicama should last for about three days at room temperature. If you store the cut pieces wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator, they can last for about a week. Whole jicama can last in the refrigerator for up to three weeks.

References

  1. Rotenone” US National Library of Medicine.
  2. Hypoglycemic effect of jicama…” Preventive Nutrition and Food Science, US National Library of Medicine.
  3. Jicama extract increases insulin sensitivity…” Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine.
  4. Mechanisms underlying the cholesterol-lowering properties…” Food & Function, US National Library of Medicine.
  5. Platelet inhibitory effects of juices from…” BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine.
  6. Nitrate ingestion: a review of the health and physical…” Nutrients, US National Library of Medicine.
  7. Fruits & veggies – more matters…” TN Department of Health.
  8. Health effects of dietary fiber” Acta scientiarum polonorum. Technologia alimentaria, US National Library of Medicine.
  9. Basic report: 11603, yambean (jicama)…” National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release, US National Library of Medicine.
  10. Antioxidants: in depth” National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
  11. Dietary fiber” US National Library of Medicine.
  12. Prebiotics and probiotics in digestive health” Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, US National Library of Medicine.
  13. Yambean (jicama)…” SELFNutritionData.
  14. Modulation of the gut microbiota…” Advances in Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine.
  15. Inulin and oligofructose…” The Journal of Nutrition, US National Library of Medicine.