Surprising Health Benefits of Jicama

Jicama is a starchy root vegetable similar to a potato or turnip. The tuberous root tastes slightly sweet, but it is low in sugar, making it a good carbohydrate choice for people with diabetes and others attempting a low-sugar diet.

Originally from Mexico, the jicama is sometimes also known as a Mexican turnip or yam bean.

Although the root is safe to eat, the rest of the plant, including the beans, are toxic.

What is Jicama?

Jicama is a root vegetable with thick, brown skin. It’s white inside and tastes like an apple but not as sweet. It’s a bit like a potato but with a lot fewer carbs.

The jicama plant grows mostly in Mexico and Central America on a long vine. But the part you eat is the root.

On the outside, the jicama looks like a light brown beet. Inside, it looks and feels like a raw potato. But it doesn’t taste like one. It’s crisp and slightly sweet, like an apple. But jicama doesn’t brown like an apple after you cut it.

These bad boys can grow up to 50 pounds! But don’t worry about heaving one into your car at the farmer’s market. The small ones are the best to eat.

Jicama is pronounced HEE-kuh-muh or HIH-kuh-muh, and goes by many other names, including:

  • Chinese potato
  • Mexican potato
  • Mexican yam
  • Mexican yam bean
  • Mexican water chestnut
  • Mexican turnip
  • Leafcup

Jicama Nutrition

One medium-sized jicama has:

  • 250 calories
  • 32 grams of fiber
  • 12 grams of sugar
  • 4 grams of protein
  • 15%-19% of your daily recommended vitamin C

Uses of Jicama

  • It is most commonly eaten raw and seasoned with various spices, chili powder or fruit juices.
  • It can also be cooked in soups and stir fry dishes, but altering its state can decrease some of its health benefits.
  • Jicama can also be dried into slices, like potato fries, and used in dips.
  • They may also be good elements to add to various salads and side dishes.

Note: While the root is very beneficial and delicious, it’s important to note that the rest of the vine vegetable may be highly poisonous, including the seeds!

Health Benefits

Jicama can provide many health benefits that include the following:

Can Improve Digestion

One of the most important elements of jicama can be the high levels of dietary fiber. Research published in the journal Nutrients examined that foods with high dietary fiber content may help increase the bulk of stool, thereby helping it move through the digestive tract and aiding conditions like constipation. Furthermore, jicama may contain a rich source of a soluble fiber called oligofructose inulin, a sweet, inert carbohydrate that does not metabolize into simple sugars. This means that for diabetics, jicama can be a great way to have some sweet food without worrying about blood sugar fluctuation.

Prebiotic

Probiotics are bacteria and yeast that are beneficial to human health.

Living in every person’s gut is a large community of bacteria. Consuming foods or supplements that contain probiotics can help restore the natural balance of this community. Studies link probiotics with a range of health benefits, including improved gut health and a lower risk of certain infections.

Prebiotics are a type of fiber that the body cannot digest. Prebiotics support the growth of probiotics by providing them with food. Jicama is rich in inulin a type of prebiotic fiber.

May Boost Heart Health

Jicama contains dietary fiber, potassium, iron, copper and nitrate, which may benefit heart health by lowering cholesterol levels, reducing blood pressure and improving circulation.

Jicama has numerous nutrients that make it an excellent choice for improving heart health.

It contains a significant amount of soluble dietary fiber, which may help lower cholesterol levels by preventing bile from being reabsorbed in the intestines, as well as preventing the liver from making more cholesterol.

A review of 23 studies showed that increasing fiber intake significantly decreased total cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol.

Jicama also contains potassium, which helps lower blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels.

For example, one study showed that potassium decreased blood pressure and protected against heart disease and stroke.

Additionally, jicama may improve circulation because it contains iron and copper, both of which are necessary for healthy red blood cells. One cup contains 0.78 mg of iron and 0.62 mg of copper.

Jicama is also a natural source of nitrate. Studies have linked nitrate consumption from vegetables to increased circulation and better exercise performance.

Furthermore, one study in healthy adults showed that consuming 16.6 ounces (500 mL) of jicama juice reduced the risk of developing blood clots.

Might Boost Immune System

There is a very large amount of vitamin C found in jicama; 100 grams of jicama (about 3 quarters of a cup) can give approximately 40 percent of our entire daily requirement. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is an essential part of our immune system, as it stimulates the white blood cells, which are the body’s first main line of defense against illness. Vitamin C can help the body in battling bacterial, viral, fungal or pathogenic diseases.

This root vegetable is also known as Bengkoang in Indonesia. A study in 2014 in the journal Cytotechnology, suggests that the crude fiber and carbohydrates present in jicama could have positive effects on the human immune system.

Might have Anticancer Potential

The presence of dietary fiber in jicama can make it beneficial for your digestive system. According to a 2014 study led by Otles and Ozgoz, dietary fiber can offer protection against several conditions, including colon cancer, gastroesophageal reflux disease, duodenal ulcer, and certain gastrointestinal diseases, amongst others. Also, jicama roots are packed with antioxidants including vitamin C. According to the National Cancer Institute, antioxidants assist in neutralizing the effects of free radicals, which can in turn help lower the risk of several types of cancers, as well as heart diseases. However, further studies are needed to explore the link between jicama and cancer prevention in humans.

Might Manage Blood Pressure

As a rich source of potassium, jicama could be able to manage blood pressure. Potassium is a vasodilator and reduces the tension on blood vessels and arteries, thereby lowering stress on the cardiovascular system. Researchers from the University of Alabama conducted a study in 2010 which maintains that an increase in dietary potassium and reduction in sodium could positively impact blood pressure decline. This reduction could be associated with improved heart health and stroke prevention. Potassium is also essential for maintaining fluid balance in opposition to sodium throughout the body, thereby keeping our body hydrated and functioning at a high level.

Might Improve Blood Circulation

The significant amounts of copper and iron found in jicama can also make it good for maintaining the health of the circulatory system. These two minerals are important elements of red blood cells; Adequate amount of these components allow oxygenated blood to flow through the body and may assist in preventing anemia.

May aid in Weight Loss

Low-calorie foods are important for those trying to lose weight, especially when those low-calorie foods are also packed with nutrients and dietary fiber to make you feel full. Jicama only has 35 calories per 100 grams and is filled with nutrients, water, and fiber, which may keep you satiated for longer. It could also be an excellent snack to reduce your appetite and curb cravings without gaining any weight or losing any nutritional benefits.

MIMI (Multi ion mask insert)

  • Can be worn with any facemask and provides additional heavy-duty protection.
  • Adult & Youth Sizes Available

Might Improve Brain Function

Vitamin B6 has been linked to preserving your brain’s health and increased cognitive abilities; jicama has this vitamin in significant amounts. Furthermore, vitamin B6 is integral in breaking down proteins into usable amino acids, that can maximize the metabolic processes and efficiency of various organs.

Might Strengthen Bones

The minerals found in jicama – like manganese, magnesium, iron, and copper mean that this root vegetable can be a major booster for our bone mineral density. These minerals are essential for building strong, new bones and healing any damage to existing bones. This may be a positive method for preventing the onset of conditions like osteoporosis, which millions of people suffer from worldwide.

How to use

Eaten raw, jicama tastes similar to an uncooked potato but slightly juicier and sweeter.

A person can use jicama to add flavor and texture to a variety of dishes. Try adding it to a Mexican fruit salad or thinly slicing it to give some crunch to a vegetable salad.

Some other, easy ways to prepare jicama include:

  • thinly slicing the jicama, sprinkling it with sea salt and lime juice, and serving on top of avocado
  • sautéing it and tossing with other vegetables, such as broccoli and carrots
  • using it as a substitute for water chestnuts in a stir-fry

Summary

Jicama is a starchy root vegetable that people describe as tasting like a sweeter and juicer version of potato. It is low in calories, sugars, and fats, but rich in fiber and contains several essential vitamins and minerals.

Jicama may be a good choice for people with diabetes or those on a low-sugar diet. The root vegetable is safe to eat cooked or raw and can add texture to a wide variety of meals. However, the rest of the plant, including the flowers and beans, is toxic.

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