Jicama (pronounced hee-kam-ah) is a very plain, unattractive, oval shaped, light brown vegetable that is very often overlooked by produce shoppers. I venture to guess that many people don’t know what it is, or what they could do with it if they purchased it. Although it seems to be gaining more popularity, it is still one of the best kept nutritional secrets!
What is Jicama?
Jicama is a vine that is native to Mexico, although it grows in Central America, the Caribbean and Central Asia. Interestingly enough, it is part of the legume family. The only edible part of the jicama plant is the tuber– all other parts of the plant are poisonous, including the skin of the tuber. Jicama is creamy white with a texture somewhat like a pear and it is sweet and crunchy – kind of like an apple. Jicama is also referred to as Mexican Yam, Mexican Yam Bean, Mexican Water Chestnut and Mexican Turnip.
How nutritious is jicama?
It is amazingly nutritious! Here is the nutritional profile and the benefits:
- It is low in calories. The combination of low calories and high fiber content make it a great food for weight loss.
- Jicama has a high water content, around 85 to 90% water. A great food to eat during hot dry weather.
- It has a high fiber content – particularly a type of fiber called oligofructose inulin which enhances the absorption of calcium from foods, supporting bone health. Inulin also helps the body’s digestive system because it contributes to the growth of good bacteria in the colon. A healthy colon also means a strong immune system. The fiber content also helps lower cholesterol.
- Contains potassium – a mineral that has been associated with lower risk of heart disease.
- Contains Vitamin C – an antioxidant that fights free radicals and helps keep our cells healthy, and helps protect against inflammation, infections and even cancer.
- Other vitamins in jicama include B complex vitamins – thiamin, riboflavin, folate, pantothenic acid, and pyridoxine.
- Other minerals in jicama include copper, manganese, magnesium, and iron.
- Jicama has very low sodium and low saturated fat.
- Even though it has a sweet taste it has a low glycemic load (it won’t cause blood sugar issues), making it safe for diabetics
How do you cook jicama?
Jicama is incredibly versatile! There are so many ways jicama can be eaten, and there are a multitude of recipes on the internet. Jicama is often eaten raw and in salads, but it can also be cooked in soups, stir fry dishes or even roasted. Jicama can be pared with many different spices – chili powder, salsa, lemon, orange, cilantro, ginger, red onion, or soy sauce. Pick one of your favorite spices and try it out with jicama!
All in all, jicama seems like a great nutritional package with a terrific array of benefits!
So next time you see this unassuming, light brown oval vegetable in the produce department of your local store – give it a try! It just might become a family favorite!
Are you interested in learning more about which vegetables are super nutritious and can help you reach your health goals? Contact me and let’s chat about increasing your energy and vitality through the power of nutrition!
Mercola.com Food Facts
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