Jicama: 6 Health Benefits of This Nutrient-Rich Root Vegetable

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

Jicama (Pachyrhizus erosus) is a nutrient-rich root vegetable that can offer many health benefits including its ability to help you manage weight, optimize digestion, strengthen the immune system, and build strong bones. Jicama may also help increase circulation, lower blood pressure levels, and manage blood sugar levels.

What is Jicama?

While it may be a hard time to pronounce the name, jicama (HEE-Kah-mah) is a root vegetable native to central and South America and might have been used for thousands of years as a dietary element and a medicinally beneficial substance. The name “jicama” is also the name of the vine of this vegetable, although the tuberous root is the most commonly eaten part. Some other names for jicama include Mexican yam or Mexican turnip. The scientific name of this root vegetable is classified as Pachyrhizus erosus. [1]

The jicama root can grow up to 2 meters long and weigh up to 20 kgs at the extreme. It requires between 6-9 months of frost-free growth time and is cultivated in warm weather. Mexico and the surrounding areas of America are ideal for its growth. Its cultivation began in Mexico but soon moved to the Philippines; from there, it went to China and other parts of Southeast Asia. It is a popular culinary element in these cuisines.

The interior of the jicama is similar to a potato or a pear in terms of consistency and color. Like most root vegetables, it is high in starch. [2]

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-fried 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!

Now, let’s explore the nutritional elements that make jicama so important for the diet of various cultures around the world.

A close-up view of a whole and cut jicama on a wooden table

Jicama may be low in calories as well as high in fiber and water. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Yambean (jicama), raw
Serving Size :
Water [g]90.07
Energy 38
Energy [kJ]159
Protein [g]0.72
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.09
Ash [g]0.3
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]8.82
Fiber, total dietary [g]4.9
Sugars, total including NLEA [g]1.8
Calcium, Ca [mg]12
Iron, Fe [mg]0.6
Magnesium, Mg [mg]12
Phosphorus, P [mg]18
Potassium, K [mg]150
Sodium, Na [mg]4
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.16
Copper, Cu [mg]0.05
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.06
Selenium, Se [µg]0.7
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]20.2
Thiamin [mg]0.02
Riboflavin [mg]0.03
Niacin [mg]0.2
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.14
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.04
Folate, total [µg]12
Folate, food [µg]12
Folate, DFE [µg]12
Choline, total [mg]13.6
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]1
Carotene, beta [µg]13
Vitamin A, IU [IU]21
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.46
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]0.3
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.02
16:0 [g]0.02
18:0 [g]0
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.01
18:1 [g]0.01
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.04
18:2 [g]0.03
18:3 [g]0.01
Threonine [g]0.02
Isoleucine [g]0.02
Leucine [g]0.03
Lysine [g]0.03
Methionine [g]0.01
Cystine [g]0.01
Phenylalanine [g]0.02
Tyrosine [g]0.01
Valine [g]0.02
Arginine [g]0.04
Histidine [g]0.02
Alanine [g]0.02
Aspartic acid [g]0.2
Glutamic acid [g]0.04
Glycine [g]0.02
Proline [g]0.03
Serine [g]0.03
Sources include : USDA [3]

Jicama Nutrition Facts

According to the USDA National Nutrient Database, this food may have a unique mixture of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and other organic compounds, including dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E, folate, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, and a small amount of protein. Let’s see how these nutritional elements give jicama its unique health benefits! [4]

Health Benefits of Jicama

Jicama can provide many health benefits that include the following:

Can Improve Digestion & Gut Health

One of the most important elements of jicama is 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. Furthermore, Jicama may help in easing constipation due to its high-water content. It also contains a rich source of a prebiotic, soluble fiber called oligofructose inulin. This prebiotic fiber acts as a food source for beneficial bacteria in the gut, promoting their growth and activity. [5] [6] [7] [8] [9]

Multiple research suggests that increasing your intake of inulin-rich vegetables can positively impact your digestion and eating habits. Thus by supporting the growth of these beneficial bacteria, jicama helps maintain a balanced gut microbiome, which is essential for overall health and well-being.   [10]

Might Boost the Immune System

Jicama contains a very large amount of vitamin C (ascorbic acid), an important antioxidant. 100 grams of jicama (about 3 quarters of a cup) can give approximately 40 percent of our daily Vitamin C requirement. Vitamin C is an essential part of our immune system, as it helps the body in battling bacterial, viral, fungal, or pathogenic diseases. [11] [12]

A study in the journal Cytotechnology, suggests that the crude fiber and carbohydrates present in jicama could have positive effects on the human immune system.  [13]

May Promote Heart Health

Jicama holds the potential for enhancing heart health due to its nutrient composition. Its rich potassium content contributes to blood pressure management by reducing strain on blood vessels, a vital factor in cardiovascular well-being.

It also boasts soluble dietary fiber, which may lower cholesterol levels by inhibiting bile reabsorption in the intestines and curbing excess cholesterol production in the liver. Studies have shown that increased fiber intake significantly reduces total and LDL cholesterol. [14] [15] [16]

Jicama also contains copper and iron, which benefit circulatory health by supporting red blood cell production, promoting oxygenated blood flow, and maintaining cardiac functions, as maintained in multiple studies. [17] [18]

Moreover, jicama serves as a natural source of nitrate, which research suggests improves circulation and exercise performance.  [19]

In conclusion, jicama, with its potassium, fiber, and nitrate content, shows promise in promoting heart health, offering benefits such as blood pressure management, cholesterol reduction, and improved circulation.

May aid in Weight Loss

Jicama is a nutrient-dense food, offering a wealth of essential vitamins and minerals while being relatively low in calories. This makes it an excellent choice for those seeking to shed pounds. With its high water and fiber content, jicama can keep you feeling full and satisfied.

According to a study, fiber slows down digestion, preventing rapid spikes in blood sugar levels after meals, which can contribute to weight gain. Animal studies suggest that jicama may increase insulin sensitivity and reduce post-meal blood glucose levels, making it beneficial for individuals looking to manage their weight. [20] [21] [22]

It also contains a prebiotic fiber called inulin, which has been linked to weight loss and improved feelings of fullness.  [23]

With just 35 calories per 100 grams, jicama offers a satisfying and weight-conscious option for those on a weight-loss journey.

Might Control Blood Glucose

Consuming jicama as part of a healthy diet may help control and manage insulin resistance, a major contributor to obesity. Recent studies support this notion. In 2016, research on mice suggested that jicama consumption could enhance insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels. Furthermore, another animal study conducted in 2022 found that inulin, a component of jicama, led to changes in gut metabolites and a reduction in visceral adipose tissue, ultimately improving glucose tolerance. [24] [25]

However, it’s important to note that the effects of jicama on insulin resistance and blood sugar control in humans have not been extensively studied, and more research is needed to fully understand its potential benefits.

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. [26]

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, jicama offers an array of health benefits due to its unique blend of nutrients, including dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium, and other essential minerals. It can aid digestion, boost the immune system, promote heart health, assist in weight loss, control blood glucose levels, and strengthen bones.

While the root of the plant possesses beneficial properties, it’s imperative to exercise caution and avoid consumption of any other part of the plant, including the flowers and beans. These components contain toxic substances that can pose serious health risks.


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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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