Some of the health benefits of jicama include its ability to help you manage your weight, optimize your digestion, boost your immune system, prevent various types of cancer, increase your energy levels, help manage diabetes, build strong bones, increase circulation, lowers blood pressure, and boosts brain function.
Jicama is a root vegetable that is native to central and South America, and has 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 the Mexican yam, or the Mexican turnip. In terms of a scientific name, this root vegetable is classified as Pachyrhizus erosus.
The root itself can grow up to two meters long, and can weigh up to 20 kg, although those are certainly extreme sizes. They require between 6-9 months of frost free growth time, so they are mainly cultivated in warm weather, making Mexico and the surrounding areas of the American ideal. It began in Mexico but soon moved to the Philippines, and from there, it went to China and other parts of Southeast Asia. It is not a popular element in those 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, like other potato varieties. It is most commonly eaten raw, perhaps seasoned with various spices or fruit juices, as well as chili powder. It can also be cooked in soups and stir fry dishes, but some of its health benefits are slightly decreased in that way. Jicama can also be dried into slices like potato fries and used in dips. They are also good elements to add to various salads and side dishes.However, while the root is very beneficial and delicious, the rest of the vine vegetable is 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.
Nutritional Value of Jicama
Jicama’s health benefits are mainly derived from the unique mixture of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and other organic compounds, including dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitam 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!
Health Benefits of Jicama
Digestion: One of the most important elements of jicama is the high levels of dietary fiber that it contains. Dietary fiber helps to boost the bulk of stool, thereby helping it move through the digestive tract and reducing conditions like constipation. Furthermore, jicama is a rich source of a particular soluble fiber called oligofructose inulin, which is a sweet, inert carbohydrate that does not metabolize into simple sugars. This means that for diabetic patients, jicama can be a great way to have some sweet food without worrying about the blood sugar fluctuation that is usually a result.
Immune System: There is a very large amount of vitamin C found in jicama; 100 grams of jicama is approximately 40% of our entire daily requirement for ascorbic acid. Vitamin C is an essential part of our immune system health and stimulates the white blood cells, which are the body’s first main line of defense against illness. Battling bacterial, viral, fungal, or pathogenic diseases is greatly helped by adding vitamin C to your body. Also, the antioxidant potential of vitamin C means that it helps in the fight against cancer by neutralizing the effects of free radicals that have been connected with heart disease and cancer. Free radicals are found in the body as a result of cellular metabolism.
Blood Pressure: As a rich source of potassium, jicama is able to help manage blood pressure, since it is a vasodilator and reduces the tension on blood vessels and arteries, thereby lowering the stress on the cardiovascular system. Potassium is also essential for maintaining fluid balance in opposition to sodium throughout the body, thereby keeping our bodies hydrated and functioning at a high level.
Circulation: The significant amounts of copper and iron found in jicama make it very good for maintaining the health of the circulatory system, since those two minerals are important elements of red blood cells. Without those components, people suffer from anemia and low functioning of the organs that require fresh, oxygenated blood to properly function.
Brain Function: Vitamin B6 has been linked to increased brain function and cognitive abilities, and jicama has this vitamin is significant amounts. Furthermore, vitamin B6 is integral in breaking down proteins into usable amino acids and other forms of protein for humans. This maximizes the metabolic processes and efficiency of various organ systems.
Strong Bones: The levels of minerals like manganese, magnesium, iron, and copper found in jicama 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 is also the best way to prevent the onset of conditions like osteoporosis, which millions of people suffer from all over the world.
Weight Management: Low-calorie foods are very important for those trying to lose weight, especially when those low-calorie foods are also packed with nutrients and dietary fiber to make your body feel full. Jicama only has 35 calories per 100 grams, and is clearly filled with nutrients and fiber. Jicama is an excellent snack to reduce your appetite and curb cravings, without gaining any weight or losing any nutritional benefits.
A Few Words of Caution: As mentioned earlier, the root of jicama is edible, but the rest of the plant is highly toxic. Be careful not to eat the seed pods, leaves, or vines. Other than that, jicama is a healthy choice that can bring you a number of benefits!