Jicama is a nutrient-rich root vegetable that can offer many health benefits that may include its ability to help you manage weight, optimize digestion, strengthen the immune system, increase energy levels, manage diabetes, build strong bones and anticancer potential. Jicama may also help increase circulation, lower blood pressure levels, and boost brain function.
What is Jicama?
While it may have 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.
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.
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!
Now, let’s explore the nutritional elements that make jicama so important for the diet of various cultures around the world.
|Serving Size :|
|Total lipid (fat) [g]||0.09|
|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|
|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|
|Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]||0.01|
|Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]||0.04|
|Aspartic acid [g]||0.2|
|Glutamic acid [g]||0.04|
|Sources include : USDA|
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!
Health Benefits of Jicama
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. Furthermore, it 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. Multiple research suggests that increasing your intake of inulin-rich vegetables can positively impact your digestion and eating habits. These vegetables help improve the balance of beneficial gut bacteria, which can lead to feeling fuller, reduced cravings for sweet, salty, and fatty foods, and an improved liking for these veggies.
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 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. Furthermore, findings of a recent study conducted in 2022, established the immune modulation properties of jicama.
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. A study from the University of Alabama suggests that increased dietary potassium combined with reduced sodium intake may lead to improved heart health and stroke prevention. Potassium also aids in maintaining fluid balance within the body, ensuring proper hydration and overall functioning.
It 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.
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.
Moreover, jicama serves as a natural source of nitrate, which research suggests improves circulation and exercise performance. In a study, consumption of jicama juice has been associated with reduced blood clot risk.
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, improved circulation, and potential blood clot prevention.
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 has the ability to 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. Studies suggest that it may increase insulin sensitivity and reduce post-meal blood glucose levels, making it beneficial for individuals looking to manage their weight.
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, a 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. These findings highlight the potential of jicama as a valuable addition to diets aimed at addressing insulin resistance and blood sugar control.
Might Improve Brain Function
Vitamin B6 has been linked to preserving your brain’s health and increasing 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.
Word 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 may be a healthy choice that can bring you a number of benefits!