Jicama, also known as the Mexican yam bean, is a starchy root vegetable native to Mexico but enjoyed in many different cultures. It has a sweet, mild flavor and a crisp texture that makes it appealing for salads, tacos, and more. Many people are now interested in jicama for its potential health benefits.
This guide examines the nutritional value of jicama and explains if it is a healthy addition to your diet. It also suggests how jicama could be integrated into your meals as part of an overall balanced diet. Let’s take a look at what makes jicama good for you and how you can get the most out of this delicious food!
Nutritional Profile of Jicama
Jicama is a nutrient-dense vegetable that is low in calories and high in fiber and antioxidants. It is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, and it also contains plenty of beneficial plant compounds.
This article will discuss the nutritional profile of jicama and the potential health benefits it can offer.
Calories, Carbs, and Fiber
Jicama, also known as Mexican Yam Bean, is an edible root vegetable that grows in tropical climates. Jicama packs a large amount of nutrients into its small size, making it a popular choice for people looking to stay healthy while eating delicious foods.
When it comes to calories and nutrients in jicama, one cup of raw jicama contains 46 calories, 11 grams of carbohydrates and 6 grams of dietary fiber. Carbohydrates provide energy and fiber helps lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar levels. The low-calorie count is part of what makes jicama such a popular snack food or veggie side dish.
In addition to its low-calorie content, jicama packs important vitamins and minerals into each serving. One cup of raw jicama contains:
- 10 percent of the daily value for vitamin C, which supports the immune system, dental health and bones;
- 8 percent for potassium – which helps maintain normal blood pressure;
- 5 percent for magnesium – which supports heart health;
- 4 percent for manganese – which aids in carbohydrate metabolism;
- 3 percent for vitamin B6 – which aids in red blood cell formation;
- 2 percent for folate – an important nutrient during pregnancy;
- 1 percent of the daily value each for riboflavin and thiamin – essential B-vitamins that support energy production.
Vitamins and Minerals
Jicama is packed with vitamins and minerals, making it a great addition to your diet. One cup of jicama, about 130 g, contains (1):
- Vitamin C: Because of its vitamin C content, jicama can help support your immune system. The same amount provides 26% of the daily value (DV).
- Potassium: Essential for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart health. Jicama offers 11% DV in a single cup.
- Copper: Copper helps keep bones and nerve cells healthy. You’ll get 4% DV per serving of jicama.
- Folate: Folate, or vitamin B9 is beneficial for fetal development in pregnant mothers and brain health in general. Jicama provides 4% DV for folate in each cup.
- Magnesium: Magnesium helps regulate muscle functioning and helps maintain a healthy heart rate. Jicama contains 3% DV per serving.
- Vitamins B1, B2 and B5: These nutrients play an important role in energy production, metabolism, red blood cell production and more (2). A single serving of jicama supplies 5-7% DV for these B vitamins combined.
Health Benefits of Jicama
Jicama is a tuberous root vegetable that is high in fiber and contains a good amount of vitamins and minerals. It has a sweet and crunchy texture that is often consumed raw, as well as used as an ingredient in a variety of dishes. Due to its nutritional content, jicama has numerous health benefits. These will be explored in detail here.
Improves Digestive Health
Jicama offers many health benefits and is especially known for promoting digestive health. This root vegetable is an excellent source of dietary fiber, both soluble and insoluble.
- Soluble fibers are beneficial for lowering cholesterol levels, while insoluble fibers help in improving the digestive tract’s health.
- Moreover, jicama contains high levels of non-digestible oligosaccharides that help in reducing occasional constipation.
- Additionally, it contains special microbiota called oligofructose-enriched inulin that provides food to probiotic bacteria present in the gut, helping to ensure a healthy microbiome.
Eating jicama regularly can help your body get rid of toxins and waste products more quickly and efficiently.
Regulates Blood Sugar
Jicama is a nutrient-packed root vegetable that has been part of many cultures’ diets for centuries. In addition to being low in calories and packed with essential vitamins and minerals, jicama also offers health benefits such as regulating blood sugar and improving digestive health.
Jicama contains a type of starch called jicama polysaccharide, which has been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels. By slowing down the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream, jicama helps reduce the risk of hypoglycemia and other diabetes-related complications. Additionally, because jicama’s glycemic index is low (23), it can help minimize risks associated with high GI foods such as spikes in blood sugar levels after meals.
In addition to its blood sugar regulating effects, jicama is also high in dietary fiber. This soluble fiber helps keep your digestive tract running smoothly by trapping food particles and toxins and removing them from your body via stool. Fiber also adds bulk to your stool, which helps you pass waste more efficiently and can even help relieve constipation or other digestive disorders. As if that weren’t enough, fiber can also help lower cholesterol levels by absorbing cholesterol before it gets absorbed into your bloodstream.
Aids in Weight Loss
As a healthy, low-calorie vegetable, jicama is the perfect addition to any balanced diet that supports weight loss. It provides 38 calories per half cup (100 grams) and is composed of complex carbohydrates that are converted into energy for your body’s systems. Additionally, the dietary fiber content of jicama helps to provide volume and bulk to meals, stimulating your gastrointestinal tract to stay in a satiated state for longer periods of time. This can help in moderating your overall calorie intake while keeping you full.
Jicama also contains pectin – a soluble dietary fiber – which has been found in numerous studies to be beneficial for reducing unhealthy LDL cholesterol levels in individuals with higher than normal levels. Furthermore, the dietary fiber content of jicama helps increase satiety which may reduce or eliminate sugar cravings during meals which helps keep an individual’s sugar intake low while still permitting them some satisfaction from their meals.
Lastly, jicama is an excellent source of potassium – with 92 milligrams per serving (50g). Potassium has been found to reduce fluid retention, helping individuals shed unnecessary water weight quickly and efficiently!
Potential Risks and Side Effects
Jicama is a root vegetable which is high in dietary fiber, calcium, and vitamin C. While it can offer many health benefits, it can also have some potential risks and side effects associated with it.
In this section, let’s take a closer look at the possible risks and side effects of consuming jicama:
Allergic reactions to jicama are rare, but have been reported. Some people may experience an itchy mouth and tongue after eating jicama or when touched. Reactions may also include swelling of the tongue, lips, and throat with difficulty in breathing. If any of these symptoms occur after eating jicama, seek medical help immediately and avoid consuming jicama again.
Individuals with allergies to other fruits or vegetables within the legume family (e.g. peanuts) may be at an increased risk for a reaction and should speak with their physician before consuming jicama.
Interactions with Medications
When eaten in moderation as part of a healthy diet, jicama may provide some health benefits. However, people who take certain medications should be aware that jicama can interact with some drugs and increase the risk of side effects.
For those taking blood thinners, like warfarin (Coumadin), jicama may affect the effectiveness of the medication. Additionally, jicama contains vitamin K, which can lower blood sugar levels and interfere with insulin regulation. It is important to speak to your doctor before adding large amounts of jicama to your diet if you are taking any type of medication.
Jicama also contains oxalates which may lead to kidney stones in some individuals. Those who already have kidney or gallbladder issues should talk to their doctor about the potential risks associated with eating too much jicama. Additionally, it is not recommended for pregnant women or nursing mothers due to its high fiber content.
How to Include Jicama in Your Diet
Jicama is a tuber vegetable native to Mexico and Central and South America. It is becoming increasingly popular for its crunchy texture, mild flavor, and wide variety of potential health benefits. In this article, we will discuss how to include jicama in your diet to take advantage of its nutritional value.
Adding jicama to salads is a great way to get some of its nutrition and crunchy texture. This tuber is particularly good in fresh, summery green salads, adding a light sweetness that complements a hint of acidity like vinegar or lemon juice. The bright white flesh contrasts wonderfully with the dark greens and tomatoes, making your salads look more attractive. Since it’s very low in calories, jicama salad can also help make your recipes lighter without compromising flavor or texture.
To dress it up even more, sprinkle some lime juice and zest on top along with cilantro leaves or finely chopped scallions. Keep in mind that jicama will turn brown on contact with air after cutting it, so use it quickly for the best results.
Jicama is an incredibly versatile vegetable. Its crunch and subtle sweetness make it perfect for adding flavor to savory dishes and salads. One of the best ways to incorporate jicama into your diet is in the form of flavorful salsas. Jicama’s slightly sweet taste pairs nicely with spicy peppers, acidic fruits, tomatoes, cilantro, and other ingredients to create delicious recipes. There are countless variations when it comes to creating salsas with jicama, so feel free to experiment until you find the flavor combination that best suits your taste buds.
You can make basic salsa with jicama by dicing a cup of peeled jicama, combining it with one diced tomato, ½ cup of chopped onion, one seeded jalapeno pepper finely chopped (remove seeds to reduce spiciness), two tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime juice, a teaspoon or two of sugar or honey (to taste), and ¼ teaspoon each sea salt and black pepper (to taste). Mix together until combined then serve over cooked fish or chicken.
Or try making a fresh fruit salsa by combining:
- 1 cup small cubes peeled jicama
- One diced mango or peach
- ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- ⅛ teaspoon ground pepper
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Add chopped avocado if desired. Serve immediately as a topping for grilled fish tacos or as dip for nachos is another great way to enjoy this tasty veggie!
Jicama can make an excellent addition to your stir-fry. Both the leaves and flesh of jicama taste great when cooked with meat or vegetables in a stir-fry. The leaves can be mixed in with the rest of the vegetables or skipped altogether depending on your preferences. The white flesh of jicama, which tastes similar to a potato crisp, absorbs the flavors from the stir-fry sauce and provides additional nutrition. You can add jicama to most stir-fries without changing any other ingredients; it pairs nicely with beef, chicken, pork, shrimp and vegetables like carrots, bok choy, mushrooms and bell pepper. Jicama also works well in combination with noodles or grains such as quinoa and brown rice.
To get started with including jicama in your stir-fries, try this quick recipe:
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup diced jicama
- 1/2 pound lean steak cut into strips
- 1 red bell pepper sliced into thin strips
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 2 cups cooked quinoa or brown rice for serving (optional)
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add jicama and steak and cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes per side. Add bell pepper strips and garlic to pan and cook until peppers are soft and tender, about 3 minutes more. Pour soy sauce over mixture then sprinkle with ginger; reduce heat to low and simmer for 5 minutes more. Serve over cooked quinoa or brown rice if desired. Enjoy!
Roasted jicama is a delicious way to enjoy this crunchy vegetable. To roast it, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, peel and cut the jicama into small cubes and place in a shallow baking dish. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil and add your favorite herbs or spices. Roast for 25 minutes or until the jicama cube edges begin to brown slightly.
Use roasted jicama as an anytime snack or as part of main dishes like tacos. You can also add them to composed salads, stir-fries or eat as a side dish on its own. Roasted jicama will retain its shape and texture, so be sure not to overcook it! The sweetness from roasting enhances the natural flavors of this root vegetable making it an excellent addition to your menu.
While jicama is a great addition to anyone’s diet, it shouldn’t replace other healthy foods that provide essential vitamins and minerals. While jicama contains some vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, it doesn’t have nearly as much nutritionally as other more nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables.
In conclusion, while jicama has many health benefits, it shouldn’t be eaten in lieu of other fruits, vegetables and whole grains that are richer in nutrients than jicama. Eating whole, nutrient-dense foods provides all the vitamins and minerals we need more reliably than foods with less of these important nutrients. Keep eating those apples and spinach – they provide more nutrition after all!