A traditional Mexican root vegetable, the jicama is relatively unknown in the rest of North America. Recently it has begun making seasonal appearances in supermarkets around the world. It has an extremely long shelf life, can be eaten raw, and tastes as sweet as an apple, with a very similar texture. Other varieties abound throughout the world (in Vietnam it is grown for desserts, in the Philippines it is used in salads), but the Mexican variety has the sweetest flavor and juice, and is not surprisingly is becoming quite popular. It is especially gaining popularity as a new and interesting healthy snack option. When chopped up into bite size fingers, children especially enjoy it, and it makes a great addition to juices.
Basic Nutritional Facts
A healthy and delicious snack fit for any lunch box, jicama root is packed full of important vitamins and minerals, prebiotics and fiber. In a one cup serving of jicama you will find:
- 40% of your daily vitamin C
- 5% of your daily potassium (roughly 190 mg)
- 4% of your daily manganese, iron, magnesium and folate acid
- 6 grams of fiber
- Less than 50 calories
- 0% fat
- 2 grams of sugar
The Juicy Health Benefits of Jicama
Just because something is delicious does not mean it is also nutritious. Thankfully, this is not the case with jicama. It has been a vital food staple for thousands of years all over the world, and in various forms. Its packed full of important nutrients that are often difficult to source from other foods, plus because it is so similar to apples, it is easy to add into non-traditional recipes.
Blood Sugar Control
Jicama root registers extremely low on the glycemic index, and has tons of important dietary fiber. For anyone who is currently managing their blood sugar levels or managing their diabetes, jicama is a great addition. There have also been specific studies of jicama extract on blood sugar levels in laboratory mice. The results found that when one set of diabetic mice was given jicama extract, they showed significant improvement in their various blood sugar indicators when compared to the control group. On top of this, jicama contains high concentrations of dietary fibers which have been proven to fight obesity and high blood sugar levels.
Prebiotics are just as important as probiotic fibers by basically paving the way for a healthy gastrointestinal ecosystem. Jicama root contains extremely high levels of fiber, roughly 25% of your daily requirement for fiber is found in only one cup of jicama. In this vital fiber, there are prebiotic compounds called fructan carbohydrates. Interestingly, this substance doesn’t digest like most other foods, and remains within the digestive tract, fermenting over time. This process increases the presence of beneficial microbes and creates a flourishing microbial environment for healthy bacteria like probiotics.
Your immune system is intrinsically tied to the health of your gastrointestinal system. This means that the healthier your stomach, and the flora that live within it, the better off you are when trying to fight sickness. Research has found that foods that have a high inulin fructan levels, like jicama, actually have chemo-protective abilities. They are able to offer protection against some forms of cancers by preventing the development of new cancer cells, and fighting previously existing tumors in the stomachs of rats and mice.
Not surprisingly, because jicama supports a healthy microflora population within the digestive tract, it also supports digestive health. It is extremely high in water and fiber content, making it easy to digest, even for sensitive systems. Through its water and fiber content, it can help alleviate digestive issues such as diarrhea and constipation. Plus, there is evidence suggesting that jicama could also be an anti-inflammatory, a bonus for anyone suffering with irritable bowel syndrome!
Because jicama has relatively high levels of iron and copper, at least in comparisons to other foods, it helps support a strong circulatory system by way of red blood cell production. When the blood is properly supported with trace minerals, it allows for proper oxygenation throughout the circulatory system and proper functioning of the vital organs.
Some Jicama Recipe Inspiration!
Cool Mexican Jicama Appetizer
Commonly served throughout Mexico as a deliciously cool appetizer, this is simple and easy to recreate with only three ingredients! One of the healthiest ways to eat jicama root.
1 – medium jicama root, peeled and cut into finger sized pieces.
1 – lime, cut into wedges.
2 tbsp. – chili powder
Possibly the easiest recipe ever, simply arrange the cut jicama pieces on a plate, sprinkle with chili powder to taste, and squeeze fresh lime juice over top.
Spicy Jicama Salad
A great dish to serve at a potluck, or summer barbeque. It is a great side to a grilled main dish, and you will be sure to impress with this interesting tropical salad (adapted from Simply Recipes).
1 – large jicama root, peeled and julienned
3 – bell peppers of various colors, finely julienned
½ C – red onion, thinly sliced
1 – orange, peeled and sliced into small pieces
½ C – fresh cilantro leaves
⅓ C – lime juice
1 tsp. – cayenne
1 tsp. – paprika
Pinch of Salt
Combine all vegetables in a large serving bowl. Toss with lime juice, cilantro and spices to coat. Serve cold.