What is Jicama?
Jicama is around bulbous vegetable that was initially grown in the Mexican peninsula.
This vegetation is widely known for its extensive health benefits. It is commonly used in the Caribbean and South Asia regions.
The jicama root is what is consumed and not the stem, leaves or seeds.
It is a part of the legumes family, and it grows on vines.
Jicama thrives in warm climates and as a result, is currently grown on commercial scale in Central America, and parts of South Asia.
Jicama is similar in texture to the turnip and has a taste closer to that of apples.
It has a crisp white solid flesh that is similar to that of a potato on the inside.
It is usually referred to as Mexican yam because of the white stable crisp structure.
However, unlike the yams that are edible with their peels, the jicama has a skin that is very unappealing, thick, tough and highly toxic.
The surface of the jicama vegetable is not edible at all and must be removed before consumption.
When shopping for jicama at the supermarket or your local grocery store, look for firm round tubers. Store your jicamas in a cool dark place for them to last.
When stored correctly, they can last for up to 4 weeks in the usable state.
You can also store them in the refrigerator once you have cut them.
However, storing them for too long may lead to the conversion of the starch to sugar.
They are washed just like potatoes before peeling off.
First, slice off the top and the bottom then remove the remaining skin in facets using a sturdy paring knife.
Once you have removed the skin, you can chop it into slices either cubical, round or rectangular depending on your choice.
Chopped Jicama can be served together with stir-fries, soup, salad and other veggies.
It can be taken raw or cooked. One of the favorite jicama recipes is the Chilled jicama slices sprinkled with chili, lime juice, and salt.
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Nutritional Content Of Jicama
The main reason why most people use or know about jicama is due to its nutritional benefits.
The veggie is used to treat various health conditions and boost the overall body function.
Here are the primary nutritional compositions of the jicama that makes it so useful to your health.
Mineral Content of Jicama
One cup of well-sliced jicama contains approximately 0.8mg of iron.
Nutritionally, a man needs 8mg of iron per day.
This vegetable alone can supply up to 10% of your daily iron needs.
Iron promotes bodily functions such as energy production and plays a significant role in the production of red blood cells.
The other minerals contained in jicama include potassium- which is necessary for heart function and zinc which helps in repairing worn out tissues.
How many vitamins does Jicama have?
Similarly, a cup of sliced jicama can supply up to 26.3 milligrams of Vitamin C.
That is almost 35 percent of the daily vitamin C requirement for women and 29 percent for men.
Nutritionally, a woman is required to consume 75 milligrams of Vitamin C per day while a man needs 90 Milligrams of the same.
Vitamin C is necessary for the formation of the proteins required for a healthy skin, ligaments, tendons and blood vessels.
They also promote the normal healing of wounds and protects cells from damage.
Jicama also contains some amounts of vitamin A and E as well as folate.
How much fiber is in Jicama?
Jicama in the stated amounts will supply 6.4 grams of fiber.
Women need 25 grams of fiber per day while their male counterparts require 38 milligrams of the same.
Using the jicama fruit will help you get the necessary supply of fiber by up to 25 percent for women and 17 percent for men.
It goes without mentioning that fiber is very important for your digestive system.
When you take the required amounts of fiber each day, you get your system to function correctly and as a result, cut your risk of certain diseases including heart disease.
Jicama also contains a particular kind of fiber known as inulin- which is soluble and promotes gut health.
According to a publication in the European Journal of Clinical
Health, the presence of inulin is critical for the proper functioning of the gut.
What are Jicama Recipes
All the nutritional benefits of jicama can be obtained when you consume it either raw or cooked.
The good news is that you can actually cook with jicama.
Just shred your jicama into a green salad or any other recipe.
You can also boil the jicama cubes with potatoes and puree them together with milk for a fiber-rich mash potatoes meal.
History of Jicama
The vegetation is mainly grown in Central America and South America.
Jicama is grown only for the inside flesh part. The other parts of the plant including the skin, the leaves, and the stem are highly toxic to humans.
It is a root of a given bean plant and therefore is a member of the legumes family.
It belongs to a legume family known as Fabaceae. The veggie is sometimes referred to as the Mexican turnip or the yam bean.
The use of jicama initially was in South and Central America.
It spread from Mexico to South Pacific in the middle ages.
The jicama was first exported to the other parts of America by Spanish explorers who carried it on their voyages.
Today, it is commonly used in the Philippines, Vietnam, China, Malaysia and South Asia.
It is widely used to pickle in rice vinegar in the Philippines. It is also used to make shrimp paste and is sometimes blended into fruit bars and fruit salads.
In Vietnam, the jicama is also used to bake and sweetened to be used in a pie.
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Health Benefits of Jicama
Helps In Weight Loss and Blood Sugar Control
Jicama is a vegetable that is high in fiber and also has a low glycemic index.
It is good for you if you are struggling to balance your blood sugar.
It is beneficial for individuals who are suffering from diabetes as well as those who are working on losing weight.
High fiber consumption reduces the impact of sugars obtained from carbohydrates on your blood sugar balance.
Such high fiber veggies are therefore essential for your health to help you manage your weight, hormones, blood sugar and hence your food cravings.
In different studies, jicama extracts have proved to have the inhibiting effect on factors that affect the blood sugar levels such as postprandial hyperglycemia.
The research carried out in the US on rats showed that the sugar levels of diabetic rats that received the jicama extract was more suppressed as compared to those that did not obtain the extract.
The digestion of fiber foods helps in expanding your stomach and absorption of water hence giving you a feeling of a full stomach.
This helps reduce your food intake hence decreasing your calorie intake at large.
Great Source of Prebiotic Fibers
Despite the fact that jicama is a root veggie, it is low in starch sugars as compared to other vegetables.
The fact that it is also high in fiber sets it apart from the other veggies.
It provides up to 25 percent of your daily fiber needs just in a single cup serving.
The fiber contained within jicama holds very beneficial prebiotic fructan carbohydrate known as oligofructose inulin.
The upside of this inulin is that it is indigestible within the human digestive system.
It, therefore, ferments in the gut when consumed. It holds zero calories and provides various benefits to the digestive system.
As a result, your entire body including your immune system is boosted by the consumption of jicama.
Once the inulin reaches the intestines, it acts like a prebiotic. This means that it helps the bacterial action within your body to attain maximum food processing within the organization.
The inulin fructans are usually found in plant roots such as jicama or chicory.
When consumed, the fructans reside in the gut and hence fermenting.
This leads to the production of a higher amount of bacteria such as bifidobacteria that is crucial for your gut system.
When the bacteria thrive, they lead to the production of compounds called butyrates, lactic acid, and SCFAs.
Research further suggests that the inulin-type of fructans hold anti-carcinogenic properties.
They help stimulate the immune system as well as improve digestion and help balance the body hormones.
Jicama Nutrition Value
Being a rich source of prebiotics, jicama has a unique fiber that helps the balance of molecules and hence the growth of good to harmful microbes in the intestines.
The most significant part of the immune system- actually 75 percent, is stored within the GI tract.
It, therefore, follows that your body’s immune is mostly dependant on balance between the bacteria populating your body.
In a study conducted in 2005 as published in the British Journal of Nutrition, probiotic foods that contain inulin fructans hold vital chemoprotective properties.
They can lower the risks of one getting colon cancer.
They merely work by reducing tumor growth, fighting the impact of toxins in the gut, and reducing metastasizing(Spread).
The researchers found that the inulin fructans caused a significant reduction in tumors in the colon of rats and mice when they were administered with prebiotics.
It is believed in the medical field that the prebiotics help in fighting cancer due to the gut fermentation and production of butyrate.
Most of us do not have enough prebiotics.
You can start working on your health by taking jicama as a regular part of your diet to help reduce the chances of tumor growth and cell mutation.
Jicama Benefits Heart Health
Heart problems are among the most common in the world today.
Most of the heart conditions are usually related to lifestyle and eating patterns. Jicama can help reduce heart issue.
Just like other veggies, jicama has high water content and nutrient density.
The Oligofructose insulin which makes up a large part of the Jicama fiber has been linked to cardiovascular health improvements.
It holds the ability to lower cholesterol naturally; as we all know, cholesterol is not suitable for your heart.
Besides the Oligofructose, any diet that is high in fiber is also capable of improving the overall arterial health by reducing inflammation.
This helps in reducing some chronic heart conditions like blood pressure, high cholesterol, metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
The other essential nutrients found in jicama that help improve heart health include vitamin C and anti-inflammatory and potassium which is vital in controlling blood sugar levels.
Great for Digestion
It is common knowledge that fiber is right for your digestive system.
A properly functioning digestive system, on the other hand, promotes the overall health of the body.
Jicama is rich in water and fiber. If you are battling digestive conditions, the use of jicama will help you gain essential electrolytes and nutrients that promote intestinal health.
The high fiber content of jicama can easily reduce constipation while its high water capacity can help ease digestion.
It has been used to treat constipation and diarrhea.
Since it holds anti-inflammation properties, jicama can help reduce flare-ups in the GI tract for individuals with ulcers, autoimmune, digestive disorders and leaky gut syndrome.
High in Antioxidants
Antioxidants are essential for your body. Jicama can be termed as an excellent source of vitamins and antioxidants.
The veggie is rich in vitamin C. One cup of jicama can supply up to 40 percent of your daily intake of vitamin C.
Being an antioxidant, vitamin C is significant for the controlling inflammation.
As a result, reducing oxidative stress levels.
This will help protect you against growth tumors, cardiovascular diseases, and autoimmune diseases.
Supports Bone Health
The bone health is very critical and should be treated as so.
Unfortunately, we take little concern about our bones since we never see them.
The oligofructose inulin within jicama is very important in keeping bones healthy.
It helps retain minerals, assists in the absorption of calcium and reduces the turnover rate of bone loss.
Jicama helps supply essential minerals to the bones such as magnesium, potassium, and manganese.
These minerals are needed for the bone mineralization and protecting against bone loss.
It is recommended that jicama should be added to osteoporosis diet.
If you are suffering from this condition or you are a caregiver of such a patient, ensure you add jicama to your mills.
Jicama flesh is white — will it brown quickly?
Jicama does not discolor as you may expect it to.
You can rub it with lemon and store in acidulated water to obtain some color change.
If you are not going to use the whole cut pieces, you can store some in the fridge.
When you save jicama, always cut off any open ends that may have dried off.
Jicama is high when eaten raw, but there are plenty of other things you can do with it.
This includes boiling it on its own, cooking it with potatoes or carrot or serving it alongside other fruits and vegetables.
Jicama makes an excellent salsa.
This is a perfect match for tortilla chip or to top up a taco. Simply cut jicama into thin sticks and dice it up.
You can combine it with diced tomato, black beans or scallion and lime.
This will make a great tasty meal for the day.
The other option is to cut jicama into thin strips the size of matchsticks and make a slaw with some carrots, red cabbage, and avocado.
You can also tuck jicama matchsticks into a fresh spring roll.
Stir-fry the veggie for some crisp taste. Jicama stays firm when cooked for a brief moment.
This will help add some refreshing crunch.It tastes great when prepared with ginger, garlic, broccoli or cashew nuts.
What is the best way to eat jicama?
Everyone has their preferences.
One of my favorite ways of eating jicama is making jicama chips.
They are crunchy, sweet and tasty. Although the process of making jicama chips is very draining, it is equally rewarding.
You should only settle for making chips when you have some time on your hands
How to Make Jicama Chips
Prepare jicama slices of the size of your choice. However, it is advisable to have your slices less than 2mm in width.
Spread the slices over a tray and spread them with some olive oil. Depending on whether you like spices or not, you can add some spicing.
If you do not need any spices, just sprinkle some salt over.
Bake at 200F and keep on turning the slices at a 20-minute interval.
It will take approximately 90 to 100 minutes to obtain well-cooked chips.
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Side Effects of JIcama
The only edible portion of the jicama is the root.
This excludes the root skin, the stem, and the leaves.
This is designed to protect the plant from pests. The seed pods can be eaten while young.
When fully developed, they are also toxic.
To avoid any trouble, just stick to eating the root portion of the plant.
Eating the skin is also very dangerous so stay away from it.
Dietary Fiber Content
The dietary fiber contained within the vegetable is what provides for most of the health benefit of jicama.
However, the fiber also holds potential side effects.
The jicama as already stated can provide up to 6.4 grams of fiber per cup.
This means that it can supply up to 25 percent of the daily fiber intake for women and 17 percent of the daily fiber intake for men.
Some of the main side effects of dietary fiber include the reduction in blood pressure.
It may also prevent relief constipation.
This means that taking too much fiber quickly may cause digestive problems.
Some of the effects of too much fiber on digestion may include stomach ache and constipation when dietary fiber intake is increased abruptly.
To avoid being a victim of these side effects, increase your fiber intake gradually.
If you are going to start using jicama for the first time, start off with just a single cup on the first day.
There are no risks or any side effects of eating raw jicama.
The veggie can be eaten raw as long as the top skin has been removed.
When cooking, the fruit should not be overcooked.
Jicama is used as a substitute for water chestnut in some Asian culinary.
This is because it holds crisp texture and does not turn its color when exposed to air.
Jicama is rich in vitamins C, A, and E. The veggie is also rich in dietary fiber and plenty of water.
Jicama has been used for health purposes since time in memorial.
The veggie is used primarily in Central and South America and some parts of Asia.
The jicama is helpful in various ways including the ability to streamline the digestive system.
It also holds anti-inflammation properties which make it suitable for the heart.
It is also beneficial in controlling blood sugars and helps in weight loss.
For this reason, the veggie is widely prevalent.
Jicama can be eaten in raw and cooked form.
The root part of the plant is the only edible part of jicama.
When eating jicama, avoid eating the stem, leaves or the skin of the fruit.
The stem and the skim may be toxic to you.
You can serve jicama alongside other meals including vegetable salads, or you can fry it to make jicama chips.