Jicama is a low-fat, low-calorie root vegetable originating from Mexico. It is rich in fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants. According to early studies, it may help digestion, heart health, blood sugar, and metabolism; learn more about its potential benefits here. What Is Jicama?
Jicama (pronounced hee-kah-mah or hick-ah-mah ) is a tuberous root vegetable, with golden-brown skin and a starchy white interior. It is also known as Yam bean , Mexican potato , or bengkoak and belongs to the Pachyrhizus tropical plant family [ 1 , 2 ].
Jicama originates from Mexico but has spread to Central America, Philippines, China, Malaysia and Southeast Asia [ 3 ].
Jicama is a food full of nutrients and low in calories. It contains some immune-stimulating proteins ( albumins , globulins ) but seems to be low in lectins [ 4 , 5 ].
Another major benefit is its low glycemic score. This makes it a great dietary choice for people with diabetes. It is also high in fibers that aid in digestion and promote gut health. Plus, it is packed with essential nutrients – such as vitamin C , potassium and magnesium – that lower oxidative stress and fight inflammation [ 6 , 7 ].
And unlike most tubers, it can be eaten raw. Alternatively, cook it for flavor with your favorite spices. It’s extremely versatile and can be prepared in vegan , paleo, and keto recipes [ 8 , 9 , 10 ].
But beware! Its seeds, stems, leaves, and skin are toxic . Only the white inside flesh is edible [ 8 , 9 , 10 ]. Snapshot
Here is an overview of the health benefits and risks of jicama [ 1 , 2 , 11 , 12 , 13 ]: Proponents:
High nutritional value
Rich in antioxidants and fiber
Possible benefits to digestion, immunity, heart function, and blood sugar
Seeds, stems, leaves, and skin are toxic
Jicama’s nutrient profile (100gr) and recommended daily intake (RDI) based on a 2000 calories diet [ 14 , 15 , 16 , 7 , 17 ]: Calories
Jicama is composed of around 90% water, so it’s naturally low in calories . A serving cup of jicama (100 gr) contains only 38 calories and has a low glycemic index, making it ideal for weight loss and people with diabetes [ 14 , 18 ]. Carbohydrates
Jicama (100 gr) contains 8.82 g of carbohydrates from which 4.9 g is fiber and 1.8 g sugar, whereas the starch accounts for 2.2 g. This makes jicama a low-carb vegetable, keto- and paleo-friendly [ 7 , 19 ].
Furthermore, a reasonable 200g of jicama makes up for 26% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) for fiber for men and 40% for women (based on a 2,000 calories diet) [ 7 , 19 ]. Fats
Jicama is a low-fat food, providing less than 0.1 gram per 100gr [ 7 , 14 ]. Proteins
The proteins in jicama are low, only 0.72 g in 100 g. This is half the amount in regular potatoes, but double the amount in sweet potatoes. Jicama also contains amino acids, such as alanine, aspartic acid , lysine , histidine , leucine , and glutamine [ 20 , 21 ]. Nutrients
Jicama is a good source of vitamin C . Just 200g would provide you with almost 70% of the recommended daily intake. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that lowers the risk of many chronic diseases. Keep in mind that cooking jicama will lower its vitamin C levels, though [ 3 , 22 ].
Other vitamins include folate , riboflavin (V2) , vitamin B6 , vitamin E , niacin , and thiamine . About 200g of jicama would provide you with only up to 6% of your daily needs of these vitamins, which might not be high enough to have a significant health effect [ 3 ].
But 300g of the root will provide you with ~12% of your daily potassium and 9% of your daily magnesium requirements – pretty good for a low-calorie tuber [ 7 , 23 , 24 ]! Antioxidant Activity
Jicama is high in antioxidants, especially vitamin C . As mentioned, 300g of jicama will cover your daily needs – if you eat it raw. Small amounts of other compounds – potassium , magnesium , vitamin E , folate and selenium , flavonoids, and choline – add to its antioxidant effect [ 3 , 25 ].
Altogether, these nutrients lower oxidative stress , prevent cell damage and fight inflammation [ 26 , 27 , 28 , 29 , 30 , 31 ].Diets rich in antioxidants are associated with lower rates of many diseases, including cancer, obesity, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease [ 32 , 33 , 34 , 35 ]. Potential Benefits of Jicama The following purported benefits are only supported by limited, low-quality clinical studies. There is insufficient evidence to support the use of jicama for any of the uses discussed below. Jicama is considered safe to eat as food, but it has not been approved by the FDA for medical use, and it should never be used to replace something your doctor recommends or prescribes. 1) Gut Flora Jicama contains significant quantities of a fiber called inulin , which is also responsible for its sweet flavor [ 36 , 7 ]. Inulin acts as a prebiotic that feeds the good gut bacteria (such as Bifidobacteria ). In turn, it may boost gut health and improve IBD and IBS symptoms, such as stomach pain and bloating [ 12 , 37 , 38 , 39 , 40 , 41 , 42 ].Thanks to its inulin content, jicama could potentially also aid in digestion. In clinical studies with over 300 adults and children with constipation, inulin improved bowel movements and stool consistency [ 43 , 44 , 45 , 46 ].Note that this benefit has only observed with inulin itself; no studies of whole jicama have investigated its effect on gut flora and gut health. 2) […]