Health benefits of jicama can be attributed to its strong supplies of fibers, vitamin C and other minearals. Jicama helps in reducing weight, maintaining digestive system and metabolism. Jicama also helps increase immunity, improve circulatory system and nervous system. More health benefits of Jicama are discussed further.
Jicama is also known as Yambean (Pachyrhizus erosus, or P. tuberosus), Mexican potato, Mexican yam or Mexican turnip. It is known by various names across countries – Bengkoang (Indonesia), singkamas (Philippines), ây củ đậu or củ sắn (Vietnam) dòushǔ(豆薯) or liáng shǔ (涼薯) (China) shankhalu or couch potato (Bengali) and mishrikand (Hindi). Jicama is twining plant with large edible roots and pods. It is common in countries with warm climates, such as Central America, Southern Asia, Andes Mountain region etc, where it is very important and versatile food source.
Jicama has been traditionally found in diet and has other medical benefits. Jicama root is the most edible part of the plant. Jicama root found in market are around 1-2 kg in weight, but the root can grow up to 6 meter long and up to 20 kg in weight. This root vegetable looks very much like turnip and has thick brown skin. It can be eaten raw and it is often found in salads.
Jicama vine is vigorous spreading, bushy with heart-shaped leaves and blue or white flowers and produces lima bean like pods when fully developed. Jicama is easy to cultivate and requires warm and dry climate. The vine has natural insecticidal properties with presence of Rotenoids. Like potatoes, jicama can be harvested at any time during root development although miniature roots have tender skin. Jicama or Yambean tuber is considered good source of starch. Yam bean starch has functional properties similar to cassava starch which is commercially used.
Culinary uses of Jicama
Jicamas root is very much similar to potato in taste as well as ways of eating. It can be used cubed, chopped, sliced into fine sticks, raw or cooked, for salads, soups, and with other vegetables and fruits. It can be prepared any way in which potato can, but can also be eaten raw or boiled. The root is yellowish outside but creamy white inside. It tastes sweet. It is usually eaten raw with salt, lemon and other seasoning.
Nutritional Value of Jicama
Raw Jicama is considered both filling and nutritious, which makes it an ideal food for weight loss diet. 100 grams of Jicama provides about 40 calories, mostly from carbohydrates. Jicama are rich in dietary fibers (around 5% by weight). Raw Jicama is rich source of vitamin C. 100 grams of Jicama provides around one third of daily dietary requirement of vitamin C. Other vitamins present in small quantities (1-3% of dietary value per 100 gram) in Jicama are Vitamin E, Folate, Riboflavin, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6 and Niacin.
The vegetable is deficient in required proteins in comparison to WHO recommended amino acid profile. The tuber is potential source of nearly all minerals like potassium, Manganese, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, copper, zinc and others. This makes it good fasting food.
Health benefits of Jicama
Jicama is rich source of dietary fibers
Jicama is rich source of dietary fibers. A 100 gram serving can suffice one fifth of daily requirement of dietary fibers. Dietary fibers are essential for digestion process and smooth bowel movements. Dietary fibers help removal of toxins and harmful substances from body.
Jicama and weight loss
Jicama are low in calories, provides only 38 calories per 100g. Further dietary fibers content in Yambean makes it filling in nature and creates feeling of filled stomach and reduces cravings for food. Jicmaa contains soluble indigestible fiber – oligofructose inulin, which offers sweet taste to Jicama. Since this sweet fiber is not digested in body, it offers low glycemic index to Jicama. With low sodium and fat content, along with other essential vitamins and minerasl, Jicama is good food for maintenance of healthy weight.
Jicama a good diabetic food
Indigestible fiber – oligofructose inulin, responsible for sweetness to Jicama doesn’t impact blood sugar. Diabetic patients can enjoy this sweet Jicama without worrying about its impact on blood sugar
Anti-oxidant properties of Jicama
Jicama along with carbohydrates is good source of Vitamin C. A 100 gram serving can provide one third of daily requirement of vitamin C. Vitamin C has excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Health benefits of Jicama which can be attributed to Vitamin C are protection from free radicals, healthy heart and body organs, reduced infections.
Jicama hydrates body
Jicama has high moisture content which refreshes and hydrates your body. With proper balance of minerals, it is an electrolytic food good during diarrhoea. It helps in creating fluid balance in body.
Jicama for healthy skin
Vitamin C as a powerful antioxidant is responsible for healthy skin. It prevents skin infections, provides necessary collagen for growth of skin. It protects skin from microbial infections.
Jicama acts as good moisturizer for skin. Jicama is usually found in masks, scrubs, facial soaps, moisturizer, and lotion. Yam bean glycolic extract is used in skin and personal care. It is used in cosmetics as emollients and skin lightening. It is helpful in removing dead skin cells and heal scars. Bengkuang (Jicama) extract face mask is popular in Indonesia and is considered skin tonic. Research has shown that Yam bean contains isoflavones similar to soy extract which reduces aging of skin.
Yam bean starch is considered home remedy for prickly heat. Grate some Yam bean along with sweetpotato, add water and squeeze Coconut milk like starch out of the grated substance. Allowed this liquid to settle and filter out starch precipitate. This precipitate applied to skin cures prickly sweat.
Jicama increases immunity
Jicama is good source of vitamin C which helps in increasing immunity. Research has also suggested Jicama impacting immune function. Oligofructose inulin carbohydrate in Jicama is considered prebiotic in nature and promotes growth of health bacteria in colon and thus provides balanced immunity. It also promotes mineral absorption in body which promotes metabolism.
Jicama is good for heart
High fiber content in Jicama helps in blocking absorption of cholesterol in intestine, thus promotes healthy heart and reduces risk of heart disorders. With low sodium and high potassium, it helps in managing blood pressure and reduces stress on cardiovascular system. It contains minerals like copper and iron which also plays important role in maintaining cardio vascular health.
Jicama for healthy brain function
Jicama contains nutrients which promotes brain function and improves memory. Vitamin B6 is one such important nutrient present in Jicama.
Health Benefits from minerals in Jicama
Jicama provides healthy amounts of some important minerals like magnesium, copper, iron and manganese – all important trace minerals for our sustained health. Mineral of magnesium plays important role in body metabolism. Copper is required for iron absorption. It also protects body from free radicals and maintain the health of bones and connective tissues. Iron content in jicama is required for production of red blood cells in body. Manganese stimulates the development and activity of other enzymes.
Considering the supply of nutrients like manganese, magnesium, iron, and copper in Yambean, this root vegetable is good for bones. It shall make your bones strong and promote their growth.
Side effects of Jicama
Tough this root vegetable has loads of health benefits; the remaining plant is toxic due to presence of natural insecticide rotenone present. So be careful to avoid eating seed pods, leaves or vines.
Some Culinary advices and recipes
Select jicama which is firm and heavy for its size. Overly large jicama are likely to be woody and tough. Jicama can be stored whole and unwrapped in the refrigerator for several weeks. Chopped jicama is best to use for a day or two.
Peel a small jicama and slice it into thin strips. Cut 4 scallions into three pieces and then slice lengthwise to thin strips. Similarly peel and slice 2 carrots, 1 pepper, quarter red cabbage and 4 scallions. Mix and toss them in a bowl. In a separate bowl add some vinegar, lime juice, honey, chilli powder, cumin powder and freshly cracked black pepper. Add some Kosher salt as per taste. Add some virgin olive oil and mix the dressing. Toss the dressing with slaw and garnish with additional cilantro before serving. Chilled slaw tastes even better.
Peel and slice into thin pieces some 500 g of yam. Add about 2 cups of water, 1 tbsp vinegar, 2 tsp salt, 100 gram of sugar and some freshly ground red pepper. Mix well and stir until sugar is dissolved. You can add sugar and vinegar for right combination of sweet and sour taste. Store in refrigerator to allow yam absorb flavours.Image Credits: Wikimedia, Wikimedia