Chayote, also known as vegetable pear or Christophine is a green colored squash that is highly nutritious and a perfect addition to your diet. All parts of the chayote plant including the stem, leaves and fruits are high in different kinds of nutrients. It also has many medicinal properties that can be useful in the treatment of many health conditions like indigestion, hypertension, and kidney stones. Chayote can be consumed raw by adding them in salads or you can cook them along with meat or other vegetables. Although chayote is consumed as a vegetable, it is actually a fruit having the size and shape of a pear, hence the name vegetable pear.
Chayotes are popular in various countries and known by various names like cho-cho or chu-chu, merleton, cidra, Guatila, Centinarja, pipinola, choko, güisquil, chouchoute, labu siam, ishkus, pataste, tayota or sayote.
Nutritional value of Chayote
Chayote is a low calorie nutritious vegetable with high amounts of water. One cup of boiled squash provides you with about 38 calories of energy. It is low in saturated fat and contains no cholesterol. However, Chayote is a rich source of dietary fiber, which makes it an ideal food for those trying to lose their weight. Fiber is also helpful in controlling blood sugar levels and in keeping the heart healthy by lowering the levels of cholesterol. Chayote is a great fruit that provides you with many of the essential vitamins and minerals. It is a good source of vitamin C, folate, thiamin, riboflavin and pyridoxine. This fruit is low in sodium and high in potassium, which is good for maintaining normal blood pressure levels. It also contains other trace minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. In addition to the powerful antioxidant vitamin C, chayote also contains polyphenolic flavonoid antioxidants like luteolin and apigenin that help in destroying the harmful free radicals.
Health benefits of Vegetable pear
Although not very attractive or exotic in appearance, chayote offers numerous benefits that help in improving your overall health. Some of the health benefits of this fruit are explained below.
Chayote for healthy skin
Who doesn’t want healthy and beautiful looking skin? Did you know that you can easily get smooth and flawless skin by including chayote in your regular diet? Chayote contains good amounts of Folic folate, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and zinc, all of which help in promoting healthy skin. Vitamin C, being a strong antioxidant fights off the free radicals and thereby delays the process of aging. Zinc is effective in controlling the production of oil in the skin, as a result of which your skin is protected from acne. While vitamin E helps in protecting your skin and in repairing the damages to the skin, folate helps in increasing the elasticity and firmness of the skin.
Chayote gives you energy
Chayote is a good source of manganese that helps in converting fat and proteins into energy. So having this vegetable for breakfast can help kick start your day with good health and energy.
Chayote helps in preventing cancer
Chayote is an excellent source of Vitamin C, which is a very powerful antioxidant. Antioxidants are substances that help in preventing the damage caused to your cells by harmful free radicals. By preventing oxidation stress and mutation, these antioxidants may inhibit or even help in preventing the growth and development of cancer.
Chayote lowers blood pressure
Several people who have been suffering from high blood pressure claim that they have been benefited by consuming chayote. The high levels of potassium in this fruit help in balancing the effects of sodium, thus preventing hypertension.
Chayote is heart healthy
According to studies, the presence of excess amounts of homocystein in the blood is associated with an increased risk of stroke and heart disease. Chayote is a wonderful source of folate, a B group vitamin that helps in preventing the buildup of this amino acid. The potassium in chayote lowers blood pressure and magnesium helps in increasing the levels of good cholesterol, maintaining normal heart beats and also in preventing the clotting of blood.
Chayote prevents constipation
If you suffer from constipation, chayote is one food item that you would want to include in your diet as it promotes regular bowel movements. It contains high amounts of dietary fiber that prevents digestive issues like constipation and irritable bowel syndrome by drawing water in to the stools and softening them. This makes the easier removal of all the wastes from the digestive system.
Chayote is good for pregnant ladies
Folate is an important vitamin that is essential for the health of not only the expecting mother but also the fetus. When a woman is pregnant, the levels of folate in her body tend to decrease. Studies show that a deficiency of this vitamin can lead to many health problems in the baby such as neural tube defects, limb malformations, heart problems and other birth defects. Since chayote is a good source of folate, including it in the diet can help to prevent these conditions in the babies.
Chayote promotes weight loss
Chayote is a low calorie food that has no cholesterol or saturated fats. Being a good source of dietary fiber, it can be the perfect addition to any weight loss diet. The dietary fiber fills you up easily and so you feel fuller for a longer period of time. As your hunger is satiated, you restrain from overeating and frequent snacking, which is very important in a weight loss regime.
Chayote for anemia
Deficiency of iron and Vitamin B2 is often associated with causing anemia. Chayote can provide your body with sufficient amounts of these two nutrients, which stimulate the production of red blood cells, thereby increasing the levels of hemoglobin in the blood. The folate contained in this fruit also plays a very important role in the production and development of red blood cells. Moreover, the other nutrients in chayote such as Vitamin C, zinc and copper help in the easy and proper absorption of iron by your body.
Chayote for diabetics
Chayote is a low glycemic index fruit, which is low in calories and high in dietary fiber. Since it does not cause dangerous spikes in the blood sugar levels, it is ideal for people suffering from diabetes. The flesh of chayote is rich in soluble fiber, which aids in slowing down the process of digestion and inhibiting the absorption of sugars. According to studies, soluble fiber is very helpful in lowering the level of blood sugar and in managing diabetes.
Chayote lowers cholesterol
The soluble fiber in chayote binds with cholesterol and helps in easy removal from your system. Chayote has been found to decrease the levels of bad cholesterol or LDL and at the same time increase the levels of good cholesterol of HDL.
Chayote improves your immune system
Chayote is a great source of zinc that helps in boosting your immune system and fighting off diseases. The high levels of vitamin C in this fruit also play a key role in supporting and improving your immunity.
Chayote is a mild diuretic
Diuretics are substances that increase the production of urine. Chayote has mild diuretic properties, as a result of which it can prevent excess water retention. Therefore the consumption of this fruit can be very useful for people suffering from high blood pressure and those having high uric acid content.
Chayote for kidney stones
The diuretic properties of chayote help in preventing kidney stones and also in relieving urinary tract infections. A decoction made from the leaves of chayote has been used as remedy for dissolving kidney stones.
Chayote promotes bone health
Chayote is abundant in minerals like magnesium, phosphorus and calcium that are essential for maintaining strong and healthy bones. It is a also a rich source of vitamin K that plays an important role in preventing bone loss and the development of conditions like osteoporosis. The magnesium in this fruit is helpful in treating and preventing muscle cramps.
Although we are familiar with the chayote fruit as being the edible part of the plant, the fact is that its stem, seeds, leaves and roots are edible as well. In many parts of the world, the tubers of the chayote plant are consumed in a similar way as the other root vegetables. The leaves and shoots make a tasty ingredient in stir fries and salads. This fruit can be boiled, steamed, mashed, grilled, fried, baked, or even pickled. Chayote is a highly versatile fruit and by making it a part of your diet, you are sure to benefit from its numerous health improving properties.Image Credits: My Sweet Potato 3 - Christine, Flickr - Neil Palmer (CIAT)