Jicama Benefits and Side Effects

Every day, people are coming out with the newest superfood that can change your life if you incorporate it into your daily diet. We all know the importance of eating our fruits and vegetables, but there is more than just the standard broccoli, spinach, and bananas. Jicama is an unsung hero that boasts many health benefits. 

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It may not be the most beautiful item in the produce section, but this vegetable can be used in a variety of dishes. Its versatile nature makes it easy for you to use in a number of different meals, especially if you’re looking for healthier options. 

So what is this magic vegetable? And what are these many health benefits? We’ve put together a guide of the many benefits and a few possible side effects of jicama. 

What is jicama?

Jicama is a root vegetable that looks very similar to a potato. It has brown skin and a white inside. Despite its potato-like appearance, jicama is slightly sweeter than a standard potato. The taste is best described as a mix between an apple, pear, and chestnut. Despite its slightly sweet taste, it is low in sugar, making it a healthy ingredient to add to your meal prep. It’s crunchy and juicy and can be served in a variety of ways.

Jicama can be eaten both raw and cooked, as long as you do not eat the flowers, stems, leaves, skin, or seeds. Only the flesh of the vegetable can be consumed by humans. Fortunately, if you buy your jicama from your local grocery store, it is likely that the beans and flowers will already be removed for you.

When served raw, jicama is typically used in salads as a replacement for apples or pears. It can also be used in sides such as pico de gallo. You can also just enjoy it sliced into small pieces with dip or hummus. Some stores even sell it pre-cut into sticks, making it a perfect addition to any vegetable platter at your next party.

When served cooked, it is often put into soups or sauces. They can also be baked into a healthier version of a french fry or “potato” chip.

It is native to Mexico and Central America, but can most likely be found in your local grocery store.

Nutrients

For people looking to get more nutrients and vitamins into their diet, jicama is a perfect food. It contains various nutrients such as Vitamin C and Vitamin E. It also includes potassium, magnesium, folate, and Vitamin B6. All of these vitamins and nutrients are necessary for a healthy diet, so enjoying jicama as a snack can help improve your overall intake of daily vitamins.

Hydrating

Jicama is 85% water. It is a perfect snack for a hot day to help keep you hydrated and healthy. As many of us know, it is recommended to drink between 2.7-3.7 liters of water depending on your weight and size. If you struggle with staying hydrated, try incorporating sticks of this healthy snack with a side of hummus or nut butter to get more water into your system. 

Immune-Boosting

Because of the Vitamin C found in jicama, adding it to your weekly diet can help with your immune system, which protects you from illness. Of course, there is no way to truly avoid the common cold, but the more Vitamin C, the healthier you and your immune system will be.

Anti-inflammatory

The Vitamin C in jicama can do more than just boost your immune system. It can also help with inflammation in your body. Those with arthritis who are told to stick to a healthy diet could benefit from more jicama in their meals and snacks throughout the week.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants help the body fight against illnesses such as heart disease and cancer. Fortunately, jicama is rich in antioxidants, making it a perfect vegetable to help your body fight against possible diseases. Antioxidants also help in preventing cell damage, which can slow down the aging process.

Heart Health

Because of the number of antioxidants and vitamins, jicama is fantastic to improve heart health. It contains soluble dietary fiber, which can help with lowering cholesterol. As mentioned above, it also has potassium. This can help lower blood pressure. Many people use jicama as a way to make a healthy version of fries or chips. This way, people can enjoy their favorite side in a way that improves their heart health rather than hurts it.

The iron and copper found in jicama can also improve circulation and make sure you have healthy red blood cells. 

Anemia Prevention

Because of the iron in jicama, this root vegetable can be helpful to those who suffer from low iron levels, also known as anemia. Red meat is sometimes recommended for those with anemia, but jicama is a healthier and vegetarian-friendly option for those looking to increase their iron intake.

Good Source of Fiber

Jicama is a great source of fiber and can help aid in digestion. Dietary fiber is helpful for those who may suffer from constipation. This can make you more comfortable throughout the day without having to take pills or supplements to aid in constipation relief. Increasing your fiber can also lower the risk of colon cancer. Fiber can even aid in lowering cholesterol. 

Low in Sugar

Whether you are diabetic or are trying to cut sugar out of your diet, jicama is perfect because it has very little sugar. Enjoying this root raw or cooked does not lead to a spike in blood sugar compared to some other fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes or sweet potatoes.

Gut Bacteria

Many people take prebiotic supplements to help with their gut health. Jicama has a natural prebiotic fiber that can help restore bacteria in your gut which can lead to better digestion and less inflammation. 

The inulin in jicama also helps your digestive system better absorb nutrients.

Weight Loss

Due to its low sugar, jicama can also help with weight loss. It has fewer calories than potatoes, so it can serve as a substitute in potato-based dishes, such as french fries. Jicama also contains a lot of water, so it can serve as a snack that keeps you hydrated and full, rather than reaching for something with fewer nutrients.

Side Effects

Despite all of the beneficial effects of enjoying jicama, it is important to note that only the root is edible to humans. The flowers, seeds,  and stems of this plant are toxic to humans. The skin is also toxic, so be sure to peel your jicama before eating or cooking.

Because of its high fiber, eating too much jicama could lead to a stomach ache or constipation. People with irritable bowel syndrome, also known as IBS, may be more sensitive to eating recipes that include jicama. 

As with most foods, there is also the risk of having an allergic reaction. If you notice itching or other symptoms of an allergy after consuming jicama, be sure to contact your local emergency number to receive medical attention. 

In Conclusion: A Worthy Addition to Your Diet

If you have never tried jicama before, consider picking some up on your next trip to the grocery store. With all of its natural health benefits, it is worth it to try mixing into your next salad or using it in a soup. Even if you just want it as a quick and healthy snack, the benefits of jicama are numerous and plentiful. A quick search on Google leads to hundreds of different recipes that call for jicama.

Whether you are trying to cut down on sugar or just want to live a healthier lifestyle by consuming more vitamins and fiber, jicama offers plenty of nutrients to make it worth experimenting with in the kitchen.