Jicama is a globe-shaped root vegetable with papery, golden-brown skin and a starchy white interior.
It’s the root of a plant that produces beans similar to lima beans. However, the beans of the jicama plant are toxic.
Originally grown in Mexico, jicama eventually spread to the Philippines and Asia. It requires a long growing season with no frost, so it thrives in locales that are warm year-round.
Its flesh is juicy and crunchy, with a slightly sweet and nutty flavor. Some think it tastes like a cross between a potato and a pear. Others compare it to a water chestnut.
Other names for jicama include yam bean, Mexican potato, Mexican water chestnut, and Chinese turnip.
Here are 8 health and nutrition benefits of jicama.
1. Jicama is packed with nutrients
Jicama has an impressive nutrient profile.
Most of its calories come from carbs. The rest are from very small amounts of protein and fat. Jicama contains many important vitamins and minerals, as well as a significant amount of fiber.
One cup (130 grams) contains the following nutrients:
- Calories: 49
- Carbs: 12 grams
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fat: 0.1 gram
- Fiber: 6.4 grams
- Vitamin C: 44% of the recommended daily intake
- Folate: 4% of the recommended daily intake
- Iron: 4% of the recommended daily intake
- Magnesium: 4% of the recommended daily intake
- Potassium: 6% of the recommended daily intake
- Manganese: 4% of the recommended daily intake
Jicama also contains small amounts of vitamin E, thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, and copper.
This root vegetable is low in calories and high in fiber and water, making it a weight loss-friendly food. Just one cup (130 grams) contains 17% of the recommended daily intake for fiber for men and 23% of the recommended daily intake for women.
Jicama is also an excellent source of vitamin C, an essential water-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant in your body and is necessary for many enzyme reactions.
Summary: Jicama contains many important vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, folate, potassium, and magnesium. It’s low in calories and high in fiber and water. It also contains antioxidants, including vitamins C and E and beta-carotene.
2. Jicama is high in antioxidants
Jicama contains several antioxidants, which are beneficial plant compounds that help prevent cell damage.
One cup (130 grams) of jicama contains nearly half of the RDI for the antioxidant vitamin C. It also contains the antioxidants vitamin E, selenium, and beta-carotene.
Antioxidants help protect against cell damage by counteracting free radicals, the harmful molecules that cause oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress has been linked to chronic diseases including cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and cognitive decline.
Fortunately, diets high in antioxidant-rich foods like jicama can help fight oxidative stress and may decrease the risk of developing chronic diseases.
Studies have linked antioxidants in fruits and vegetables to a lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and Alzheimer’s.
Summary: Jicama is a good source of antioxidants like vitamin C. Diets high in these compounds have been linked to a lower risk of certain chronic diseases.
3. Jicama may boost heart health
Jicama has numerous nutrients that make it an excellent choice for improving heart health.
It contains a significant amount of soluble dietary fiber, which may help lower cholesterol levels by preventing bile from being reabsorbed in the intestines, as well as preventing the liver from making more cholesterol.
A review of 23 studies showed that increasing fiber intake significantly decreased total cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol.
Jicama also contains potassium, which helps lower blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels.
For example, one study showed that potassium decreased blood pressure and protected against heart disease and stroke.
Suggested read: 8 impressive health benefits of cauliflower
Additionally, jicama may improve circulation because it contains iron and copper, both of which are necessary for healthy red blood cells. One cup contains 0.78 mg of iron and 0.62 mg of copper.
Jicama is also a natural source of nitrate. Studies have linked nitrate consumption from vegetables to increased circulation and better exercise performance.
Furthermore, one study in healthy adults showed that consuming 16.6 ounces (500 mL) of jicama juice reduced the risk of developing blood clots.
Summary: Jicama contains dietary fiber, potassium, iron, copper, and nitrate, which may benefit heart health by lowering cholesterol levels, reducing blood pressure, and improving circulation.
4. Jicama promotes digestion
Dietary fiber helps increase the bulk of stool. This helps it move more smoothly through your digestive tract.
One cup (130 grams) of jicama contains 6.4 grams of fiber, which can help you meet your daily goals.
Additionally, jicama contains a type of fiber called inulin. Studies show that inulin can increase the frequency of bowel movements by up to 31% in those with constipation.
Jicama is also high in water, which may help ease constipation. Foods with a high water content like jicama can help you meet your daily fluid needs.
Summary: Jicama contains high amounts of dietary fiber and water, both of which promote healthy bowel movements.
5. Jicama is good for your gut bacteria
Jicama is high in inulin, which is a prebiotic fiber.
A prebiotic is a substance that can be used by the bacteria in your body, resulting in health benefits.
While your digestive system is unable to digest or absorb prebiotics such as inulin, the bacteria in your gut can ferment them.
A diet high in prebiotics increases the population of “good” bacteria in your gut and decreases the number of unhealthy bacteria.
Studies have shown that the types of bacteria in your gut may affect your weight, immune system, and even mood.
Suggested read: 8 science-based health benefits of pineapple juice
Eating prebiotic foods promotes the growth of the types of bacteria that may lower the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and kidney disease.
Summary: Jicama contains a type of prebiotic fiber that feeds beneficial gut bacteria. Healthy gut bacteria reduce the risk of developing obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
6. Jicama may reduce the risk of cancer
Jicama contains the antioxidant vitamins C and E, selenium, and beta-carotene. Antioxidants neutralize the free radicals that can lead to cell damage and cancer.
Also, jicama is a good source of dietary fiber. One cup (130 grams) contains more than 6 grams of fiber.
Dietary fiber is well known for its protective effects against colon cancer.
One study showed that people who ate more than 27 grams of dietary fiber per day had a 50% lower risk of developing colon cancer, compared to those who ate less than 11 grams.
Additionally, jicama contains a prebiotic fiber called inulin.
Prebiotics may reduce the risk of cancer by increasing the number of healthy bacteria in the gut, increasing the production of protective short-chain fatty acids, and boosting the immune response.
Studies in mice have shown that consuming inulin fiber may protect against colon cancer.
In addition to being a beneficial type of fiber, inulin has been shown to act as an antioxidant that protects the gut lining.
Summary: Jicama contains antioxidants, fiber, and prebiotics, all of which have been shown to protect against certain types of cancer.
7. Jicama may aid weight loss
Jicama is a nutrient-dense food. It contains a high number of nutrients but a relatively low number of calories.
Jicama is high in both water and fiber, which helps fill you up.
Additionally, the fiber in jicama may help keep your blood sugar steady. Fiber slows digestion, which helps prevent blood sugar levels from rising too quickly after eating.
Insulin resistance is a major contributor to obesity. It happens when your cells become less sensitive to insulin, making it harder for glucose to enter the cells where it can be used for energy.
Instead, the glucose stays in your bloodstream, raising your blood sugar levels.
Studies in mice suggest that eating jicama may increase insulin sensitivity and decrease blood sugar levels.
Jicama also contains the prebiotic fiber inulin, which has been linked to weight loss and shown to impact hormones that affect hunger and fullness.
Therefore, eating jicama may not only increase the type of gut bacteria that aid weight loss, but it may also help you feel more satisfied after a meal.
Summary: Jicama is a nutrient-dense food that is low in calories and high in fiber and water. Studies show that eating jicama can decrease blood sugar levels, improve insulin sensitivity and help you feel full longer.
8. Jicama is extremely versatile
Jicama can be eaten raw or cooked and used in a wide variety of dishes.
After removing the tough, brownish peel, the white flesh can be cut into slices or cubes.
Here are some ways to add jicama to your diet:
- Add it to a vegetable salad for extra crunch.
- Combine with mango, pineapple, or papaya for a tropical fruit salad.
- Cut it into thick slices and serve with a dip like guacamole or hummus.
- Add it to a vegetable platter.
- Stir-fry it with sesame oil and rice vinegar.
- Sprinkle it with lime juice and chili powder for a spicy snack.
Summary: There are many different ways to eat jicama. It can be eaten plain, with a dip, or incorporated into dishes like salads and stir-fries.
Jicama is healthy food to include in your diet.
It’s high in several nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants, which may provide health benefits, including improved digestion, weight loss, and a reduced risk of disease.
Suggested read: Figs: Nutrition, benefits, and downsides
Plus, jicama is tasty and crunchy and can be eaten by itself or paired with many other foods.
Given all of the benefits that jicama has to offer, you should consider incorporating it into your diet.