Jicama is a low-fat, low-calorie root vegetable originating from Mexico. It is rich in fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants. Studies suggest that jicama can promote gut health, aid in digestion, protect the heart, prevent diabetes and boost weight loss. Explore its other benefits and learn how to safely add it in your diet.
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 .
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].
- High nutritional value
- Rich in antioxidants and fiber
- Eases digestion
- Boosts immune function
- Protects the heart
- Keeps blood sugar in check
- May combat cancer
- May fight depression and anxiety
- Seeds, stems, leaves, and skin are toxic
|Dietary fiber||4.9 g||20%|
|Vitamin C||20.2 mg||34%|
|Vitamin B6||0.25 mg||2%|
|Vitamin E||0.5 mg||2%|
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].
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].
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].
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 .
Health Benefits of Jicama
1) Rich in Antioxidants
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].
2) Promotes Gut Health
Inulin acts as 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 can 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].
3) Protects the Heart
Jicama juice contains the ion nitrate, which converts to nitric oxide after consumption. Nitric oxide increases blood flow, relaxes your blood vessels, and lowers blood pressure. In 30 healthy people, 500ml of jicama juice decreased their risk of blood clots and lowered blood pressure [47, 11].
Many nutrients in jicama – such as potassium, calcium, iron, copper, and fiber – improve heart health. Potassium and calcium lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke [14, 24, 48, 23, 49, 50].
Plus, your body needs iron and copper to make red blood cells, while they also improve blood flow. Their amount in jicama may not be exceptional, but it can add to your daily intake of these minerals [55, 56].
4) Keeps Blood Sugar In Check
A combination of jicama and tomato juice decreased blood sugar levels in a clinical study of 18 people with type 2 diabetes. Jicama extracts alone had the same effect in studies with diabetic mice [57, 58, 36].
5) May Help with Weight Loss
Jicama is a low-calorie food. It contains just 114 calories in 300g – two times less than potatoes. Due to its low glycemic index and high nutritional content, jicama increases insulin sensitivity, prevents obesity and boosts healthy weight loss [7, 63, 10].
6) May Aid in Cancer Prevention
Rotenone in jicama seeds, although toxic to mammals, may prove to be a promising anticancer tool. Studies are ongoing, but its effects have only been tested in the lab so far.
The edible jicama tubers may also aid in cancer prevention, since it contains a fair amount of inulin and vitamin C. Sufficient intake of fibers like inulin may reduce the risk of colon cancer. Otherwise, the anti-cancer potential of a jicama-rich diet hasn’t been studied [36, 76, 77, 78].
7) May Boost Immune Function
Some scientists consider that jicama is an immune-boosting functional food .
While this may be good for people with weakened immune systems, it may worsen inflammation in those with autoimmune issues. If you suffer from an autoimmune disorder, it might be best to eat jicama in moderation and carefully track your reaction .
8) May Support Mental Health
Compounds in jicama root and seeds may protect the brain, but research is still limited.
In mice, jicama seeds relaxed the muscles, promoted calmness, and lowered anxiety and aggression .
The effects of the edible jicama tubers on mental health haven’t been researched. But jicama is rich in vitamin C, which supports good mood. Plus, jicama adds to your daily intake of vitamin B6, folate, and magnesium, which improve PMS, anxiety, and depression [83, 84, 85, 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92].
Limitations and Caveats
The evidence on the health benefits and risks of jicama is very limited. Most studies focus on its nutrients and not on the vegetable itself. Additional research should be encouraged.
How to Eat Jicama
Jicama can be eaten raw, cooked, or stir-fried, on its own or as an addition to other dishes. You should peel off the brown, thick skin and only eat the white flesh. You can cut the flesh into cubes, slices, or chop it into fine strips.
Some ideas of how to add jicama to your diet:
- Slice up jicama and then sprinkle it with chili powder, salt, and lime juice
- Chop it up and stir-fry it with sesame oil
- Add to salads or soups as an extra crunch
- Slice jicama in long pieces and serve with guacamole or hummus dip
- Mix it with other vegetables and fruits, such as pineapple, apple, raw mango, sweet potato and add a spicy palm sugar dressing or peanut sauce
- Chop up jicama fine strips and use it together with other vegetables in spring rolls
The stems, seeds, leaves, and the skin of the jicama contain rotenone, a compound which is toxic to humans. Only the inside white flesh should be eaten. There have been at least 7 cases of jicama poisoning followed by nausea, vomiting, respiratory problems, brain damage and even death [8, 93, 9, 3, 94, 95].
What does jicama taste like?
Jicama’s flesh is juicy and crisp, and its taste is sweet and nutty. People often compare its taste to a savory apple, pear or water chestnut.
Can dogs eat jicama?
What’s a good jicama substitute?
You can substitute raw jicama with green apple, radish, turnip or celery. For cooked jicama, you should try water chestnut.
Where can I buy jicama?
You can buy jicama in the supermarkets, local stores, and farmer’s markets. Choose medium-sized, firm roots, as they have more juice and flavor than larger ones. Avoid roots with marks, cracks, wrinkles, or soft spots .
How do I store jicama?
You can store jicama in a cool, dry place (12.5°C/ 54.5°F) for 2 to 4 weeks. However, once cut, jicama should be kept in the fridge .
Jicama is high in fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants. It can be eaten raw or cooked, on its own or in addition to other dishes. Plus, it’s low in calories and sugars.
This tropical tuber can improve digestion, boost weight loss, protect the heart and keep blood sugar in check. But be careful – only the inside flesh is edible, while the stems, seeds, leaves, and skin are toxic!
Jicama is a tasty and healthy addition to keto, paleo, and vegan diets. It’s extremely versatile and easy to prepare, so why not give it a try?