Jicama, also known as Mexican yam or Mexican turnip, is the root of a vine that is native to Mexico and South America. Spanish explorers transported this sweet, starchy and crunchy root throughout the world. Today Jicama is common in Caribbean, Filipino, Chinese, and Southeast Asian food.
Nutrition and health benefits of jicama
Jicama is very interesting from a health and nutrition standpoint. One cup is only 50 calories and provides 25% of the daily requirements of fiber and 44% of vitamin C requirements. Jicama also has high iron, potassium, calcium and magnesium profiles. Jicama is low on the glycemic index, making it an ideal food for diabetics and those interested in losing weight. What really sets jicama apart is it contains a particular type of fiber, oligofructose inulin, that is not metabolized by the body and protects against osteoarthritis and colon cancer, as well as acting as a prebiotic in the gut.
Note: Probiotics are live bacteria that help keep our gut and gastrointestinal system healthy. Prebiotics are a special type of indigestible fiber that feed these good bacteria. Jicama is a natural prebiotic.
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While the jicama root is safe to eat, its peel, root and vines contain rotenene, a natural toxin. So it is very important to peel jicama before you eat it.
Selection and Storage
Select medium-sized jicamas over large jicamas for better flavor and texture. Jicama can be stored for 3-4 weeks in cool temperatures or in the refrigerator. Note that the longer jicama is stored, the more it converts starch to sugar.
Because of its toughness and toxicity it is important to remove the jicama peel. You can peel with a very sharp vegetable peeler or a paring knife. Cut into strips to eat with your fingers, cube or julienne.
Jicama can be eaten by itself with a little lime juice, salt and chili pepper. It is great in salads, salsa, juices, stir fries, soups and stews. Try my Jicama and citrus salad for a refreshing warm weather salad.