Benefits of Jicama – Review the Latest Research

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Jicama (Pachyrhizus the roses) can be described as a climber plant that produces tuberous roots that weigh up to 9 lbs. It is a member of the Fabaceae (legume) family. Jicama is often referred to as yam beans, Mexican turnip, shankhalu (in Bengali), singkamas (in the Philippines) as well as the kuzu-imo (in Japan), and bang Kuang (in Korea and China).

The root vegetable is characterized by an outer brown, fibrous tissue removed before eating and a starchy white flesh. It's like white potatoes, but it's calorie-wise less and carbs. Jicama is usually raw and has a mild, somewhat sweet, lightly sweet, and nutty taste.

In a review of recent research, the plant was highlighted for its antioxidant and anti-aging properties, as well as its ability to boost the immune system and prevent chronic illnesses. While scientists have called for more research on humans, they have referred to Jicama as a neglected plant.

Rich in Antioxidants

Jicama is well-known for its antioxidants, which include flavonoids. Antioxidants protect against aging, inflammation, and chronic illness.

Antioxidants function as bodyguards to shield cells from attack by substances known as free radicals. Free radicals are created naturally within the body and are triggered by exposure to cigarette smoke and other pollutants in the environment. When they are in high levels, they can trigger an elevated level of oxidative stress and may damage important cell components, including DNA. This can play a part in the development of cancer and other diseases.

Antioxidants react with free radicals, neutralizing them and preventing their destruction. Because of this, antioxidants are also called scavengers of free radicals.

May Protect Heart Health

It is the leading cause of death among men and women throughout the United States. Jicama's nutrient-rich diet may help protect your heart.

For instance, studies have found that flavonoids (antioxidants) present in jicama are associated with lower mortality and risk from heart disease in adults across Europe and the U.S.

A study discovered that while antioxidants did not benefit heart health, the consumption of antioxidants in foods such as Jicama and various other plants is associated with a decrease in risk. This is probably because they reduce inflammation, neutralize free radicals, and prevent hardening of the arteries.

Fiber is another nutrient present in Jicama that is linked to heart health. A large-scale review of the research found that, while more long-term studies are needed, increased intake of fiber is associated with a reduction in three risk factors for heart disease, including the total amount of cholesterol, LDL (bad) cholesterol, and diastolic blood pressure (DBP), which is the lowest number.

In one study, 30 participants were randomly split into three groups, with 10 participants per group. Each group was instructed to drink 500 milliliters (16 inches) of freshly made jicama fruit juice, guava juice, or water daily. Researchers discovered that jicama juice decreased DBP and caused changes that could decrease the formation of blood clots, which is risky.

Supports Gut Health

Jicama can help support digestive and overall gut health thanks to its fiber content and capacity to promote an optimal gut microbiome, the microbial population living within the digestive tract.

Jicama contains fiber known as inulin that has beneficial effects on stool function, including increased stool frequency, consistency, and toughness.

It is also known as a prebiotic, meaning it feeds the beneficial probiotic bacteria within the gut, such as Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus. It's also been proven to increase the function of the intestinal barrier. This is crucial in stopping harmful substances from getting absorbed through the digestive tract to the bloodstream.10 Additionally, inulin has been found to shield the colon with its antioxidant benefits.

Supports Immune Function

Jicama helps boost immunity in several ways. It is a plant that protects against infections thanks to its antioxidant, antiviral, and antifungal properties. It's also abundant with vitamin C, which is an antioxidant and essential for healing and immunity function. Vitamin C deficiency causes diminished immunity and greater susceptibility to infections.

Changes in the gut microbiome triggered by fibers from food sources like Jicama have also been proven to prevent infection via an anti-inflammatory effect and reduce the growth of harmful or pathogenic bacteria.

The fiber intake of adult Americans is inversely related to the chance of dying from respiratory and infectious illnesses. One study found that for every 10 grams of fiber added to the diet daily, the chance of dying from respiratory and infectious diseases declined by 34% and 18% in males and 39%, 34%, and 34% in women, respectively.

May Help Manage Diabetes

The incidence of the disease within the U.S. has been steadily growing for over 20 years. Presently, 11.6% of the U.S. population has the disease, and one in five Americans don't know they have it.

Jicama could aid in the management of diabetes for a number of reasons. One of them is the inulin content. A review of research found that supplementing inulin significantly increased glycemic control (blood sugar control) for people suffering from prediabetes or Type 2 Diabetes. Inulin has been shown to boost the sensitivity of insulin or the efficiency of insulin in eliminating sugar from the blood.

In addition, jicama could be utilized as a replacement for foods with higher levels of carbohydrates to lower the load on the body or the amount of carbohydrates in a specific food or snack that your body has to process.

May Help Reduce Obesity

Obesity is also a growing issue across the U.S. In 2022, 35 percent or more of the adult population was obese in 22 states. Compared to 10 years ago, states had no adult obesity rate greater than 35%.

Obese people are at a higher risk of many conditions, including high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes, stroke, heart disease, mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, as well as osteoarthritis (destruction of bone and cartilage in the joint).

Jicama could help combat obesity by reducing its metabolic effects. For instance, the inulin content has been proven to reduce appetite and increase feelings of satisfaction and fullness.

Jicama can also be a less-calorie food item low in carbohydrates, primarily when used as flour for making foods such as tortillas, chips, and crackers. This may help to reduce the amount of calories consumed.

In addition, the gut microbiome shift caused by eating foods like jicama, which increase good bacteria, like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria, and decrease pathogenic microbes, has been linked to obesity protection. Flavonoids, found in jicama, have also been linked to anti-obesity effects.

May Help Protect Bone Health

Osteoporosis is one of the most prevalent bone diseases. It's characterized by the weakening of bones, their structure, and their strength. It may increase the risk of fracture. The number of women suffering from osteoporosis in the U.S. has increased since 2008.

Nutrients in jicama may help support bone health. Inulin, a component of jicama, has been proven to enhance in the absorption rate of calcium as well as magnesium through the digestive tract to the bloodstream. Both of these nutrients are essential for bone strength.

Vitamin C from Jicama is an essential nutrient for maintaining bone health. Additionally, flavonoid antioxidants have been proven to strengthen bone structure and decrease the risk of developing osteoporosis.

Nutrition of Jicama

1 cup raw Jicama can provide:

  • Calories: 49.4
  • Fat Zero grams (g)
  • Sodium: 5.2 milligrams (mg)
  • Carbohydrates: 11.5 g
  • Fiber 6.37 grams, which is 22.7 percent of the daily value (DV)
  • Protein: 0.936 g
  • Vitamin C:26.3 mg, equivalent to 29.2 percent of the daily value

Jicama also contains a small amount (less than 10 percent of the daily value) of other minerals, including magnesium, potassium, and iron.

Alongside immune function in healing and bone health, Vitamin C is essential to maintaining healthy connective tissue and skin and helps the body absorb iron.

Risks

Although it's not common, people are likely to have an allergy to the jicama plant. For some, the root can cause oral allergic syndrome (OAS) and symptoms such as irritation of the throat, mouth, lips, and skin around five minutes after eating the jicama.

It's crucial to know that only the white flesh of the jicama can be eaten. Skin, seeds, leaves, and stems are poisonous.

Tips for Consuming Jicama

Raw jicama is delicious and refreshing. The root vegetable could be:

  • Incorporated into fruit and garden salads and Slaws.
  • Sliced and eaten for a snack, sprinkled with lemon or lime juice and a pinch of chili powder.
  • Chopped and served with mustard vinaigrette to serve as an appetizer or side dish.
  • Cut into matchsticks, it is served alongside healthy dips such as hummus, guacamole, and herbed.
  • Tahini, olive tapenade, extra-virgin olive oil, pesto made of nuts, seeds, or tahini.
  • Cut into thin rounds and served raw instead of flour tortillas or corn tortillas to make Jicama tacos.
  • Granulated and served as a crunchy garnish for soups, tacos, or chili.

A Quick Review

Jicama is a sweet tuberous root that is typically eaten raw. It is a source of antioxidants, fiber, and vitamin C. Consuming it can lower the risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and obesity, but more research is needed. Avoid eating the seeds or skin, stem, or leaves because they're poisonous. If you suspect that you could have an allergy to the jicama, avoid eating it and speak to your healthcare physician about appropriate tests.

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