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Jicama nutrition facts

Jicama is a round, fleshy taproot vegetable of bean family plant. Its underground starchy root is one of the popular edible root vegetable grown in many parts of Central American, South Asian, Caribbean, and some Andean South American regions. Its refreshing, crispy, ice-white fruit-like pulp is eaten raw or cooked in a variety of sweet and savory dishes worldwide.

Some of the common names of this tuber are yam bean, Mexican water chestnut, Mexican turnip, sengkwang, yacon…etc. It is pronounced as hecama.

Scientific name: Pachyrhizus erosus.

Jicama is a perennial vine plant growing vigorously under semitropical and tropical climates. It has similar growth characteristics as that of lima bean or any other bean species plant. The most distinguishing feature, however, is that it bears round, fleshy, turnip-like starchy edible root underneath the ground surface. Unlike other starch roots like potato, sweet potato wherein the peel may be eaten, jicama features thick dust-brown color inedible skin. Inside, its white starchy flesh has crisp texture and fruit like succulent, sweet-starchy taste. Each tuber weighs about 250 to 1200 g.

There exist at least five cultivar types of Pachyrhizus species; however, the three popular cultivated varieties include Pachyrhizus erosus (Mexican yam bean), Pachyuhizus ahipa (Andean yam bean), and Pachyrhizus tuberosus (Amazonian yam bean, jíquima). P. erosus (‘jícama de leche’) or Mexican yam bean is the popular variety imported in the USA. Another cultivar, P. palmatilobus, locally known as ‘jícama de leche’, has deeply lobed leaflets, a milky sap and less agreeable taste,

Health benefits of Jicama

  • Jicama is very low calorie root vegetables; contains only 35 calories per 100 g. However, its high quality phyto-nutrition profile comprises of dietary fiber, and anti-oxidants, in addition to small proportions of minerals, and vitamins.

  • It is one of the finest source dietary fiber and excellent source of oligofructose inulin, a soluble dietary fiber. The root pulp provides 4.9 mg or 13% of fiber. Inulin is a zero calorie, sweet inert carbohydrate and does not metabolize in the human body, which make the root an ideal sweet snack for diabetics and dieters.

  • As in turnips, fresh yam bean tubers are rich in vitamin C; provide about 20.2 mg or 34% of DRA of vitamin C per 100 g. Vitamin-C is a powerful water-soluble anti-oxidant that helps body scavenge harmful free radicals, thereby offers protection from cancers, inflammation and viral cough and cold.

  • It also contains small levels of some of valuable B-complex group of vitamins such as folates, riboflavin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid and thiamin.

  • Further, it provides healthy amounts of some important minerals like magnesium, copper, iron and manganese.

Principle Nutrient Value Percentage of RDA
Energy 38 Kcal 2%
Carbohydrates 8.82 g 7%
Protein 0.72 g 1%
Total Fat 0.19 g <1%
Cholesterol 0 mg 0%
Dietary Fiber 4.9 g 13%

Folates 12 µg 3%
Niacin 0.200 mg 1.5%
Pantothenic acid 0.135 mg 3%
Pyridoxine 0.042 mg 3%
Riboflavin 0.029 mg 2%
Thiamin 0.020 mg 2%
Vitamin A 21 IU 1%
Vitamin C 20.2 mg 34%
Vitamin E 0.46 mg 3%
Vitamin K 0.3 µg <1%

Sodium 4 mg <1%
Potassium 150 mg 3%

Calcium 12 mg 1%
Copper 0.048 mg 5%
Iron 0.60 mg 7%
Magnesium 12 mg 3%
Manganese 0.60 mg 3%
Zinc 0.16 mg 1%

Carotene-ß 13 µg --
Carotene-? 0 µg --
Lutein-zeaxanthin 0 µg --

Selection and storage

Jicamas are generally available year around in the markets. Generally, they enter through land route and flood the USA markets from the Central American countries during spring and summer.

Choose well-formed, firm, round, medium sized tubers. Avoid soft, shriveled, or tubers with surface cuts, cracks and bruise skin.

Once at home, jicamas can be stored much alike potatoes. They have very good shelf life and keep well in a cool, dry, dark place for about 3-4 weeks. Exposure to temperature below 10 °C results in chill-induced changes in color and texture. In addition, prolong storage converts starch to sugar, which makes the roots less sought after in savory dishes.

Cut sections, cubes or slices, however, should be placed inside the refrigerator.

Preparation and serving methods

Wash in cool running water and dry mop like in other tubers. Peel off thick fibrous skin using a vegetable peeler or paring knife. Peel and other plant parts contain rotenene, an organic poison; and therefore, should be discarded. It then can be cut into cubes, sliced, or chopped to fine sticks in a ways desired. It then can be cut into cubes, sliced, or chopped to fine sticks in a ways desired.

Fresh jicama is used much like a vegetable and is an important starch source in much of Central America. It stays crisp when cooked, making it one of the wonderful vegetable in stir-fries.

Here are some serving tips:

Raw jicama has sweet succulent apple like fruity taste. In many parts of Mexico, fresh tubers are cut into cubes/sticks and sprinkled with lime juice, salt and dressed with olive oil and paprika or ground chilli pepper.

Jicama is a favorite root vegetable in Mexican cooking where it is used in salads, slaw, stews, stir-fries, soups…etc with other common vegetables and fruits like orange, pineapple, carrot, green beans as well as with poultry, meat and seafood.

Outside of the American continent, this tuber is among the popular starch root in many south and southeast region. In Malaysia, where it is known as bengkoang, fresh young tubers are sliced and eaten with other fruits like pineapple, apple, raw mango, sweet potato…etc in rujak.

In Indonesia, they are served with much like Malayan salad but with added rujak sauce made from palm sugar, tamarind, shrimp paste, chili peppers, and sautéed peanut paste. Also, as a rujak tumbuk, wherein all the above-mentioned ingredients ground in a wooden mortar and served in a banana leaf.
Apart from salads, another popular oriental dish that uses jicama and turnips is popiah, a Fujian/Chaozhou-style fresh spring roll.

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