Jicama Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Jicama, annotated
Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Jicama (pronounced HEE-ka-ma, or more commonly, HIK-ka-ma) is a tuber, similar to a potato. It has thick, brown skin and white, crisp, juicy flesh. Jicama root is also called Mexican jam bean, Mexican potato, sweet turnip, or Mexican turnip. While jicama can be sliced and enjoyed raw, you can also include jicama in recipes to take advantage of the nutrition that the vegetable provides. Jicama can also be a low-carb replacement for water chestnuts

Jicama Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 cup (130g) of jicama slices.

  • Calories: 49.4
  • Fat: 0.1g
  • Sodium: 5.2mg
  • Carbohydrates: 11.5g
  • Fiber: 6.4g
  • Sugars: 2.3g
  • Protein: 0.9g

Carbs

Jicama is a good source of healthy carbohydrates. There are three different types of carbohydrates in a 1-cup serving of this root vegetable.

  • Fiber: About 6 grams
  • Sugar: About 2 grams of naturally occurring sugar
  • Starch: About 3 grams

Because of the high fiber content in jicama, it is considered a low glycemic food. The glycemic load of this vegetable is approximately 10. The glycemic load takes the serving size of food into account as well. A glycemic load of less than 10 is thought to have little effect on blood glucose response.

Fats

Jicama is a naturally low-fat food, providing less than 1 gram of mostly polyunsaturated fat per serving. Polyunsaturated fats are considered "good" fats because they help to boost heart health when you choose them instead of saturated fat.

Protein

There is only a small amount of protein in jicama. A serving provides only 2% of your daily protein needs if you eat a 2,000 calorie per day diet. 

Vitamins and Minerals

Jicama is a good source of vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid). A serving contains 26 milligrams of the vitamin, or 40% of your daily recommended needs. Our bodies do not synthesize vitamin C naturally, so eating foods with vitamin C is essential for good bone structure, cartilage, muscle, and blood vessels. Vitamin C also aids in the absorption of iron and promotes wound healing.

Jicama provides a small amount of vitamin E (0.1 milligrams or 3% of reference daily intake), folate (4% of RDI), vitamin B6 (3% of RDI), thiamin, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid (2% each).

Jicama also provides a boost of potassium, with a single serving containing 195 milligrams, or about 6% of your daily needs. Other minerals provided by jicama include:

  • Iron (4% of RDI)
  • Magnesium (4%)
  • Copper (3%)
  • Phosphorus (2%)
  • Calcium (2%)
  • Zinc (1%).

Health Benefits

The most significant advantages of including jicama in your diet come from its high fiber content and its concentration of vitamin C.

Decreases Disease Risk

Fiber boosts your health in many different ways. Not only does fiber improve digestion and regularity, but fiber also provides many other health benefits, including lowering the risk of some types of cancer, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant. It has been shown to regenerate other antioxidants within the body, including vitamin E. Antioxidants may help to prevent or delay the development of certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, and other diseases, although research is ongoing about the extent of the health benefits that they can provide.

Promotes Good Bacteria

The prebiotic, fermentable fiber in jicama contributes to a healthy gut microbiome, the colony of "good" bacteria in the digestive tract. Research, such as this study on periodontal disease, is also investigating how prebiotics might improve promote health by supporting helpful bacteria in the mouth.

Allergies

Even though jicama is a legume (and so a distant relative of common allergens like peanuts and soy), there is only one reported case of jicama allergy in the medical literature. If you experience allergy symptoms, such as itching or swelling around the mouth, after consuming jicama, seek medical advice to diagnose and treat your condition.

Adverse Effects

While the flesh of jicama is safe to consume, other parts of the jicama plant are not safe for human or animal consumption. The stems and seeds of the jicama plant contain a naturally occurring compound that is used as an insecticide and to kill fish. The compound, called rotenone, is toxic.

In animals, rotenone has caused vomiting, incoordination, muscle tremors, and clonic convulsions. Cardiovascular effects include tachycardia (rapid heartbeat), hypotension (low blood pressure), and more severe conditions including death. While humans may not experience symptoms this severe with exposure to small quantities, it is best to avoid eating other parts of the yam bean or jicama plant. 

Varieties

There are two main varieties. Jicama de agua is most commonly grown and consumed in the U.S. It has a large round root and clear juices. Jicama de leche has a more elongated root and its juices are milky white.

When It's Best

You can usually purchase jicama year-round at your local market, but is best between October and March. Look for jicama that has smooth skin and seems heavy for its size. Choose a medium-sized vegetable, since larger ones tend to be less flavorful.

Storage and Food Safety

Jicama should stay fresh for about two weeks when stored in the refrigerator. Cover any exposed areas with plastic wrap to minimize air exposure (although jicama doesn't turn brown when exposed to air, like other fruits and vegetables can).

How to Prepare

Remove jicama's tough brown skin using a paring knife or vegetable peeler before eating or cooking. Even though jicama looks like a potato, the taste is similar to a savory apple. It has a crisp texture and a nutty flavor.

Add jicama to your list of produce to slice and enjoy raw. Add it to a crudité platter or eat it like a carrot. Dipping it into hummus, salsa, or another savory dip is one of the easiest ways to enjoy this root vegetable. Or use jicama as a healthy salad topper, in coleslaw or in this Asian shrimp salad, Add to salsa with corn and black beans or stuff into spring rolls.

While jicama is delicious raw, it can also be cooked. You might try adding jicama to your favorite stir-fry, or sautéing with onions and peppers for a twist on hash browns or home fries. Use like you would a potato or water chestnut.

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Article Sources
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Additional Reading