5 Jicama Benefits That’ll Have You Adding This Veggie to Your Grocery List ASAP

Jicama is crunchy, slightly sweet, and full of beneficial nutrients.

<p>Carlosrojas20/Getty Images</p>

Carlosrojas20/Getty Images

Jicama (Pachyrhizus erosus) is an interesting plant that’s full of contradictions. It looks like a root vegetable—and it’s often treated like one—but it’s technically a member of the bean family (and a type of veggie) that grows above ground like a vine. It’s native to tropical climates like South America, so it also goes by other names like “yam bean” and “Mexican potato.”

On the outside, jicama has brown skin like a russet potato, but it’s shaped like a turnip. The inside flesh is white. Given its resemblance to root vegetables, it looks like a friendly plant, but much of the jicama is actually toxic to humans. You can eat the bulbous roots (sometimes called tubers) but not much else. Jicama has a rather mild taste that can best be described as a cross between an apple, potato, and water chestnut. Some even describe it as having a milky taste, though it’s mostly known for its crunchy texture.

Though jicama isn’t what it seems, it is good for you, according to the registered dietitians we spoke to. Here’s what they had to say about the nutritional benefits jicama has to offer.

Related: Top 5 Health Benefits of Lemon: Immunity, Skin Health, and More

Jicama Benefits

Jicama is more than a food that adds some much-needed crunch to your favorite recipes. In fact, the hearty legume has health benefits that can positively impact many parts of the body. Here are a few standouts:

Jicama is high in dietary fiber

Of all the nutrients jicama provides, fiber is near the top. Adults generally need between 22 and 34 grams of fiber per day, but most Americans aren’t hitting that threshold. That’s where fiber-rich foods like jicama come in. A one-cup serving of raw jicama provides more than 6 grams of dietary fiber, per the USDA. Depending on your needs, which can vary depending on factors like age and sex, a serving of jicama could account for up to 27 percent of your daily fiber needs.

Getting enough fiber has many benefits to your health, notes Lena Bakovic, RDN, a registered dietitian with Top Nutrition Counseling, but fiber is especially beneficial for your gut and heart health. “Dietary fiber contributes to bowel regularity, and the prebiotics in jicama also help support the growth of healthy gut bacteria,” she says.

Jicama provides immune-boosting vitamin C

Vitamin C is a go-to remedy for fighting the common cold and other viruses. This is because it’s an antioxidant known for supporting a healthy immune system. Citrus fruits and their juices are potent sources of vitamin C, but so is jicama. “A serving of jicama provides at least 20 percent of the daily value (DV) for vitamin C,” says Bonnie Roney, RD, a registered dietitian in Tampa, Florida. “It supports immune function, assists in wound healing, and even increases the absorption of iron.” 

While jicama is rich in vitamin C, it also contains other antioxidants, such as flavonoids. As Roney points out, antioxidants protect cells from free radical damage. This could reduce the risk of disease.

Jicama could support a healthy heart

According to the CDC, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. Two of the biggest factors for heart disease—high cholesterol and high blood pressure—are also common among Americans.

One way to support heart health, Roney shares, is to eat more fiber- and antioxidant-rich foods like jicama. “The fiber found in jicama can support heart health by lowering total and ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol,” she explains. Jicama has also been shown to lower blood pressure, while antioxidant-rich diets could reduce the risk for cardiovascular diseases, per one review.

Jicama is hydrating

Jicama is made up of roughly 90 percent water. “Jicama’s high water content makes it a hydrating snack and ingredient,” says Mia Syn, RDN, a Charleston-based dietitian. “Proper hydration is essential for overall health, and helps maintain bodily functions like temperature regulation and nutrient transport.” 

While water is the best source of hydration, fruits and vegetables also provide water, per the American Heart Association. It’s especially important to stay hydrated when exercising, but you should aim to get plenty of water throughout the day regardless. The average adult needs between 11.5 and 15.5 cups of fluids per day, which can come from both food and drink.

Related: 10 Super-Hydrating Drinks That Are Way More Interesting Than a Glass of Water

Jicama may support weight loss

Jicama has a satisfying crunch when you bite into it, so it’s commonly enjoyed as a snack. Syn notes that it makes a good low-calorie snack, too. “Jicama is low in calories and high in water, making it a good option for those looking to manage their weight,” she explains. A cup of raw jicama has fewer than 50 calories, so it’s a good example of a high-volume food.

Jicama is also believed to help balance blood sugar levels. In one animal study, jicama prevented blood glucose spikes and excessive weight gain in mice fed a high-sugar diet. While human studies are still warranted, jicama is low on the glycemic index, so it’s considered suitable for people with diabetes.

How to Add More Jicama to Your Diet

Before you load up on jicama, remember that parts of the plant are inedible. Jicama skin, vines, and beans are all toxic. The root is the edible part, so separate it from the rest of the plant and peel it. The part that remains—the white flesh—is the edible portion. 

There are many ways to enjoy jicama, but it’s commonly eaten raw or raw with some seasoning. In tropical countries where jicama is native, street vendors serve jicama sliced into sticks and flavored with some lime juice, salt, and chili powder. You can also add chopped or diced jicama to salads, or use sliced jicama sticks as a vessel for your favorite dip. Roney recommends eating jicama raw since the vitamin C is most available without added heat.

You can also cook jicama, however. A popular way to cook jicama is in the oven or air fryer. Slicing jicama into sticks and cooking them creates what’s known as “jicama fries.” They look similar to potato-based fries, but the taste and texture will be slightly different. Jicama fries are also healthier than standard French fries.

Jicama Recipes to Try

Ready for some jicama recipes that will get you hooked to this unique plant? Keep reading!

Coconut-Marinated Shrimp With Cucumber and Jicama

Jen Causey
Jen Causey

Since jicama is native to tropical countries, it pairs wonderfully with Latin American flavors. This shrimp recipe calls for coconut milk, chili, and lime, so naturally, it also calls for jicama. The shrimp is cooked, cooled, and marinated in the coconut mixture, and then served with cucumber and jicama for a refreshing lunch or dinner.

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Related: How to Make Zucchini Noodles in 4 Simple Steps

Morelian Gazpacho Fruit Salad Recipe

<p>Kimberly Low/EyeEm/Getty Images</p>

Kimberly Low/EyeEm/Getty Images

This jicama recipe is inspired by the Mexican street food, Morelian Gazpacho. It’s a type of fruit salad that combines jicama with fruits like mango, pineapple, and watermelon, as well as finely diced onion. The salad also contains orange juice and cheese, so it’s equal parts sweet, savory, and refreshing.

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Jicama Fries

<p> Kristina Vanni</p>

Kristina Vanni

If you want to try cooked jicama, this recipe is for you. It’s a lower carb alternative to regular fries, but with the right seasoning, you’re not missing out on anything. It’s quick to make and, aside from the jicama, you likely already have the remaining ingredients on hand.

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