Pronounced HEE-kuh-muh, is a native of Central and South America and a member of the legume family. It is a tropical vine which produces an edible tuberous root which tastes like a cross between a potato and an apple and is similar in texture to a turnip. It has a high water content, making it a refreshing low-calorie treat in the summertime. It is high in vitamin C, dietary fiber, and antioxidants. While the root is tasty and nutritious, the rest of the jicama plant is highly poisonous and should be avoided.
According to foodfacts.mercola.com:
“Low in calories but high in a few vital nutrients, jicama is a bit of a contradiction when it comes to its starch content. It provides one-quarter of what’s needed daily in fiber per serving. But not just any fiber – jicama’s fiber is infused with oligofructose inulin, which has zero calories and doesn’t metabolize in the body. Inulin, a fructan, promotes bone health by enhancing absorption of calcium from other foods, protecting against osteoporosis. Inulin has a prebiotic role in the intestine – it promotes “good” bacteria growth that maintains both a healthy colon and balanced immunity. Because it has a very low glycemic index, jicama is a great food for diabetics, and low in calories for those interested in weight reduction.
Jicama is also an excellent source of fiber and vitamin C – 44% of the daily value per serving – and a powerful antioxidant that zaps free radicals to protect against cancer, inflammation, viral cough, cold, and infections.
Besides healthy amounts of potassium, this little powerhouse can help promote heart health, since high-potassium vegetables and fruit are linked to lower risks of heart disease. Jicama contains important vitamins like folates, riboflavin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, and thiamin, and the minerals magnesium, copper, iron, and manganese. Like potatoes, they should be used sparingly due to the high carbohydrates content.”
Other names for jicama are yam bean, Mexican yam, Mexican water chestnut, ahipa, saa got, Chinese turnip, lo bok, and Chinese potato. It is used in Eastern medicine to fight infections and improve the skin.
Adding jicama to a healthy diet has been shown to help improve digestion, the immune system, blood pressure and circulation, brain function, and help build strong bones.