This month as an alternative to providing a Nightshade-free recipe, I'm sharing information about an exotic vegetable that has stirred way too many questions from my readers and patients—"is it a nightshade, and can I consume it if I have inflammation?" Since numerous questions were asked, naturally the Health Detective in me went on a mission; this article is the result of my research. The following questions and answers reflect what my patients and readers have asked. That said, before I share with you the reasons why you should not consume this vegetable, let's look at its qualities.
Jicama's Health Benefits
Jicama's health benefits are promoted, and mainly derived from, the unique mixture of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and other organic compounds, including dietary fiber, vitamin C, vitamin E, folate, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, potassium, magnesium, manganese, copper, iron, and a small amount of protein.
Jicama, also called the yam bean, arrowroot or Chinese turnip, is a globe-shaped, gold-brown-colored root vegetable. It has white-colored flesh that can be eaten raw or cooked, and like the potato, grows underground. With its crisp, juicy texture, and nutrient-rich content, jicama has many nutritional benefits, however, there are some safety and health considerations you should watch out for, that's where Health thru Education™ comes into play.
Edible Portion of Jicama
ONLY the root portion of jicama is edible. The leaves, flowers and vines of the plant contain rotenone, a natural insecticide designed to protect the plant from predators. Eating any of these parts of the plant can cause a toxic reaction. While the seed pods can sometimes be eaten when young, the mature pods are toxic. To be safe, it's best to only eat the root—underground—portion of the plant.
Uses For Jicama
Jicama is often used as a substitute for water chestnuts in Asian cooking because it retains its crisp texture even when exposed to heat. The inside can be sliced into sticks to use as crudités, as it will not discolor when exposed to air. It also makes for a refreshing snack when simply sprinkled with seasonings and some lemon or lime juice. Jicama can also be sautéed or roasted, much like turnips or parsnips; they will soften but retain their natural juiciness.
How Do You Pronounce Jicama?
There are two ways: "HICK-ah-mah" or "HEE-kah-mah"—both are correct and equally fun to say. You might also see this vegetable called "yam bean," "Mexican yam," or "Mexican turnip."
Health Benefits—(if you don't have inflammation)—You Should Know
- As a veggie high in fiber, jicama supports weight loss and blood sugar control because it also has a low glycemic index. It's a great starchy vegetable choice for anyone struggling to balance blood sugar or who has diabetes and can be helpful with losing weight fast, too. That said; remember it is a Nightshade so all the warnings regarding the side-effects and its propensity to accelerate inflammation need to be taken into serious account.
- It has a high water content and is low in calories with only 25 calories per half-cup serving. It's also a good source of fiber, providing three grams per half cup.
- Nutritionally speaking, this vegetable is low in carbohydrates compared to a potato. One-half cup of raw jicama provides 25 calories with less than six grams of total carbohydrates. It is also rich in fiber, with three grams per serving, and vitamin C, with 20 percent of the recommended daily intake for a 2,000–calorie diet.
- While you can eat jicama raw, you need to peel the plant before eating. Not only is the outer skin thick and fibrous, it also contains a toxic compound to protect the tuber from underground predators. Peel the jicama with a vegetable peeler as the skin is very tough, revealing the fleshy white insides. Be sure to thoroughly wash the peeler or any tool used to peel.
Is Jicama a Fruit Or Vegetable?
First grown in South and Central America, and used in all sorts of flavorful dishes, Pachyrhizus erosus, also known as Jicama or the Mexican yam, is a delicious, sweet-tasting and crunchy food similar to a sweet potato, though without edible skin—AND—jicama IS a Nightshade where sweet potato is NOT.
Can You Cook Jicama?
It's a wonderfully juicy, sweet, and nutty tuber with a distinct crunch. It is most commonly enjoyed raw, but you can cook jicama, too. Its white flesh stays crisp when cooked briefly.
Is Jicama A Prebiotic?
Jicama is often called by nutrition professionals the "root of digestive health" however, the fiber in jicama is not just any fiber. Jicama is a natural source of a soluble fiber called inulin, which acts as a prebiotic. Other natural sources of inulin include chicory root, burdock root, dandelion root, raw onion, raw garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, and yacon radish.
Mashed Potatoes Out Of Jicama?
Mashed jicama can be used as a substitute for mashed potatoes. Simply peel the jicama, then cube it and boil it in lightly salted water. Simmer the jicama until it is fork tender, drain it and mash it with a potato masher.
Can You Store Jicama In Water?
If not stored properly, jicama will quickly mold. If you do not use all the jicama, peel it, cut in slices or cubes, place in an airtight container cover with water to maintain crispness, and store refrigerated for up to three days. Cooked jicama will keep for three days refrigerated.
Now To The BIG Question: Is Jicama A Nightshade Vegetable?
Jicama spuds are part of the nightshade family, a group of vegetables that contain alkaloids, which have an impact on nerve-muscle function, joint function and digestive function—accelerating an existing inflammatory condition. Some great substitutes for white potatoes are sweet potatoes, mashed cauliflower and parsnip (Zanora Blanca in Latin America).
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Gloria Gilbere, DAHom, PhD
Dr. Gloria Gilbère (CDP, DA Hom, ND, PhD, DSC, EcoErgonomist, Wholistic Rejuvenist, Certified HTMA Practitioner) is Founder/CEO of the Institute for Wholistic Rejuvenation – after 22 years of owning/operating two health clinics in Idaho she relocated her Health Sciences/Research/Cooking Institute division to Cotacachi, Ecuador, S.A.
Her worldwide consulting via phone and Skype continues as does the Institute for Wholistic Rejuvenation in Idaho. Visit her website at www.gloriagilbere.com or call (888.352.8175) to schedule a consultation or register for her post-graduate courses.
NEWS FLASH: Ready to learn more about simple recipes that can give you what I call the Anti-Inflammation Advantage? Download your free 40+ page cookbook The Anti-Inflammation Recipe Sampler at drgloriaskitchen.com/totalhealth/