Benefits and Uses of Delicious Jicama

Jicama looks a little bit like a giant, brown-skinned turnip—but this Central American root vegetable packs a crisp, apple-like texture inside that plain-looking skin. That juicy, slightly sweet crunch is a great addition to meals for any phase, but it’s particularly welcome during Phase 2 of the Fast Metabolism Diet.

Although its taste can make it seem more like a fruit, jicama is a root vegetable.  Jicama provides lots of fiber, vitamin C, calcium, and potassium.

The inulin contained in the specific type of fiber, called fructans, in jicama is prebiotic. That is, it helps support the formation of “good” bacteria in your gut. The healthy bacteria in your GI tract help break down nutrients from foods aiding in the absorption of minerals.

On a practical level, that means a diet high in pre-biotic fiber, such as you get from foods like jicama, leeks, asparagus, chicory, Jerusalem artichokes, garlic, onions, and oats, give the body a helping hand when it comes to absorbing micronutrients from other foods you eat.

For more on inulin, this article published on the website of the National Institutes of Health is excellent.

Fructans and Calcium Absorption

One of the most common questions from those living Fast Metabolism lifestyle is about calcium. Since I don’t advocate dairy if the goal is to speed up the metabolism, where does your calcium come from? We posted previously on all the wonderful food sources for calcium.

Furthermore, the specific components of other foods can help the body absorb calcium efficiently.

The fructans in foods like jicama fit that profile. Studies have shown that inulin fructans significantly increase the bioavailability of calcium, which can lead to better bone density.

This is just another example of how foods complement each other and actually improve the nutritional value of each other.

Buying and Using Jicama

When shopping, choose a small to medium jicama and preparation is just as easy as removing the skin with a vegetable peeler. Plus, there are no seeds or pit to worry about! 

If you buy a large bulb, it will still taste fine — but the skin will be so thick and fibrous that you have to cut it off with a knife. Trim the top and the bottom of the root off first; that way it’ll stay put as you slice the rest of the skin off.

Jicama makes a great finger food on its own: Slice it into finger-thick lengths and sprinkle with cinnamon and stevia for a sweet treat, or use lime juice and crushed red pepper for a more traditional Mexican recipe. Both recipes are suitable for any phase or use the jicama fingers for dipping in hummus or nut butter in Phase 3.

As good as jicama is when eaten raw, it also stands up to cooking; it will soften but doesn’t fall apart. Uncooked jicama will keep for more than a week, too, if stored in your fridge in a paper bag. So you can grate or slice an entire jicama on Sunday and use it all week long.

Try jicama in stir-fry, fries, slaw or baked as chips.