Things like fries and other starchy foods are something a keto dieter has to forget about, but there are some great alternatives out there like zucchini fries and jicama fries.
When looking at jicama, you might think that it looks like a high-carb starchy vegetable such as potatoes and other root vegetables. But, what confuses many people is when they see it in many low-carb recipes and dishes.
So, is jicama low-carb and can you eat it on the keto diet? Keep on reading to find out everything you need to know.
What Is Jicama?
For those who don’t know, jicama or also known as Pachyrhizus erosus, yam bean, Mexican yam bean, or Mexican turnip, is a type of a vine that is a part of the genus Pachyrhizus in the bean (Fabaceae) family.
The plant is native to Mexico and Central America where there are two other cultivated species Pachyrhizus tuberosus and Pachyrhizus ahipa.
The name most often refers to the edible tuberous root of the plant, which is what this article is referring to. Even though the root of the plant is widely used, the rest of the plant is poisonous. Its seeds contain a toxin called rotenone, which is used to poison fish and insects.
Jicama has yellow and papery skin, and its inside is creamy white, with a texture that is crispy and closely resembles a raw potato or a pear. It has a slightly sweet and starchy flavor, reminiscent of raw green beans, or some types of apples.
Most often it is eaten raw, just seasoned with chili powder, lemon, or lime juice, salt, and Alushta. It is also consumed cooked in stir-fries and soups where it is paired with chili powder, ginger, cilantro, lime, lemon, orange, red onion, sesame oil, grilled fish, salsa and soy sauce. In Mexico, jicama is used in salads and fresh fruit combinations, soups, fruit bars, and many other cooked dishes.
The cultivation of jicama was spread from Mexico to the Philippines, where it is called singkamas, and then it spread to China and from there was widely spread across Southeast Asia.
Every country gave jicama its own twist and found a new way to use it, so different dishes were created. Some of those are popiah, fresh lumpia in the Philippines, fresh salads in Singapore and Indonesia, and yusheng and rojak in Malaysia.
Nutritional Facts of Jicama
Here is the nutritional information of 100 grams of raw jicama (*):
|Total Carbs||8.82 grams|
|Net Carbs||3.92 grams|
What Is Jicama Good For?
Jicama has been used for a long time, but the taste is not the only reason why so many people fall in love with it. Apart from its low-calorie count, jicama is packed with fiber at almost 5 grams per 100 grams serving.
The fiber that jicama has is a type of special fiber called inulin. Inulins are a group of polysaccharides that naturally occur in some plants- such as the jicama.
They are a type of soluble dietary fiber that has been associated with many health benefits mostly regarding gut health. They are universally agreed-upon as prebiotics and many studies have been done that confirm their health benefits.
Prebiotic dietary fibers like inulin can help increase Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli- beneficial gut bacteria that help with the digestion of food, and it also can help decrease the bad gut bacteria. The prebiotic dietary fiber can help decrease allergy risk, it can help increase the absorption of calcium and help better the immune response, as well as help decrease the fermentation of proteins. (*)
Soluble diary fiber also has cholesterol-lowering properties that work both by preventing the reabsorption of bile in the intestines and preventing the liver to create more cholesterol. (*)
But, the health properties of soluble diary fiber don’t end there. Fiber can slow digestion down and make you feel fuller for longer. This also means that it can slow the absorption of carbs and therefore it can help avoid a blood-sugar spike. (*)
Jicama is also rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and beta-carotene, which are antioxidants. Antioxidants are chemical compounds that can help prevent cellular damage by reacting with free radicals- which are the results of metabolism and they can cause oxidative stress. (*)
Antioxidants that are contained in fruits and vegetables are known to lower the risks of many chronic conditions such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and obesity, as well as cancer. (*)
Some studies were done on mice that also link the consumption of jicama to regulating blood glucose levels and increasing insulin sensitivity. (*), (*)
Can You Eat Jicama On The Keto Diet?
Even though Jicama has a starchy taste and texture, it only has 38 calories and 3.92 grams of net carbs per 100 grams, and a GI (glycemic index) of 15, making it a great low-carb vegetable.
Since 100 grams is about one serving, you would be eating 3.92 grams of net carbs, AND getting all the benefits that jicama offers, so the carbs may be worth it.
Therefore, yes, jicama is a healthy, versatile, and low-carb vegetable, and you can easily fit it in a keto diet or a low-carb diet. Jicama can be a good side dish and a great alternative to potatoes when fried. You can also enjoy it in salads, soups, and stir-fries or raw with lemon or lime and salt.
Jicama has 8.82 grams of carbs per 100 grams, out of which 3.92 grams are net carbs.
Despite being a root vegetable, jicama is keto-friendly and can be used as a low-carb substitute for potato fries.
Jicama is a great way to fill the gap left by fries in your diet, as they are amazing when fried, but not only that, it is a great way to add crunch to your salads and it is a great raw- as a snack.
Apart from its taste and its versatile nature, jicama is filled with fiber and other nutrients that are beneficial for your health. It’s safe to say that jicama is a great addition to a keto diet or a low-carb diet.
*Photo by nungning20/depositphotos