A round, bulbous root vegetable with origins in the Mexican peninsula, jicama (pronounced hee-cama) is part of the legume family and grows on vines. This little-known tuber is grown in the warm climates of Central America, the Caribbean, the Andes Mountain regions, and Southern Asia, where it’s an important as well as extremely versatile food source.
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.