Sunday, June 20, 2010

Can jicama ( a vegetable) speed up weight loss? Read this!

Jicama ( pronounced hih-cama) is a low calorie root vegetable that is available in most supermarkets. It is grown in Mexico and Central America and widely used in the Latin American diet. It looks like a turnip or large radish but has a mild, almost sweet flavor. In addition to containing potassium, iron and calcium, Jicamas are very high in Vitamin C, ellagic acid , and fiber. This low calorie ( 45 calories per cup) , zero fat , vegetable is a nice addition to any meal. Peeled and used raw, it can be substituted for water chestnuts, added to stir frys, sliced and eaten raw like celery, or added to salads for delightful taste. I have always enjoyed jicama, but now I am intrigued with information about how jicama can help you lose weight faster. ( scroll down for jicama recipes)

The Research on Weight Reduction

In a recent article in First magazine, David Feder R.D., and a nutritional researcher at the University of Texas at Austin, explained about hormones and weight loss. He refered to a study published in The Journal of Nutritional biochemistry which said, " probiotic bacteria use ellagic acid to generate compounds that help the body better utilize food, putting calories to use to give you energy rather than parking those calories on your hips." It turns out that ellagic acid is found in significant amounts in jicama. He also refered to another study done in Taiwan that said, " allegic acid helps the body break down fructose while reducing levels of weight-sabatoging inflammation." David Feder recommends eating jicama because not only is it rich in ellagic acid, it is also rich in vitamin C which helps the body use glucose as energy rather than storing it as fat. In addition, the fiber in jicama nay help elimination and thus belly bloat. Jicama is also low in sugar, which can make it a good  raw, cruchy snack for diabetics or hypoglycemics.  

Ellagic acid:  An antixodant phytochemical

Fiber:  Fiber is the ingredient in plant food that is not digestible. However, it is probably one of the most important nutrients that the body needs to help eliminate waste. Without sufficient fiber ( no less than 25-30 grams a day) your body may hold on to toxins which may increase your risk of developing chronic constipation, higher levels of cholesterol, and difficulty losing weight. Fiber acts as as scrub brush as it moves through your system getting rid of toxic build up.

Next time you go to the supermarket, look in the produce isle for jicama.

Tips When Using Jicama
jicama cut up

How to store and use jicama
  • Jicama will stay fresh in the refrigerator up to about 2 weeks or even out on the counter if cool
  • Once cut, wrap and store in the refrigerator for up to about a week
  • Peel jicama with a peeler or sharp paring knife
  • Eat it raw as cubes, sliced or as sticks.
  • Its mild sweet flavor makes it a perfect addition to a vegetable tray.
  • Shred jicama to add to salads, coles slaws, health salads.
  • Add it to a stir fly in place of water chestnuts
  • Can be boiled or steamed
  • Jicama can be baked in its skin at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes ( depending on the size)
  • I like it best raw! It is mildly sweet and crunchy and low calorie
Try some of these recipes:

Mashed ( potato) Jicama

Peel and cube jicama. Boil or steam until tender. Mash with fork. Add butter, salt and pepper or any seasoning that you would add to mashed potatoes.

Baked ( potato) Jicama

Make jicama a low calorie substitute for a baked potato.
Wash the jicama well, puncture with a fork for two or three jabs, and then bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes. When tender, slice down the middle and eat contents not skin.
Add any topping that you would add to a baked potato such as butter, sour cream, salt, pepper, etc.
To keep it low calorie, add a spoonful of plain greek yogurt.

Low Calorie Jicama Crunch Fries

2 medium jicamas ( peel and slice into strips)

1 TBsp of olive oil

1 tsp each of onion powder & paprika

Sea salt, and optional 1/4 tsp of cumin powder


Toss all ingredients together in a large bowl until fries are well coated. Enjoy!
or leave out the oil and make it lower in calories

Waldorf Cranberry/ Broccoli  slaw Jicama salad  ( This recipe is fabulous!)

Great salad for lunch on a hot summer day or as a side dish during any season.

1 bag of organic broccoli slaw ( can find at most supermarkets)

1 cup of diced jicama (peel jicama first)

1-2 small organic apples, diced

1/4 cup chopped raw walnuts

1/3 cup organic dried cranberries

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and set aside


1/2 cup soaked cashews (optional) ( soak for at least 2 hours or more)

1/4 cup raw honey ( raw tastes best)

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Blend all ingredients in blender and pour over vegetables and toss till coated. Allow to sit for 15 minutes before serving.. YUM!


  1. Hi, Judee -- thanks for the reference -- just a quick clarification, I'm a FORMER nutrition researcher at UT. After I finished my grad school research, I left UT and went into nutrition journalism. But yes, jicama is amazing; coincidentally, I just ate a cup and a half of it, with fresh lime juices squeezed in. VERY refreshing and tasty!
    Thanks again,

    David Feder, RD
    Senior Nutrition Editor
    FIRST for Women Magazine
    270 Sylvan Ave.
    Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632-2523
    201.569.6699 x272

  2. wow, can you believe I've never really heard of baking or cooking jicama? I've only done the lime squeezed on it as well. This is great info!

  3. when I moved to Tucson ( 15 years ago ) it was the first time had ever even heard of Jicama....It has eversince been one of my favorite veggies ,marvalous and versitle veggie ..if you have never tried it ,please do ..wonderful,and these are a few recipies I had never tried ,LOVE THE fried ...and baked (potato)

  4. Thanks for sharing your info. I really appreciate your
    efforts and I am waiting for your next write ups thanks once again.

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  5. I've always loved jicama with lemon and chile powder - tasty snack. Good to know it has some great benefits!

  6. Wow! 48years old and I just got introduced to Jicama. Very tasty and so good for us. I'm hooked! My new snack food.

  7. Awesome article ,Thanks for sharing your article .I read attentively to your post.I am reading to your Broccoli slaw Jicama salad recipe.I know that it is so helpful for weight loss.I am trying to less my eight fast.

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