The world of Keto can be an isolated place without the comfort of potatoes and the yummy saltiness of French fries. But it doesn’t have to be! Jicama is a root vegetable that’s similar in taste, texture and use to the carb-loaded potato. However, Jicama is not loaded with carbohydrates which makes it a Keto-friendly alternative! Read on to discover what Jicama is, how it fits into your Keto and how to best use this new vegetable.
What is Jicama?
Jicama is a root vegetable just like carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes and beets. It’s a staple in many South and Central American diets, which is probably why you may not have heard of it before. Its other names are the Mexican turnip and the Yam Bean. Those names give a hint to its appearance, use and texture.
Jicama is shaped similarly to a turnip. It’s brown and relatively unappealing from the outside. When you cut it open it reveals a pristine white flesh on the interior. If you were to munch on it raw, as some people like to do, you’d discover that it has a crunchy texture that offers a little bit of moisture.
It tastes slightly sweet and slightly nutty. In this way it’s more flavorful than the old potato you’re used to. The flavor is still mild enough that it’s a very versatile food without its natural flavor overpowering whatever dish you’re adding it to. Some people have compared its taste to a cross between a carrot and an apple. This gives you an idea of the sweetness of the Jicama; although, you might want to taste it yourself to find out!
You can eat the brown exterior; however, it’s very fibrous which means that most people cut it off in order to get to the white insides. You should never eat the leaves or any of the other aboveground parts of this plant. These parts are all poisonous so it’s best to only eat the white interior of the root bulb if you’re unsure.
What are the health benefits of Jicama?
So, you know that this unusual vegetable is not bad tasting, but are there any other reasons to give it a try? Yes, the Jicama is host to a variety of health benefits, some of which are extremely important on Keto.
The first, and largest benefit that Jicama has to offer is its fibre. Jicama has a prebiotic fibre that’s difficult to find in other places on Keto. Prebiotics are essential for gut health because they promote the proper functioning of healthy bacteria in the gut. Other sources of Keto-friendly prebiotics include flaxseeds, asparagus and chicory root.
Jicama contains inulin which is soluble form of fibre that’s 100% natural and it feeds the healthy, good bacteria in your gut. On top of that, inulin may help prevent the growth of unhealthy bacteria that could cause you digestive issues and discomfort.
On top of the benefits of prebiotics and inulin, the fibre in Jicama is great for your digestion. One cup of jicama contains roughly 25% of the fibre that you need in a day! This makes jicama a fantastic addition to your keto diet because a lot of people on Keto have a hard time getting enough fibre and constipation is a common Keto complaint. A lot of the foods you’d traditionally count as full of fibre such as breakfast cereal, oatmeal and bread are not allowed on Keto because their overall carb count is too high.
Jicama is a low-calorie food that makes it great for anyone watching their waistline. A single cup serving of chopped Jicama contain only 49 calories! Because of its high-water content, Jicama is a low-calorie density food. Low calorie density foods are very important on Keto in order to fill you up and make you feel satiated at the end of your meal. The healthy fats that make up Keto are often high-density foods which means that you eat a lot less for the same number of calories that you would a low-calorie dense food such as Jicama. For example, you could eat a full cup of Jicama for 50 calories or you could eat 2 walnuts.
Jicama is a great source of healthy nutrients such as vitamin C, potassium, manganese, magnesium, folate and iron. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps protect your cells from free-radicals and promote the overall health of your cells.
Potassium and magnesium are electrolytes that help balance the flow of water into and out of your cells. Combined with the large amount of fibre this makes Jicama a fantastic friend to the health of your gut. The electrolytes help balance water while the fibre helps push food through your intestines, preventing constipation and increasing the healthy bacteria in your gut.
Iron is a nutrient that a lot of people don’t get enough of. Having an iron deficiency can prevent your body from making enough proteins in your red blood cells to carry oxygen around your body. Since everything in your body relies on getting oxygen you want to make sure that you’re getting enough iron in your diet.
Folate is an important nutrient that you’ve most likely heard of if you’ve ever been pregnant. For everyone else, folate is essential in preventing birth defects in unborn babies but it’s important for adults as well. A lack of folic acid in the system can also lead to anemia where your body can’t make enough protein in the red blood cells to transport oxygen. Since folate is water soluble and cannot be held and stored by your body you need to replenish your stores of it daily and Jicama is a great way to do that.
Is Jicama Keto friendly?
Yes, Jicama is a Keto-friendly alternative to potatoes and other root vegetables. In fact, because of the health benefits listed above, it’s probably a good idea to try to work it into your Keto meal plan even if you aren’t craving potatoes.
A single serving of one cup of diced Jicama has 11g of carbs. This might seem like a lot but do you remember the fibre that I mentioned above? There are 6g of fibre in a cup of Jicama which means that your net carb count is brought down to only 5g per serving. This seems a little more reasonable.
If you need to cut back on your carbs even more, stick with a ½ cup serving (which is a generous portion for a lot of people) and you’ll only be eating 2.5g of net carbs while reaping all of the many health benefits that this root vegetable has to offer.
How can you use Jicama?
This humble root vegetable is very versatile and extremely easy to work into a variety of meals on Keto. The following are some of the most popular ways to cook and eat Jicama that you can work into your Keto.
Just because you’re on Keto that doesn’t mean that you have to give up your mashed potatoes! Mashed Jicama is just as tasty. Simply peel and dice your jicama root into 1-2 inch sections and bring to a boil in a pot of water on the stove. Boil for roughly 20-30 minutes until it’s tender and can be pricked with a fork. You can then let your imagination run wild! Add in some garlic, butter, oil, cheese or spices and you have a delicious and very nutritious side dish.
Are you missing French fries on Keto? Jicama fries are easy, nutritious and a great tasting substitute for your favorite fries without the high number of carbs. To make Jicama fries, peel the root and slice it into long, fry-shaped sections. You can then spray it with the oil of your choice and toss it in some seasonings. Try spices like cinnamon and cloves for a sweeter fry, chili powder and cayenne for a spicy fry or oregano, basil and garlic for a savoury fry. Then pop them in the oven at 425F for 15 minutes, flip them and bake for another 15 minutes (or until crispy).
Carrots are a root veggie that are general too high in carbs to fit into your Keto meal plan. However, Jicama can be cut into carrot sized pieces and dipped in a yummy dressing or sprayed with a vinaigrette in order to mimic the crunch and taste of carrots and dip without the carbs.
If you’re looking for a replacement for your cabbage coleslaw, then Jicama fits the bill nicely. Shred the jicama as you would your carrots and cabbage and smother it in your favorite Keto-friendly coleslaw dressing for a quick, nutritious and tasty side to any meal.
Although you may never have heard of this unique root vegetable, it’s a worthy addition to your Keto diet. It can act as a low carb, healthy substitute for a variety of your old favorites such as potatoes and carrots. In addition you’ll get a super boost of nutritious fibre and prebiotics to keep your gut running smoothly so you can better enjoy your Keto.