J

icama is a circular root vegetable with white flesh and a thin brown skin and is often eaten raw. Sometimes referred to as the Mexican water chestnut or Chinese turnip, jicama has a sweet, nutty flavor and a juicy, crunchy texture.

ATTRIBUTES
Jicama boasts an impressive nutrient content with almost half of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin C in a single serving, plus folate, iron and potassium. This root veggie also boasts a very high water and fiber content, and it's low in calories. And it's packed with antioxidants including vitamin E and beta-carotene.

SUPERPOWERS
As a veggie high in water content and fiber, but low in fat and calories, jicama is a satisfying but weightloss-friendly food. Additionally, all that fiber is great for gut health and promotes digestion. Jicama is also good for the heart. The soluble fiber may help reduce cholesterol, while iron and copper help keep red blood cells healthy. A small study of adults found that consumption of jicama juice was linked with a reduction in blood clots.

WEAKNESSES
Jicama can't grow freely in much of America, since it needs consistent warm weather and no frost in the cooler months, so unfortunately, you won't easily find this veggie at our local farms here in the Northwest. Even if you can get it to grow, beware — the greens and beans this plant grows above ground are toxic to humans and other animals, so make sure to only stick to consuming the root portion.

HOW TO USE IT
Jicama is most commonly eaten raw, which is the best way to preserve all of its nutrients. It can be added to your next salad for a sweet and juicy crunch or eaten plain with a squeeze of lime and just a sprinkle of salt. Its unique flavor complements either fruit or veggie mixes, and this versatile root can be cut, sliced or diced to make a refreshing, healthy addition to any party platter.

Stacey Aggarwal received a Ph.D. in pharmacology from the University of Washington. Now she writes about biology, health and nutrition while running a lavender farm in North Idaho.

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