By Gary, on March 4th, 2013
If “H” is for Hummus and “I” is for Iodine then
“J” is for Jicama
Jicama is pronounced hecama and is normally grown in many parts of Central American, South Asian, Caribbean, and some Andean South American regions. It is a leafy bean-like plant with tubers. The tubers are edible, the remainder of the plant: leaves, beans and stems are not, they are highly poisonous and used sometimes to be a pesticide. Therefore, only eat the tubers. The root (tuber) looks like a beige, over sized turnip, yellow and papery. The inside is white with a crisp texture that resembles a raw potato or pear. However, the flavor is like an apple, sweet and starchy.
It is found in your fresh vegetable (produce) area of your grocery store. It is very affordable and high in fiber and Vitamin C. It is low in sodium and has a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. Being low in calorie count, it is a great snack when trying to lose weight or a great addition to any salad, fruit or vegetable. You can slice and dip in salsa, too.
Jicama is usually eaten raw, sometimes with salt, lemon, or lime juice and chili powder. Jicama is also sometimes cooked in soups and stir-fried dishes. When cooking jicama, other flavorful ingredients are added such as chili powder, cilantro, ginger, lemon, lime, oranges, red onion, salsa, sesame oil, grilled fish, and soy sauce. In Mexico, jicama is a popular ingredient in salads, fresh fruit combos, fruit bars, soups, and several other dishes.
Jicama plant contains significant levels of fat-soluble organic toxin, rotenone. It is concentrated especially in the leaf tops, stems and seed pods and at much lower levels in the roots. Several studies found that it is linked to the development of Parkinson’s disease. However, peeled roots are safe for human consumption, including in children. Rotenone works at cellular level inhibiting several metabolic enzymes like NADH dehydrogenase in the mitochondria. Outside, it is used as environmentally safe broad-spectrum insecticide, piscicide (to poison fish), and pesticide.