Dr. Thomas Dwan - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Thomas Dwan

Is Jicama Bad For You?

Also Known As: Mexican yam bean, Mexican turnip



Short answer

Jicama is a nutrient-rich root vegetable that offers various health benefits. Low in calories and high in fiber, it aids in digestion, weight management, and cardiovascular health. Packed with vitamins and minerals, it supports skin, bone, and fetal health. Allergies to jicama are rare, but its inulin content may trigger sensitivities in some. Generally safe, jicama's interactions with medications are minimal, with caution advised for those on blood thinners or diabetes medications. Anti-nutrients in jicama are low and unlikely to impact nutrient absorption significantly.



Long answer

Nutritional Profile of Jicama and its Health Benefits

Jicama, a root vegetable native to Mexico and South America, is a crunchy and slightly sweet tuber that has become popular in various cuisines for its versatility and health benefits. Its nutritional profile is quite impressive, as jicama is low in calories but high in essential nutrients and fiber.

A 100-gram serving of raw jicama contains approximately:

  • Calories: 38 kcal
  • Protein: 0.72 g
  • Total Fat: 0.09 g
  • Carbohydrates: 8.82 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 4.9 g
  • Sugars: 1.80 g
  • Vitamin C: 20.2 mg (around 33% of the Daily Value)
  • Folate (Vitamin B9): 12 µg
  • Potassium: 150 mg
  • Magnesium: 12 mg
  • Calcium: 12 mg
  • Iron: 0.60 mg
  • Small amounts of other vitamins and minerals such as vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin B6, copper, and manganese

With its high water content and rich supply of dietary fiber, jicama is an excellent snack for those looking to manage their weight or support digestive health. Fiber, in particular, has been well-documented for its role in aiding digestion, preventing constipation, and maintaining a healthy gut. One study published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology suggests that a high-fiber diet can enhance gut health and reduce the risk of various diseases.

Jicama's notable vitamin C content provides powerful antioxidant benefits, important for preventing oxidative stress and inflammation, which are precursors to chronic diseases. Vitamin C is also crucial to the body's ability to produce collagen, which is vital for maintaining the integrity of skin, ligaments, and bones.

Additionally, jicama's rich content of essential minerals such as potassium can contribute to cardiovascular health by helping to regulate blood pressure levels. The magnesium found in jicama is also beneficial, as it is an important mineral for muscle and nerve function, as well as blood sugar control. Moreover, research evidence points to magnesium's role in maintaining bone health, as reported in the journal Bone Reports.

The presence of folate or vitamin B9 in jicama is another plus, especially for pregnant women, as it supports fetal development and can help prevent birth defects. Folate also plays a role in DNA synthesis and repair, contributing to overall cell health.

While raw jicama is most commonly consumed and contains the highest nutrient levels, it can also be cooked, which may alter its nutritional content slightly, although the changes are typically minimal. To retain the most health benefits, consuming jicama raw or lightly steamed is recommended.

In sum, due to its high fiber, low-calorie composition, and abundance of vitamins and minerals, jicama can be a beneficial addition to a balanced diet, contributing to various aspects of health from digestion to cardiovascular well-being.

Allergies and Sensitivities Related to Jicama

Discussing the potential for allergies and sensitivities related to jicama is critical for individuals considering integrating this root vegetable into their diet. Jicama, a tuber also known as Mexican yam bean or Mexican turnip, is not known to be a common allergen. However, as with any food, some people may experience adverse reactions, which are important to recognize and understand.

Firstly, it's essential to note that allergic reactions to jicama are quite rare. The majority of the population can consume jicama without experiencing any negative effects. In the realm of food allergies, most concerns revolve around what are known as the "Big Eight" allergens - milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans - and jicama is not part of this group.

However, in very rare cases, individuals may exhibit an allergy to jicama. Symptoms of food allergies can include:

  • Hives or a skin rash
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Itchy mouth or ear canal
  • Nasal congestion or a runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Throat tightness
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Wheezing or shortness of breath

When it comes to jicama, another factor to consider is sensitivity related to the inulin content. Inulin is a type of dietary fiber that acts as a prebiotic, promoting gut health. While beneficial for many, individuals with a sensitivity to inulin or those diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) may find that consuming jicama exacerbates symptoms like bloating, gas, or abdominal pain due to the fermentation of inulin by gut bacteria.

The peel of jicama contains a toxic compound called rotenone, naturally occurring in several plants. Consuming the peel or the plant's stem and leaves, which also contain this toxin, can cause harmful effects. Therefore, it's crucial to peel jicama properly before consumption to avoid any potential toxicity. Despite this, it's worth mentioning that the edible flesh of jicama is generally considered safe and non-toxic.

For those with sensitivities to inulin or fructooligosaccharides (FOS), another naturally occurring carbohydrate in jicama, caution is advised. Consultation with a healthcare provider or allergist is recommended if adverse reactions are suspected after consuming jicama.

Anecdotal reports and isolated cases of jicama allergies exist, but there is a scarcity of peer-reviewed research dedicated solely to jicama allergies. Thus, while reports are scarce, the potential for allergy or sensitivity should not be dismissed.

If you suspect you have a jicama allergy or sensitivity, it is advised to:

  • Remove jicama from your diet and monitor symptoms.
  • Seek medical advice and consider allergy testing for a definitive diagnosis.
  • Read food labels carefully as jicama may be an ingredient in prepackaged salads or other food items.

Remember, even though jicama allergies are rare, being cautious and attentive to your body's signals after trying new foods is always a sound approach to maintaining overall health and wellness.

Potential Interactions with Medications

Jicama is a crunchy, sweet tuberous root popular in Latin American cuisines and increasingly found in health-conscious diets worldwide. However, like any food, it's prudent to consider how it may interact with medications you're taking. While jicama is generally safe for most people, there are some points to be mindful of when it comes to drug interactions:

  • Diabetes Medications: Jicama has a low glycemic index and is high in fiber, which can be beneficial for blood sugar control. It can, however, affect blood sugar levels. When consumed in large amounts, it might enhance the blood sugar-lowering effects of diabetes medications, leading to hypoglycemia. As such, individuals on diabetic medication should monitor their blood sugar levels closely when including jicama in their diet.
  • Blood-Thinning Medications (Anticoagulants): Jicama contains a notable amount of vitamin K, which plays a crucial role in blood clotting. For individuals taking blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin), consistent vitamin K intake is necessary to prevent any interference with the medication’s effectiveness. Sudden changes in vitamin K intake may increase the risk of blood clots or bleeding. Therefore, if you're on an anticoagulant, keeping your jicama intake stable and communicating with your healthcare provider is advisable.
  • Immunosuppressants: Due to its high antioxidant content, jicama may theoretically strengthen the immune system. While this is usually a positive quality, it can be a concern for those on immunosuppressive therapy, as it may counteract the effects of these drugs. Patients who have had organ transplants or are on other forms of immunosuppression should consult their doctor about safe levels of jicama consumption.

As always, the potential for food-drug interactions is unique to each individual's health situation and medication regimen. It's important to discuss your diet and possible interactions with your healthcare provider, particularly if you have any underlying conditions or are on any long-term medications. Furthermore, since the body of research on jicama is not as extensive as for some other foods, staying informed with the latest studies and reports will help in making the most informed dietary choices.

It is also worth noting that consuming jicama in normal food quantities is unlikely to cause significant drug interactions for the majority of people. It's primarily when taken in large amounts that caution should be exercised. If you're in doubt, it is essential to consult with a healthcare professional who can provide personalized advice based on your health status and medication profile.

Anti-Nutrients in Jicama: Fact or Fiction?

When examining the safety and health impact of consuming jicama, an important aspect to consider is the presence of anti-nutrients. Anti-nutrients are compounds found naturally in various plant foods; they can interfere with the absorption of essential minerals and nutrients in the body.

First and foremost, let's break down the primary anti-nutrients found in jicama:

  • Oxalates: Oxalic acid is an organic compound found in many plants, including jicama, that can bind with minerals to form oxalates.
  • Phytates: Phytic acid, or phytate, often found in plant seeds, can decrease the absorption of iron, zinc, and calcium.
  • Saponins: These are bitter-tasting compounds that can inhibit nutrient absorption and cause digestive issues in some individuals.

However, it's important to highlight the nuance in the conversation about these anti-nutrients:

  • The levels of oxalates in jicama are considered to be low to moderate when compared to other high-oxalate foods like spinach or beet greens.
  • Phytates, although present, require consumption in large amounts to significantly hinder mineral absorption, which is unlikely with standard servings of jicama.
  • Saponins have a dual nature: they are typically found in the jicama skin, which is not commonly consumed, and their effects may vary from person to person.

A scientific perspective is crucial when evaluating the potential impact of anti-nutrients:

  • Studies have shown that the anti-nutrient activity could potentially be reduced through proper food processing techniques such as peeling, cooking, and fermenting.
  • Some research even suggests that in certain amounts, some anti-nutrients might have health-promoting effects, like antioxidant properties.

When consulting the literature on this topic, it's evident that the presence of anti-nutrients in jicama does not necessarily pose a health concern for most individuals, especially when consumed as part of a balanced diet. The bottom line is that the potential negative effects of anti-nutrients in jicama are often overstated and should not deter one from enjoying this nutritious root vegetable.

Frequently asked questions

While jicama contains oxalates, which can contribute to kidney stone formation, its oxalate levels are relatively low compared to other high-oxalate foods. However, individuals with a history of oxalate-related kidney stones should consult with their healthcare provider before adding jicama to their diet.

To reduce the potential impact of anti-nutrients, jicama should be properly peeled to remove the skin, which contains compounds like saponins. Cooking may also diminish anti-nutrient levels, although eating jicama raw is common and still provides significant nutritional benefits when part of a varied diet.

Jicama can be a suitable option for individuals on a ketogenic diet due to its low net carbohydrate content. While a 100-gram serving contains 8.82 grams of carbohydrates, the high dietary fiber content of 4.9 grams significantly reduces the net carbs, making it keto-friendly when consumed in moderation.

Inulin in jicama acts as a prebiotic, which is beneficial for gut health and can support healthy digestion. However, for individuals with sensitivities such as those with IBS, consuming inulin-rich foods like jicama may exacerbate symptoms like bloating and gas. Moderation and monitoring individual tolerance is key.

Ask a question about Jicama and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • nausea
  • stomach pain
  • diarrhea
  • hives or skin rash
  • itchy mouth
  • nasal congestion
  • sneezing
  • throat tightness
  • difficulty swallowing
  • wheezing or shortness of breath
  • bloating
  • gas
  • abdominal pain
  • hypoglycemia

Possible long-term side effects

  • potential nutrient malabsorption due to anti-nutrients

Ingredients to be aware of

  • inulin
  • fos
  • rotenone (in peel)
  • oxalates
  • phytates
  • saponins


  • low in calories
  • high in fiber
  • aids digestion
  • prevents constipation
  • maintains a healthy gut
  • provides antioxidants
  • supports skin, ligament, and bone health
  • contributes to cardiovascular health
  • important for muscle and nerve function
  • helps blood sugar control
  • supports bone health
  • crucial for fetal development
  • assists in dna synthesis and repair

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 12-13-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 12-13-2023

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