Fruits & Vegetables Herbs & Plants

Jicama ( Sankalu)

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Botanical Name:Pachyrhizus erosus Blanco

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Genus: Pachyrhizus
Species: P. erosus

Other Names:Spanish: hee-kah-mah, from Nahuatl xicamatl hee-kah-mahtl, also Mexican Potato and Mexican Turnip,is the name of a native Mexican vine, although the name most commonly refers to the plant‘s edible tuberous root. Jicama is one species in the genus Pachyrhizus that is commonly called yam bean, although the “yam bean” sometimes is another name for Jicama. The other, major species of yam beans arealso indigenous within the Americas. In India it is called Sankalu


Habitat :Jicama  is native to maxico but now it grows in  many tropical cuntries

Description:The jicama vine can reach a height of 4-5 metres given suitable support. Its root can attain lengths of up to 2 m and weigh up to 20 kilograms. The root’s exterior is yellow and papery, while its inside is creamy white with a crisp texture that resembles raw potato or pear. The flavor is sweet and starchy, reminiscent of some apples, and it is usually eaten raw, sometimes with salt, lemon, or lime juice and chili powder. It is also cooked in soups and stir-fried dishes.

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Jicama is a tropical plant and thus requires at least 9 months of warm growing season for good sized roots to mature. However, if soil is rich, light and there is at least 4 months of warm weather available, the resulting roots will be smaller, but still quite delicious. Presoak seeds in water for about 24 hours before planting. Can be started indoors about 8 to 10 weeks before the last spring frost. Transplant into your garden as soon is weather is warm, but be careful where you plant it as the ripe pods, leaves and seeds are toxic and narcotic. Care should be taken so that no humans or animals will mistakenly eat these parts. The immature seed pods are edible as well as of course the turnip like roots for which it is grown. Can be grown near a trellis for support or like pole beans. Can also be grown on the ground but then requires a lot of space. When they grow to about 3 feet tall, pinch the tips to promote horizontal branches. Tubers form as the days grow shorter and should be harvested before the first frost. If you allow the plants to go to seed, the root lobes will be small. Blossoms appear in late summer, but can be pinched out for maximum root growth.

Due to its growing popularity, cultivation of jícama has recently spread from Mexico to other parts of Central America, China and Southeast Asia where notable uses of raw jícama include popiah and salads such as yusheng and rojak. Jícama has become popular in Vietnamese food,  In Mexico it is very popular in salads, fresh fruit combos, fruit bars, soups, and other cooked dishes.

Edible Uses:

Standard Uses: This is an unusual vegetable that is becoming increasingly popular with American cooks, but has been grown in its native Mexico for centuries. More and more U.S. supermarkets are now carrying this turnip shaped, usually four lobed root. Its skin is a brownish gray, but its flesh is white and crisp. It’s flavor resembles that of water chestnuts but is sweeter. Makes a great appetizer and is a very good addition in both taste and texture when added to salads.

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While many vegetables and fruits are common, others are not, but that doesn’t mean they’re not an excellent food – just unfamiliar. For one thing, jicama plants thrive in tropical regions.

Like other foods, jicama contains real culinary goodness: sliced and baked, julienned in salad, chopped in stir-fries and soups, and mixed with other veggies and fruits to emphasize its sweetness or starchy texture. Just remember to eat only the root, since the other parts may be toxic.

So if you haven’t experienced jicama in your dining repertoire, you have everything to gain – and if you’re actually hoping to lose, this might be your new favorite.

You may click to see:->Expanding Your Pantry: Jicama

Jicama : Kitchen & Cooking Tips

Health benefits, and the common uses for Jicama in cooking.

Medicinal Uses: .

Low in calories but high in a few vital nutrients, jicama is a bit of a contradiction when it comes to its starch content. It provides one-quarter of what’s needed daily in fiber per serving. But not just any fiber – jicama’s fiber is infused with oligofructose inulin, which has zero calories and doesn’t metabolize in the body. Inulin, a fructan, promotes bone health by enhancing absorption of calcium from other foods, protecting against osteoporosis. Inulin has a prebiotic role in the intestine – it promotes “good” bacteria growth that maintains both a healthy colon and balanced immunity. Because it has a very low glycemic index, jicama is a great food for diabetics, and low in calories for those interested in weight reduction.

Jicama is also an excellent source of fiber and vitamin C – 44% of the daily value per serving – and a powerful antioxidant that zaps free radicals to protect against cancer, inflammation, viral cough, cold, and infections.

Jicama is starchy. The most interesting health benefit related to jicama is the inulin, which studies have shown can protect against osteoarthritis, and have a positive impact on colorectal cancer, especially when eaten during its early stages. Studies are increasing on this root veggie that has until recently been quite overlooked.

Besides healthy amounts of potassium, this little powerhouse can help promote heart health, since high-potassium vegetables and fruit are linked to lower risks of heart disease. Jicama contains important vitamins like folates, riboflavin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, and thiamin, and the minerals magnesium, copper, iron, and manganese. Like potatoes, they should be used sparingly due to the high carbohydrates content.

Other Uses:

Jicama is a vine plant that makes an attractive ornament, deserving a place in your flower garden. It blooms profusely with white to lavender colored flowers that resemble sweet peas. Its leaves are heart shaped and & see

Studies on Jicama:

A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2005 showed that foods containing inulin, such as jicama, lower colon cancer risks in several ways, which include reducing exposure as well as the toxic impact of carcinogens in the gut, and inhibiting the growth and spread of colon cancer to other areas of the body. Scientists concluded that inulin-type fructans may reduce colorectal cancer incidence when given during early stages of cancer development.

Jícama is high in carbohydrates in the form of dietary fiber. It is composed of 86-90% water; it contains only trace amounts of protein and lipids. Its sweet flavour comes from the oligofructose inulin (also called fructo-oligosaccharide).


Known Hazards:The leaves, ripe seed pods and seeds are toxic and narcotic  .  In contrast to the root, the remainder of the jícama plant is very poisonous; the seeds contain the toxin rotenone, which is used to poison insects and fish.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.



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Featured News on Health & Science

Keep Weight Sway At Bay

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Loosing weight may be easy; it’s keeping it off that is difficult. Scientists now have a better understanding of long-term weight maintenance:


In her 39 years, Claudia Hallblom has, by her own estimation, lost and regained nearly 455 kilograms.

Her success at losing weight was always driven by a goal, such as looking nice for her graduation or wedding. Her tactics usually included strict calorie counting. But her success was always fleeting. Sooner or later, she would revert to her old habits and no longer feel motivated to change.

“I didn’t know how to lose weight and keep it off,” the Downey, California, woman says.

Most people can lose weight. But few can maintain it. Researchers are now tackling that problem, and what they’re learning is disconcerting. The human body is designed to sabotage weight loss at every turn — once a body has been fatter, it wants to revert to what it used to be. Physiology is cruelly changed in two ways: the body needs fewer calories to maintain itself, but its craving for food is more intense.

Keeping the pounds at bay means pitting one’s willpower against several biological processes involving the brain, hormones, metabolism and fat storage.

“There is a big shift toward understanding long-term weight maintenance,” says Paul MacLean, associate professor of medicine at the University of Colorado, Denver. “You can easily lose weight; the big problem is keeping it off.”

However, scientists think that understanding the stubborn biological processes at work will lead to ways to fight back.

Exercise buffers the post-diet body against regaining weight, in ways that researchers are just starting to comprehend. Certain foods may help stave off weight regain too. And medications now in development target some of the biochemistry thought to be linked to regaining weight.

“There are strong physiological adaptations to weight loss that promote weight regain,” MacLean says.

Human biology is designed to protect against weight loss and potential starvation. After a period of obesity, the body may permanently alter the way weight is regulated by more aggressively stimulating appetite and signalling the body to protect fat stores.

Metabolism has changed: the body now needs about eight fewer calories per day for each pound of weight that is lost. This difference in energy needs before and after weight loss has been dubbed the “energy gap”.

Appetite hormones change too. The hormone leptin, for example, is a major appetite regulator; it tells the body to stop eating and store fat after meals. Some people may be genetically prone to having lower leptin levels, making them more prone to obesity. But studies also show that, after a weight loss, leptin levels are lower than what they used to be. That means appetite is less easily quelled.

Another hormone, ghrelin, stimulates food intake. Its levels in the brain fall after a meal. However, after a weight loss, ghrelin levels generally increase, and the fall after mealtimes isn’t as marked.

“You lose 10 per cent of your body weight. All of a sudden all these systems kick in to try to keep you from losing weight,” says Dr Ken Fujioka, director of nutrition and metabolic research at the Scripps Clinic in San Diego. “People are mad at themselves or depressed after they regain the weight. But I explain: it’s not you. Biology has kicked in… You are hungry all the time.”

And the weight comes back fast. “You may look like a lean person, but your body hasn’t changed inside,” says MacLean.

Moreover, animal studies show that most of the regained weight is distributed as visceral fat, the abdominal paunch that is linked to heart disease and diabetes.

So what is a dieter to do?

“There is nothing we know of that does anything to reverse this,” says Fujioka.

But it’s not impossible. Based on data from more than 7,000 people, Rena Wing, director of the weight control and diabetes research centre at Brown Medical School, says there are few similarities in how people lose weight. But those who succeed in maintenance sing the same song. Instead of trying to eat less for the rest of their lives to bridge the energy gap, these people exercise more.

Physical activity influences some of the biological systems that promote weight regain, encouraging the body to become more sensitive to leptin and insulin, for example.

The successful maintainers also change what they eat: the registry found that they keep their calories in careful balance with what they expend. They also tend to eat low-fat foods.

But there may be more nuances to food choices than that. “We’re getting more interested in studies that look at food composition,” Fujioka says. “It could be that eating certain nutrients may also help the system work better.”

Scientists don’t know how long it would take to return the physiological responses of a once-obese body to normal — or if, indeed, that ever is quite possible.

Studies do show, however, that weight regain is most likely in the first couple of years after weight loss.

“After that, it’s as if you master the technique,” Wing says.

The current research strongly points to two messages: don’t gain excess weight in the first place, and if you do, be prepared to make permanent lifestyle changes to lose it and maintain the loss.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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