Stefanie Sacks, Culinary Nutritionist and author of What the Fork Are You Eating? An Action Plan for Your Pantry and Plate talks about how small steps in changi…
Have you ever wondered what this wobbly vegetable that looks a bit like a turnip painted beige is? It certainly does not have a bright rainbow color so sought after in an anti-oxidant rich anti-cancer diet.
Jicama root, native to Mexico, may not be as phytonutrient rich as many others in the vegetable kingdom, but it serves a very important purpose that makes it a staple in my conquering cancer kitchen.
What is Jicama?
Jicama (pronounced “hee-pause-kama”) is actually the underground tuber of a legume. After peeling, it reveals a crunchy, ivory flesh that tastes slightly sweet. It is a low calorie food, made up of almost 90% water and rivals watermelon in this regard.
Nevertheless, it boasts high levels of Vitamin C, fiber, potassium and a trace mineral we usually do not hear a lot about – molybdenum.
Molybdenum plays a critical role in the formation of an enzyme called sulfite oxidase which plays a key role in a vital sulfoxidation liver detoxification pathway. Impaired sulfoxidation can lead to chronic inflammation, something we cancer survivors want to avoid.
What makes Jicama indispensable though is that it is a valuable gut health promoting pre-biotic food. Jicama is high in inulin, a carbohydrate-based source of fiber belonging to the group of fructooligosaccharides (FOS). FOSs are found as “resistant starch” in the fiber of many vegetables. Unlike most carbs, they do not act as fuel for energy, but rather move through our digestive system all the way to the colon where they serve to feed our healthy gut bacteria, both the Lactobacilli as well as Bifidobacteria species. They also help to reduce any harmful bacteria by increasing butyrate, a desired short-chained fatty acid, and they help eliminate toxins.
Healthy Gut and Cancer
A healthy gut environment is essential in cancer care as it helps prevent gut dysbiosis, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, SIBO and helps regulate bowel function and nutrient absorption.
How to enjoy this little tuber?
As the peel is inedible, make sure to always peel Jicama either with a sharp knife or a vegetable peeler. Sometimes, the first flesh under the peel is a little fibrous, and benefits from peeling too.
Kirstin’s Tip: Jicama does not turn brown when peeled, so it can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the fridge in a tightly sealed container in a little water to retain crispness.
Watermelon Jicama Salad
Combine in a bowl that offsets the colors nicely (glass, white or blue)
Mix until well combined and creamy.
Add to chopped ingredients, fold gently.
Keeps in fridge for up to 3 days.
Sabater-Molina M, Larqué E, Torrella S, Zamora S. “Dietary fructooligosaccharides and potential benefits on health”, Journal of Physiology and Biochemistry, 2009, Vol 65, Page 315
Li P, Burr GS, Gatlin DM 3rd, Hume ME, Patnaik S, Castille FL, Lawrence AL. “Dietary supplementation of short-chain fructooligosaccharides influences gastrointestinal microbiota composition and immunity characteristics of Pacific white shrimp, Litopenaeus vannamei, cultured in a recirculating system”, J Nutr. 2007 Dec;137(12):2763-8
Blaut, M, “Relationship of prebiotics and food to intestinal microflora”, European J of Nutr. 10/2002, Volume 41, Supplement 1, pp i11–i16
Staying Healthy with Nutrition by Elson M Haas MD with Buck Levin PhD, 2006 edition
Herbal Medicine, Healing and Cancer by Donald R. Yance Jr. C.N., M.H., A.H.G. with Arlene Valentine
The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Wood The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods by Michael Murray, ND
Kirstin, received her Holistic Nutrition, Exercise and Mental Health Certification at the Institute for Naturopathic Health in Munich, Germany and is board certified by the American Association of Nutrition Consultants, accredited as a Holistic Health Coach by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners, and is a member of the National Association of Nutrition Professionals.
Kirstin is an empathetic cancer mentor, speaker and educator who is passionate about helping people get out of cancer overwhelm by teaching them how to reclaim their lives. A two-time cancer survivor herself, she learned first hand the importance of an integrative and functional medicine approach to one’s health to facilitate true healing.
Kirstin offers individualized 1 on 1 mentoring, can be hired for inspirational speaking engagements and produces interactive virtual programs such as the Beyond Cancer Program™.
She is also the bestselling author of “Confessions of a Cancer Conqueror – My 5 Step Process to Transform Your Relationship with Cancer”, is a co-host for the #AllThingsCancer podcast, a monthly guest-blogger for The Anti-Cancer Club, has featured frequently in a variety of holistic Internet Radio Shows and online Podcasts and was a monthly contributing author for the online Sybil Magazine – For the Spirit and Soul of Woman.
Born in Switzerland, raised in Germany and South Africa, she now lives in NJ with her husband and two teenage children.
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