Superfood Series A-Z: Jicama and Jalapeño Peppers

Moving onto the letter 'J' in the STACK superfood series, meet jicama and jalapeño, and learn why your diet needs to include them.

Jicama

Jicama, or "yam bean," is a root vegetable, originally grown in Central and South America. It has a sweet and crispy texture, similar to a water chestnut. Jicama is extremely low in calories (35 calories in 100 g), and it's a great source of vitamin C, which supports a healthy immune system; potassium, crucial for cardiovascular health; vitamin E, which protects against cancer and cardiovascular failure; and essential minerals like iron, copper and magnesium.

Jicama also has a significant amount of soluble fiber content, more than most vegetables. (Find out why fiber is important for athletes.) The most important benefits of jicama for athletes are: it delivers pure glucose, providing the body with quick energy from carbohydrates; and it consists mostly of water. (Check out more rehydrating foods.)

Want to give it a try? Here are the "Top 10 Ways to Enjoy Jicama," from Fruits & Veggies More Matters.

Jalapeño Peppers

Jalapeño peppers, used mostly for seasoning food, offer several health benefits. They fight inflammation; reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels; contribute to a strong metabolism; and deliver necessary iron, as well as vitamins A and C. Plus, the calorie content of a jalapeño pepper is negligible.

The intense spiciness of the jalapeño is attributed to its main ingredient, capsaicin, which works as a cleansing agent to fight congestion and bacteria in your sinuses. Certain studies have linked capsaicin to the inhibition of a key brain pain transmitter known as Substance P. Eating jalapeños can help you breathe easier and ward off migraine headaches. It's also possible that the "pain" of tasting capsaicin stimulates the release of those feel-good endorphins in the brain.

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