There’s a food out there that belongs with the gourd family, but actually looks more like a big green pepper. In certain parts of the world, this food is known as the choko, pipinola and many other names. The most common name, though, is the chayote. The Chayote grows across the world and has increased in popularity here in the United States. Chayote is similar to different forms of squash, though it can be a bit tougher to eat raw.
Most of the time, chayote is instead cooked and added to different foods, including many different salsa recipes. As long as you’re preparing chayote in a healthier way (and not fried), you’ll be getting some solid nutrition in your diet. Chayote might be overlooked for its uses, but today it’s no longer ignored. Here is a closer look at the nutritional value you get from chayote, as well as the proven health benefits that it brings.
Nutrition of Chayote
Those watching their calorie intake will certainly be able to add chayote to any diet, as one serving contains fewer than 40 calories. With a gram of protein and nearly 20 percent of your daily recommendation for fiber, that’s pretty good for such a low calorie count. When it comes to the vitamins you get from each serving, chayote presents about one quarter of your daily recommendation for vitamin C. On top of that, chayote is also a good source in vitamin B6, folate and pantothenic acid, all around 10 percent daily value.
Other vitamins in smaller amounts (around five percent) include vitamin A, thiamin, riboflavin and niacin. In the mineral department, manganese is the big one here with 15 percent daily value, while copper and potassium are right behind at 10 percent daily value. Magnesium, phosphorus and zinc check in at around five percent, as well. There’s under one gram of fat in chayote and no cholesterol as a final bonus.
Slimmer By the Day
When you’re trying to lose weight, obviously the first thing you need to look at is controlling the amount of calories that you’re taking in. Since chayote contains only around 40 calories per serving, it makes for a great substitution compared to other foods you might be eating. Let’s say, for example, that you replace a single 200 calorie snack per day with one serving of chayote, while not changing anything else about your diet.
That change alone will result in nearly 60,000 calories saved per year, and more than 16.6 pounds in fat lost. It might sound tough to feel satisfied with just a 40 calorie snack, but you’d be surprised. Since chayote contains plenty of water and fiber (especially compared to processed snack foods), you’ll be able to feel more full throughout the day. It’s a perfect way to kick cravings and avoid overeating, which could sabotage any diet rather quickly.
The most abundant vitamin that you’ll find in chayote is vitamin C, with close to 25 percent of the daily recommended value. That alone is going to give your immune system a nice boost as you produce more white blood cells with a higher vitamin C level. It’s certainly the first vitamin that people recommend when you think you’re starting to come down with a cold or the flu. The antioxidants also help to prevent more serious illnesses.
The reason for that is the antioxidants in chayote help to fight the free radicals found in the body which can attack your cells, mutating the DNA to cause cancer. Speaking of DNA, the folate found within chayote can help synthesize your DNA and make helpful cell division more efficient. Finding foods high in folate can be a bit difficult, so chayote is certainly one of the better sources out there.
Some of the particular forms of cancer that you can help prevent by eating more chayote is in your digestive system. Since chayote contains a solid amount of dietary fiber, you’ll lower your risk for colon and stomach cancers. Getting enough fiber in your diet creates helpful bacteria known as probiotics, which get rid of the harmful bacteria that can be the root cause for some of these diseases.
Getting enough fiber in your diet will also make you feel better throughout the day as you won’t be bogged down with problems such as constipation and diarrhea. With more regularity and less waste comes an improved metabolism and increased energy level, further aiding in weight loss. As an added bonus, people with high fiber diets are less likely to have problems with blood sugar regulation and diabetes.
Skin and Bones
Chayote helps provide a big boost to both your skin health and bone health thanks to the beneficial vitamins. Starting with the skin, the vitamin C found in chayote naturally boosts collagen production in the body. This increases the elasticity of the skin, while antioxidants fight off free radicals that cause early signs of aging such as wrinkles and spots. Other vitamins found in smaller amounts also give you a better complexion, especially combined with an overall healthy diet.
As for your bones, chayote provides plenty of manganese that isn’t found too frequently in high amounts in other foods. Manganese increases the density in your bones, and it’s essential that elderly people get enough in their diet to prevent osteoporosis. A small amount of vitamin K also provides a nice building block for bone health, allowing you to absorb more calcium in the bones.
Taking care of your brain is something that you need to do on a daily basis, which can be done by eating more foods like chayote. With a strong amount of potassium that supports your nervous system function, you’re less likely to lose this function as you age. The manganese in chayote provides a further boost, while also allowing the neurotransmitters in the body to work more efficiently and producing better cognitive function. Overall, these minerals are vital if you want to prevent age-related neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s in your future.
Summing it Up
All of these amazing health benefits are possible when you’re adding chayote into your diet, but are there any drawbacks when doing so? Chayote can be a bit difficult to find in countries like the United States during certain parts of the year, and really are only available throughout the winter. In certain parts of the world, however, chayote is available year round and usually have a shelf-life for up to three weeks.
One thing you have to look out for with chayote is if you have a latex allergy, chayote could produce some negative results. That’s because the outer coating has a sticky latex-like layer that some people might be allergic to. If that’s the case, you’ll just need to wear gloves when handling chayote and make sure to clean off the outer shell very thoroughly. Outside of that, there’s no real negative to eating chayote, so go ahead and feel free to add this wonderful vegetable to your diet and start enjoying the benefits today!