If you aspire to lose weight by following the keto diet, you will definitely work hard to reduce your carbohydrate intake by choosing keto-friendly fruits and vegetables. Chayote might be a great addition to the keto diet.
Chayote squash is a good source of antioxidants and essential nutrients that make it a healthy addition to almost any diet – but if you follow the keto diet, is Chayote considered keto friendly?
Here’s an overview of the nutritional facts and carb count for Chayote.
Also, can chayote be included in keto-friendly meals or not? Plus 10 amazing health benefits of Chayote and potential side effects.
What Is Chayote or Mexican Cucumber?
Chayote or Mexican cucumber is an edible plant from the genus Sechium of the Pumpkin family.
An ancient cultivated plant, known to the Aztecs, Mayans and other Indian tribes. Its homeland is considered to be Central America, it is cultivated in various countries with tropical and subtropical climates. The main supplier of chayote is the Republic of Costa Rica.
The chayote plant is a light-loving, moisture-loving and very heat-demanding crop. Prefers fertile soils.
You can add raw Chayote to salads or cook them in meat or vegetarian dishes.
The whole plant including the fruit, stem and leaves contains multiple nutrients and has Anti-Inflammatory properties that can aid in the treatment of high blood pressure, kidney stones and indigestion.
Chayote can also help support weight loss efforts, as it’s low in calories and fibrous.
Is chayote a vegetable or fruit?
Chayote squash (Sechium edule) is technically a Fruit but is eaten like a Vegetable.
In this case, the Mexican chayote cucumber is a fairly versatile food product. It can be consumed as squash, cucumber or melon.
Possessing a delicate sweetish taste similar to zucchini, it becomes not only an ingredient in vegetable and fruit salads. Add it to meat dishes.
The dried leaves of the plant can be used to make teas.
Ripe fruits are usually not suitable for food but go for seeds. As a consequence, immature chayote:
- added to vegetable oil for flavoring;
- fried (while the taste will resemble fried mushrooms, and if you use only tubers – fried potatoes);
- added to stews, sautés and mashed potatoes, where tomatoes, zucchini, eggplants are present;
- used to create canned salads with white onions;
- added to baked goods (mashed potatoes are mixed either with the dough, or the filling is made from it; a good combination is obtained with cinnamon).
Stewed young stems and leaves are added to sauces with a wide variety of spices, soups, and are also used as a side dish for meat and fish dishes (first, the product must be boiled).
Starchy tubers are quite suitable for flour production.
In general, the taste of Mexican cucumber is suitable for almost any product.
Chayote goes well with cheese, chili peppers, bread crumbs, bacon, onions, including green onions, and shrimps.
Due to its dense pulp, it requires a longer cooking time: 30 to 40 minutes.
When used in filling or baked goods, the rind can be left on. You just need to cut the fruit and blanch until it becomes soft. Then the pulp can be removed with a spoon.
Don’t throw away pits that have the nutty flavor of almonds.
If using chayote for stir-fry or salads, remove the tough skin using a knife or vegetable peeler.
Some varieties have a sticky substance under the skin that irritates some people. If you are one of them, just peel the fruit under running cold water.
What Are the Benefits of Chayote?
Chayote is rich in a variety of nutrients and antioxidants that confer many potential health benefits.
Here are 10 impressive health benefits of chayote.
1. Rich in nutrients
One of the greatest attributes of chayote is its nutritional value, as it contains various vitamins, minerals and fiber that the human body needs.
One chayote (200 grams) provides the following nutrients:
- Calories: 39 kcal
- Carbohydrates: 9 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Fat : 0 grams
- Fiber: 4 grams – 14% of the recommended daily intake (RDI)
- Vitamin C: 26% of the RDI
- Vitamin B9 (folate) : 47% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 10% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 8% of the RDI
- Manganese: 19% of the DV
- Copper: 12% of the DV
- Zinc: 10% of the DV
- Potassium: 7% of the DV
- Magnesium: 6% of the DV
It is noteworthy that chayote is especially rich in folate, which promotes proper cell division.
Along with its nutrient density, chayote is also low in calories, fat, sodium, and carbohydrates. As such, it’s healthy enough for a variety of meal plans.
2. Contains powerful antioxidants
Many of the benefits of chayote can be attributed to the antioxidants it contains.
Antioxidants are compounds found in various foods that protect against cell damage, reduce inflammation, and reduce stress in your body [*].
Mexican cucumber chayote provides the human body with antioxidants such as quercetin, myricetin, morin, and kaempferol.
Of these, myricetin is present in the largest quantities. Research shows that myricetin has strong anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Plus, chayote is an excellent source of vitamin C, which serves as an antioxidant in your body.
3. May Promote Heart Health
Eating chayote can improve some of the risk factors for heart diseases, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and poor circulation.
Animal and test-tube studies show that chayote compounds can help relax blood vessels, thereby improving blood flow and lowering blood pressure.
Myricetin, a well-known antioxidant in chayote, has also been shown to lower cholesterol levels in some animal studies.
Plus, Mexican cucumber is a good source of fiber, providing approximately 14% of the RDI. A higher intake of fiber-rich foods such as chayote has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease.
4. May help control blood sugar
Chayote is low in carbohydrates and high in soluble fiber, which may help regulate blood sugar.
Soluble fiber slows down the digestion and absorption of carbohydrates, which helps maintain post-meal blood sugar in a healthy range.
Chayote may also improve blood sugar control by acting on insulin.
Insulin resistance is a condition that occurs when your cells become less sensitive to insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels.
This condition leads to a gradual rise in blood sugar levels and can eventually lead to diabetes.
Research shows that the unique plant compounds in chayote may play a role in increasing your insulin sensitivity by reducing the activity of enzymes associated with poor blood sugar control and type 2 diabetes.
5. May Support Healthy Pregnancy
Folate, or vitamin B9, is essential for all people, but especially for pregnant women or those planning to become pregnant.
In early pregnancy, folate is essential for proper fetal brain and spinal cord development. Adequate folate intake may also play a role in preventing premature birth [*].
Chayote is an excellent source of folate, providing more than 40% of the RDI in a single fruit.
Thus, including chayote and other folate-rich foods in a balanced diet is a great way to support a healthy pregnancy.
6. May have anti-cancer properties
Higher consumption of fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of various cancers, including those of the gastrointestinal tract.
While these results are promising, current evidence is not conclusive enough to understand whether chayote has anti-cancer effects in humans.
Ultimately, more research is needed.
7. May slow down the visible signs of aging
One of the main theories of aging is based on molecules called free radicals that wreak havoc on your cells, ultimately resulting in decreased functionality over time.
Some research suggests that consuming foods high in antioxidants can slow down the aging process by protecting cells from free radical damage.
Chayote is rich in antioxidants, one of which is vitamin C.
In addition to its antioxidant power, vitamin C is required for the production of collagen, one of the main proteins found in your skin. Collagen gives skin firmness and youthfulness.
Thus, adequate intake of vitamin C-rich foods such as chayote can help reduce the visible signs of aging.
What’s more, a recent test-tube study showed a strong protective effect of chayote extract on human skin cells from UV-related damage.
Ultimately, further research is needed into the effects of chayote on skin health.
8. May support liver function
Fatty liver disease is a condition in which excess fat is stored in the liver tissue. Excess fat in the liver can affect its ability to function properly.
Both test-tube and animal studies show that chayote extract may protect against liver fat accumulation, thus potentially preventing or eliminating the fatty liver disease.
In one study, rats fed a high-fat diet that received chayote extract had significantly lower liver cholesterol and fatty acid levels than control rats. This has been associated with apparent changes in the function of enzymes involved in fat metabolism.
More research is needed to understand how chayote can support liver health in humans.
9. May Promote Healthy Weight
Mexican cucumber chayote is very low in calories but high in fiber, which may help maintain optimal body weight.
Whole chayote (200 grams) provides 39 calories and 4 grams of fiber. Fiber slows down the rate at which your stomach empties and makes you feel full for longer, which can lower your food intake and promote weight loss.
What’s more, research shows that fiber intake can increase levels of satiety hormones such as GLP-1 and the YY peptide.
Thus, including chayote in your diet can help you keep up with your weight loss goals.
10. May support digestive health
Your gastrointestinal tract is responsible for several important functions, including detoxification, immunity, and nutrient digestion and absorption.
Consuming fruits and vegetables such as chayote can improve digestive function.
Flavonoids – plant compounds that support digestion – are abundant in chayote.
Research shows that foods rich in flavonoids aid digestive enzymes involved in removing and clearing waste products from your gastrointestinal tract.
What’s more, adequate intake of fiber-rich foods such as chayote can promote healthy bowel function and maintain healthy gut bacteria.
Risks and Side Effects
Chayote can only cause harm if you are hypersensitive. No other contraindications were found for this vegetable.
After learning about the health benefits and side effects of Chayote. Let’s find out if Chayote is keto friendly.
Is Chayote Keto Friendly?
Before answering whether Chayote is keto friendly or not. Let’s find out a little bit about the ketogenic diet.
Try to remember that keto is high in fat, moderate in protein, and very low in carbohydrates. Your nutrient intake should be around 70% fat, 25% protein, and 5% carbohydrates to stay in ketosis.
What is the state of ketosis? Ketosis is a process that occurs when your body does not have enough carbohydrates to burn for energy.
Is chayote keto friendly? Yes. Chayote is keto friendly as it is low in carbs. It’s also minimally processed and free of harmful ingredients.
Chayote is a good choice for the keto diet because it is low in net carbs (2.29 grams of net carbs per 100 grams).
Chayote is low in fat so be sure to supplement it with foods high in healthy fats on the keto diet.
Your body uses fat as energy while on Ketosis so it’s important to include healthy fat sources in your diet.
Examples of the most important sources of healthy fats for the keto diet: olive oil, herbal butter, and MCT oil.
* If you are looking for other keto-friendly vegetables that are low in carbohydrates like chayote, here’s a list of the following:
* Knowing that Chayote is keto-friendly and has many health benefits. You may also need some other advice to purchase and store it.
How to choose and store chayote
When buying chayote, choose fruits that are firm to the touch and have a bright color. Wrinkles and grooves on the skin are normal, but they should not be soft or loose. Basic requirements for choosing when buying:
- Solid to the touch;
- No scratches;
- Small dents are allowed.
The ideal place for storing chayote is the refrigerator, in which the product can be stored for up to three weeks (the main thing is to pack the fruits in paper bags).