Chayote is scientifically known as Sechium edule, it is a climbing plant belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family. It was initially grown in Mexico and Guatemala and later introduced to the United States, Europe, Africa, China and South-Asian countries. Nowadays, it is grown throughout the world in tropical and subtropical areas.1
There are two major varieties of chayote plants, namely, the common chayote and the wild type. Commonly chayote is known by different names such as vegetable pear, choco, chow-chow, custard marrow, Mexican squash, Chayote squash, alligator pear, mirliton and maerakkai (in Tamil).
The plant’s edible parts are its fruits, stems, leaves, and roots. Chayote fruits are bright green and pear-shaped. There are many medicinal benefits of chayote owing to the bioactive compounds such as sterols, cucurbitacins and polyphenol compounds present in it.1 Let’s discuss the chayote nutrition facts and benefits in detail!
Nutritional Value of Chayote
Chayote has high nutrient value and is loaded with essential vitamins, minerals, fibres and antioxidants. According to the US Department of Agriculture, the nutritional value of Chayote is as follows:2
|Nutrient||Amount per 100 gm|
|Total lipid (fat)||0.13 g|
|Fibre, total dietary||1.7 g|
|Sugars, total including NLEA||1.66 g|
|Vitamin C||7.7 mg|
|Pantothenic acid||0.249 mg|
|Vitamin B-6||0.076 mg|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)||0.12 mg|
|Vitamin K (phylloquinone)||4.1 µg|
Table 1: nutritional value of chayote (100 gms)
Properties of Chayote:
Chayote squash might have the following properties: 1
- It might stop the growth of cancerous cells.
- It may help alleviate the reaction of the body to any injury or irritation.
- It may act against microbial infections. It may lower blood sugar levels.
- It may lower weight gain.
- It may reduce ulcer formation.
- Chayote may be an antioxidant.
- It may act against the deposition of cholesterol in blood vessels.
Potential Uses of Chayote for Overall Health:
The existing studies show that chayote vegetables might have the following potential uses for overall health:
Potential uses of chayote for the heart health
Many people nowadays suffer from heart diseases owing to a fat-enriched diet that makes them prone to increased fat deposition in the arteries. This makes it harder for the heart to pump blood into the arteries. Flavonoids in the chayote may promote heart health by preventing the deposition of cholesterol in the arteries. A study by Ibarra-Alvardo et al. in 2010 found that extracts of this Mexican plant aids in the treatment of heart diseases by modifying the smooth muscles of the arteries. Additionally, chayote is rich in fibres, and studies have shown that dietary fibres may prevent heart diseases.1,3,4 However, if you have a heart condition, don’t replace your medications with chayote. It is best to consult a doctor and seek treatment accordingly.
Potential uses of chayote for diabetes
Diabetes is a medical condition in which blood has high levels of sugar. A review study by Tiwari in 2014 found that the natural antioxidants in the vegetables like chayote may maintain glucose balance in the body and reduce sugar spikes after meals.5 Additionally, the rich fibrous content of the chayote may further aid in managing blood sugar levels by slowing down the absorption of carbohydrates, resulting in reduced blood sugar levels after eating.
Potential uses of chayote in pregnancy
Women need nutrients such as folate, iron, calcium and essential vitamins to maintain a healthy pregnancy. Chayote is an excellent source of folate. A study by Greenberg et al in 2011 showed that folate is essential for the developing baby. Adequate amounts of folate may prevent premature delivery and promote fetal brain and spinal cord development.2,7 Chayote may help support a healthy pregnancy. However, you should consult a doctor instead of self-medicating.
Potential uses of chayote in cancer
Cancer is a medical condition where the body’s cells abnormally multiply, affecting its normal functioning. A study by Salazar-Aguilar in 2017 found that chayote may inhibit the multiplication of cancerous cells and promote cell death. Studies have also found that chayote fruits may aid in the treatment of acute myeloid leukaemia. The chayote leaf extracts may inhibit the multiplication of breast cancer cells.1,8 However, if you suspect cancer, instead of self-medicating, you should consult a doctor to understand chayote leaves’ health benefits and seek treatment accordingly.
Potential uses of chayote for anti-ageing
Antioxidants may protect the body against cellular damage and reduce inflammation. A study by Sergiev et. al in 2015 has shown that free radicals may damage the body cells, reduce the body’s functioning over time and accelerate ageing. Studies say antioxidants can protect the cells from free radical damage and slow down the ageing process. Chayote is rich in antioxidants and vitamin C. Vitamin C in chayote vegetable benefits the skin by promoting collagen production that may reduce the visible signs of ageing such as wrinkles, fine lines and pigmentations.2, 9-11 However, you should always consult a doctor instead of self-medicating to get chayote leaves benefits.
Potential uses of chayote in fatty liver
Liver function gets affected if an abnormal amount of fat gets deposited in the liver tissues. The condition is called fatty liver. A study by Yang et. al in 2015 has shown that chayote extracts can protect the liver against excess fat deposition in its tissues and thus prevent fatty liver disease.12 More research is required to understand how chayote squash benefits liver functioning. If you have a fatty liver, you should consult a doctor instead of self-medicating.
Other potential uses of chayote:
Other potential uses of chayote squash vegetable are as follows: 1
- Chayote may help in weight management. The high fibre content may curb hunger and make you feel satisfied for longer. It results in reduced caloric intake while promoting a healthy weight.
- Chayote fruit extracts may relieve stomach ulcers by reducing acidity.
- Chayote may reduce blood pressure.
- High amounts of fibre and flavonoids in the chayote may support digestion and aid in maintaining a healthy gut.
- Chayote may lower elevated cholesterol levels and reduce
sthe risk of developing heart disease.
Although with the advancement in knowledge and technology, new research methods are employed to study chayote benefits and side effects, they are still insufficient, and further studies are required.
How to Use Chayote?
Chayote can be used in the following ways:
- Fruits, roots and shoots are squashed, steamed, roasted and fried as vegetables and used in both savoury and sweet dishes.
- Chayote seeds and peels can be eaten raw by adding them to smoothies and salads.
- Tuberous roots can be used as substitutes for potato and wheat in different products, sweets, and pickles.
- Chayote leaves are used to produce cosmetics, skincare and medicinal products.
You must consult a qualified doctor before taking any herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor.
Side Effects of Chayote:
Consuming chayote in moderation is considered safe. There have been no specific recorded side effects of chayote. However, you should consult a doctor if you notice any unusual symptoms after taking them.
Precautions to Take with Chayote:
General precautions must be followed while consuming chayote. Here is a list of a few precautions.
- Peel the chayote carefully. The sap released from it can cause skin irritation in some people.
- If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, take extra caution along with the doctor’s advice regarding the amount of chayote you eat.
- Elderly patients and children must consult an ayurvedic practitioner before taking chayote.
- If you have any medical condition, consult a doctor before taking chayote.
Interactions with Other Drugs:
There is not enough evidence on the interaction of the chayote extracts with other drugs. Further studies are required. Therefore, you must consult your doctor if you are on any other medication before consuming chayote.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What part of the chayote plant is edible?
The fruit, including the seeds, rind, peel and flesh, is edible. You can also eat its tendrils, flowers, and roots. There are several health benefits of eating chayote, either raw or cooked.
Is chayote good for diabetes?
Yes, chayote benefits people with diabetes by lowering their blood sugar levels. Additionally, the chayote nutritional benefits aid in slowing the absorption of carbohydrates which further reduces food intake, weight and thereby, sugar intake. However, you should consult a doctor before using chayote for weight loss and diabetes.
What are chayote juice benefits?
There are many health benefits of chayote juice. The extract from chayote fruit benefits in promoting healthy digestion, regulating blood pressure, and slowing down the ageing process. Many people prefer having chayote juice for weight loss after working out. However, you should consult a doctor before using chayote for skin, high blood pressure, and digestive issues.
Is chayote good for the kidney?
Chayote may reduce the formation of kidney stones. However, you should consult a doctor before self-medicating chayote for kidney stones.
What are the health benefits of chayote?
Chayote is widely used in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.1 It promotes heart health, prevents cancer, lowers blood pressure, regulates blood sugar, prevents fat accumulation in the liver, fights inflammation, and slows the ageing process. However, you should consult a doctor before utilising chayote benefits for high blood pressure and overall health.
Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.
- Pu Y-T, Luo Q, Wen L-H, Li Y-R, Meng P-H, Wang X-J, et al. Origin, evolution, breeding, and omics of chayote, an important Cucurbitaceae vegetable crop [Internet]. Frontiers. Frontiers; 2021 [cited 2022Dec16]. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpls.2021.739091/full
- Fooddata Central Search Results [Internet]. FoodData Central. [cited 2022Dec16]. Available from: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/170402/nutrients
- Ibarra-Alvarado C;Rojas A;Mendoza S;Bah M;Gutiérrez DM;Hernández-Sandoval L;Martínez M; Vasoactive and antioxidant activities of plants used in Mexican traditional medicine for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases [Internet]. Pharmaceutical biology. U.S. National Library of Medicine; [cited 2022Dec16]. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20645769/
- MP; MR. Dietary fiber is beneficial for the prevention of cardiovascular disease: An umbrella review of meta-analyses [Internet]. Journal of chiropractic medicine. U.S. National Library of Medicine; [cited 2022Dec16]. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29276461/
- AK; T. Revisiting “vegetables” to combat modern epidemic of imbalanced glucose homeostasis [Internet]. Pharmacognosy magazine. U.S. National Library of Medicine; [cited 2022Dec16]. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24991093/
- NM; MRJWMK. Understanding the physics of functional fibers in the gastrointestinal tract: An evidence-based approach to resolving enduring misconceptions about insoluble and soluble fiber [Internet]. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. U.S. National Library of Medicine; [cited 2022Dec16]. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27863994/
- YH; GJABSJGYY. Folic acid supplementation and pregnancy: More than just neural tube defect prevention [Internet]. Reviews in obstetrics & gynecology. U.S. National Library of Medicine; [cited 2022Dec16]. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22102928/
- Salazar-Aguilar S;Ruiz-Posadas LDM;Cadena-Iñiguez J;Soto-Hernández M;Santiago-Osorio E;Aguiñiga-Sánchez I;Rivera-Martínez AR;Aguirre-Medina JF; Sechium edule (Jacq.) Swartz, a new cultivar with antiproliferative potential in a human cervical cancer Hela Cell Line [Internet]. Nutrients. U.S. National Library of Medicine; [cited 2022Dec16]. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28757593/
- GV; SPVDOAB. Theories of aging: An ever-evolving field [Internet]. Acta naturae. U.S. National Library of Medicine; [cited 2022Dec16]. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25926998/
- Michalak M. Plant-Derived Antioxidants: Significance in Skin Health and the Ageing Process. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2022 Jan 6;23(2):585. Available From: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8776015/
- MCM; PJMCACV. The roles of Vitamin C in Skin Health [Internet]. Nutrients. U.S. National Library of Medicine; [cited 2022Dec16]. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28805671/
- Yang MY;Chan KC;Lee YJ;Chang XZ;Wu CH;Wang CJ; Sechium edule shoot extracts and active components improve obesity and a fatty liver that involved reducing hepatic lipogenesis and adipogenesis in high-fat-diet-fed rats [Internet]. Journal of agricultural and food chemistry. U.S. National Library of Medicine; [cited 2022Dec16]. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25912298/