Chayote squash (also called Choko and Chocho) is a nutritious vegetable. It is a good source of Folate (Vitamin B9) and very low-calorie food. In Australia and New Zealand, it is added in salad and salsas. Indians people cook it as other Indian veggies and some add grated chayote in Paratha (stuffed chapati). According to nutritional information, it can help to lose weight and lower cholesterol. Its folate content makes it healthier food for pregnant women. It also has antioxidant action attributed to its phytochemicals including apigenin and luteolin. So, it is also beneficial in the prevention of cancer and delaying aging.
What is Chayote?
Chayote is a vegetable native to Mexico and Latin America. Today, it is cultivated through tropical and subtropical regions of the world. It is a pear-shaped green fruit of Sechium Edule plant, which belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family. The fruit has smooth and slight ridges along its length. It looks like a pear, so it is also called pear squash and vegetable pear. It has white flesh and a soft seed in the center. The white flesh has a bland flavor. Some of its varieties have a wide range of flavors like bitter, neutral and slightly sweet. Its seed tastes like nuts.
A Brief History: The Mayas and Aztecs people had used it as their primary food. Then it was introduced to Europe by Spanish and then Europeans people had introduced it to Asia. The word “Chayote” is derived from chayohtli, Nahuatl word.
|Common Name||Chayote, Chokos|
|English Name||Chayote, Chayote Squash, Pear Squash, Vegetable Pear, Mango Squash|
|Botanical Name||Sechium Edule|
Common & Vernacular Names
|Australia and New Zealand||Chokos, Choko|
|India||Chocho, Chow-Chow fruit, Bengaluru Vankaya or Seema Vankaya (in Telugu Language), Bangalore Kathirikai (in Tamil Language)|
About Chayote Plant
The fruit is 10 to 20 cm long that has deep ridges with coarse wrinkles and pear-like shape. The outer layer is green and thin. Inner part contains white flesh and a seed in the middle. Some varieties also have little spines. It is a climbing plant. Its vine can grow up to 12 meters. Its leaves are heart-shaped, 10 to 25 cm wide.
Chayote root is called Ichintal. Its tuberous roots are edible and can be used like potatoes. Chayote’s tender stems and leaves are used as salads.
Chayote squash benefits include its protective effects on the heart, blood vessels and skin. It is also good food for diabetic people. It also aids in weight loss. Let’s have a deep insight about health benefits of chayote fruit (choko vegetable):
Chayote for High Blood Pressure
Studies have reported that chayote possesses an excellent hypotensive activity. Its pulp and peel both help in lowering high blood pressure.
It is a great source of trace minerals potassium and phosphorus that help to counterbalance the negative effects of sodium on health.
Potassium helps to ease tension in the blood vessels and causes widening of the arteries. This ensures a smooth blood flow throughout the body and prevents a rise in the blood pressure.
Eating chayote regularly can help in lowering the mean arterial pressure, which helps the blood to flow easily and prevents the narrowing of the arteries.
Boosts Heart Health
Reactive oxygen species play a critical role in the onset of cardiovascular injury, which is linked to circulatory disturbance. The antioxidant property and presence of flavonoids in chayote protect the heart against damage.
These healthy compounds have the ability to scavenge free radicals and fight against oxidative stress. Such an action protects the cells of the heart against damage and death and boosts the flow of blood towards the heart.
Besides this, chayote is a good source of potassium that helps in the functioning of the heart. It further aids in the management of high blood pressure, which otherwise increases the risk of heart disease.
Hence, daily consumption of chayote may boost the heart health and protect it against diseases and injuries.
Terpenes and flavonoids are two phytochemicals present in chayote, that possess anti-cancer activity. These plant compounds inhibit the growth of cancer cells and prevent its multiplication as well as spread to other organs of the body.
The healthy compounds present in chayote interfere with the development of cancer. Furthermore, these compounds are also efficient in eliminating the free radicals and oxidant molecules, which are implicated in promoting tumors and creating a favorable environment for cancer growth and spread.
Hence, eating chayote on a daily basis may help in the management of cancer.
Management of Diabetes Mellitus
Free radicals attack the pancreas, destruct the pancreatic beta-cells and elevate the overall blood glucose levels.
Chayote is a great source of antioxidants that scavenges the free radicals, eliminates them and protects the pancreas against damage. This helps in the reduction of high blood glucose levels.
Furthermore, chayote is a good source of dietary fiber, that is known to lower high blood glucose levels. Dietary fiber slows down the breakdown of carbohydrates into simple sugar and thus, it prevents sudden spikes in the blood glucose levels post meal.
Hence, consumption of chayote leads to stable blood glucose levels.
Aids Weight Loss
In addition to caloric restriction and exercise, individuals who want to lose weight should add chayote to their daily diet.
Chayote has high moisture and dietary fiber content, which makes it low in calories and beneficial for weight-watchers.
On digestion, fiber in the stomach draws in water, which makes it viscous. It fills up your stomach and suppresses appetite.
Hence, eating chayote can keep you full for a longer period of time and delay hunger pangs too. This prevents intake of excess and unwanted calories and helps in weight loss.
Hence, overweight and obese individuals should club exercise with a diet rich in high fiber foods like chayote.
Scientific studies have found that chayote extract is effective in reducing the durations as well as the episodes of convulsions.
Chayote extracts further delay the onset of convulsions and produce significant anticonvulsant activity, reports another study.
Chayote possesses CNS depressant activity, which helps in the treatment and management of epilepsy. It helps the mind to relax and makes a person feel calm.
It further reduces the motor coordination and spontaneous motor activity. Such an anti-epileptic action of chayote is attributed to the presence of phytochemicals in it.
These phytochemicals reduce the intensity of seizures and come without any side-effects.
Medicinal Uses of Chayote
- Each part of chayote plant possesses medicinal properties. Chayote plant is excellent for individuals with kidney stones. It dissolves kidney stones and increases the urinary output.
- Inflammation plays a key role in the onset and worsening of various health conditions. Chayote plant helps in getting rid of inflammatory diseases by suppressing the production of pro-inflammatory compounds and increasing the activity of anti-inflammatory compounds.
- Chayote possesses anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal activities. It promotes the elimination of the bacteria and prevents the interaction between the bacteria and the healthy cells. Hence, eating chayote can fight infectious diseases.
- Research-based studies have reported that chayote boosts detoxification of the liver, treats ulcers, protects the kidneys against damage caused by toxins, drugs and chemicals and prevents the onset of anemia.
How to Use Chayote
Chayote squash can be stuffed, baked, mashed, fried, pickled and boiled. It can also be enjoyed raw in the form of salads and salsa.