Whether you call it chayote mirliton, vegetable pear or sayote, you’ll certainly agree that this vegetable isn’t just delicious, but nutritious too.1 Originating from Mexico and Central America,2 chayote is a good storehouse of important nutrients that your body needs.
What Is Chayote?
Chayote (Sechium edule) is a pear-shaped, light green vegetable belonging to the Cucurbitaceae or gourd family. It has a crunchy texture and a mild and sweet flavor — probably a reason why chayote is said to be similar to butternut squash or pumpkin.3
This vegetable has a thin layer of pale green skin, with multiple shallow vertical furrows on the surface. Chayote may either have a spiky and fuzzy or smooth surface.4 Inside the chayote, you will find edible and flat seeds.5
Chayote grows on a perennial vine, with tendrils that enable the plant to climb and use a surface for support. The vines run along fences, over shrubs and even on trees. Chayote grows best during a long and warm season and requires well-drained and moist soil. After 30 days of pollination, the plant will begin to mature and harvest, with each plant yielding 150 vegetables per season.6
Chayote’s Many Health Benefits
Chayote may not be as popular as other vegetables, but it actually has a very good track record when it comes to its health benefits. For starters, chayote contains no cholesterol and unhealthy fats, and is usually recommended for controlling bad cholesterol levels and reducing weight.7
Furthermore, chayote is a rich source of dietary fiber, antioxidants, iron, manganese, phosphorus, zinc, potassium, copper and vitamins B1, B2, B6 and C.
Another strong suit of this vegetable is its folate content, which is helpful for cell division and DNA synthesis. Pregnant women can benefit from folate as well, as it helps inhibit neural tube defects among babies.
Chayote also has small amounts of aglycone flavonoid polyphonic antioxidants in apigenin and luteolin. These are crucial in helping combat free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the body that both play a role in aging and cancer development.
Chayote Nutrition Facts
If you’re looking for a low-calorie vegetable that’s equal parts healthy and tasty, then chayote might be the perfect choice. Chayote contains only 16 calories per 100 gram serving, perfect for those who are watching their weight but don’t want to compromise on taste.10 Take a peek at chayote’s many nutrients:11
Chayote Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 100 grams, raw
|Calories from Fat
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Chayote Healthy Recipe: Chayote Soup
Chayote’s mildly sweet flavor works well in soups, just like this Chayote Soup recipe from Epicurious.8
|2 scallions, minced
||½ teaspoon unsalted, raw grass-fed butter
||2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
||Fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish
|1 small garlic clove, minced
||1½ lb. chayotes (2 to 3 pieces), peeled and quartered lengthwise, pitted if necessary; then cut into ½-inch pieces (4 cups)
||½ teaspoon sea salt
||1¾ cups water
|¼ teaspoon minced small, fresh hot green chili pepper, to taste
- Cook scallions, garlic and chili in butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat. Stir until softened, for about 3 minutes.
- Add chayotes, salt and 1 tablespoon cilantro. Cook and stir for 2 minutes.
- Add water and simmer. Cover the pan until the chayotes are tender for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Stir in remaining tablespoons of cilantro and puree soup in two batches in a blender until smooth. Make sure to use caution when blending hot liquids. Season with salt.
This recipe makes four servings.
Active time: 30 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
The soup can be made one day ahead. Cool the soup uncovered, but chill the batch covered. Reheat before serving.
If you’re wondering how else you can cook chayote, this vegetable can be added to stir-fries, curries, bakes and even casseroles. Chayote can also be stuffed with different vegetables or seafood or mixed in coleslaws and raw salads because of its refreshing taste and crisp texture.9
Prior to using, wash chayote thoroughly under cold running water, and lightly scrub areas where there are prickles or dirt. Once done, trim the chayote’s stem-end and bases.
If you’re using young and tender chayote, there’s no need to peel the vegetable. But for large and over-mature chayotes, lightly peel them using a vegetable peeler. Make sure to wear protective gloves or peel under running water, since a sticky liquid in raw chayote oozes out that could cause skin irritation and occasional numbness in the fingers.
You can buy chayote from October through April, when they’re usually predominantly available, although some Latin American and Asian markets carry them all-year round. Make sure to pick chayote that’s medium-sized, fresh and firm and with an apple green color.
Avoid buying large and over-mature chayote, as they tend to have tough skin and a stringy pulp that are both unappetizing. Ditto for old stock, since they tend to sprout early. Check for surface cuts, pits, cracks or bruises on the skin, and if there are any, don’t buy them. However, minor scratches and mild bruises on the skin are ideally fine.
To store chayote, place first inside a paper bag and keep inside the vegetable compartment of your refrigerator that’s set at adequate moisture. The chayote will last inside the refrigerator for two to three weeks. Just make sure to use it as soon as possible, especially if these are old and large, since these may sprout early.