What Is Chayote Good For?

Choosing Chayote
Botanical name: Sechium edule

Chayote

Originating from Mexico and Central America, chayote is a good storehouse of important nutrients that your body needs.1 It’s known by many names, but no matter what you call it, you’ll certainly agree that this vegetable isn’t just delicious, but nutritious too.

What Is Chayote?

Chayote (Sechium edule) is a pear-shaped, light green vegetable belonging to the Cucurbitaceae or gourd family.2 It has a mild flavor and a slightly crunchy texture that resembles a combination of a cucumber and a potato.3

This vegetable has a thin layer of pale green skin, with multiple shallow, vertical furrows on the surface.4 Chayote also comes in different varieties, which may be easily differentiated by the surface texture and the color of the vegetables. It may also come in either a green or white shade, or have a spiky or smooth texture.5 Inside the chayote, you will find edible seeds, which are usually roasted or fried. 6

Chayote grows on a perennial vine, with tendrils that enable the plant to climb and use a surface for support.7 The vine can cling to fences, shrubs and even on trees.8 Chayote grows best during a long and warm season and requires rich and well-drained soil. Adding organic matter may also contribute better nutrient supply and drainage.9 After about 120 to 150 days of maturation, chayote plants may start producing flowers.10 These flowers eventually develop into vegetables, with a chayote plant having the ability to yield up to 300 chayotes per year.11

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 promoting healthy weight.12 Furthermore, chayote is a rich source of dietary fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, vitamin C and choline.13

Another strong suit of this vegetable is its folate content, which is helpful for cell division14 and DNA synthesis.15 Pregnant women can benefit from folate as well, as it helps inhibit neural tube defects among babies.16,17

Chayote also has small amounts of aglycone flavonoid polyphonic antioxidants in apigenin and luteolin.18 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.19

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 19 calories per 100-grams, perfect for those who are watching their weight but don’t want to compromise on taste. Take a peek at chayote’s many nutrients in the table below:20

Chayote Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 100 grams, raw
  Amt. Per
Serving
Calories 19 kcal
Total Fat 0.13 g
Saturated Fat 0.028 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 2 mg
Total Carbohydrates 4.51 g
Dietary Fiber 2 g
Sugar 2 g
Protein 1 g
Folate 93 mg Vitamin C 7.7 mg
Calcium 17 mg Potassium 125 mg

*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 Healthy Recipes

Chayote’s mildly sweet flavor works well in soups, just like this Chayote Soup recipe from Epicurious.21

Ingredients:

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

Procedure:

  1. Cook scallions, garlic and chili in butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderately low heat. Stir until softened, for about 3 minutes.
  2. Add chayotes, salt and 1 tablespoon cilantro. Cook and stir for 2 minutes.
  3. Add water and simmer. Cover the pan until the chayotes are tender for 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. 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

Cook’s note: 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 prepare chayote, it can be cooked lightly, sautéed, stir-fried or added to raw salads and salsas, where its crispness really shines through. It can also be used as a substitute for summer squash.22

Prior to preparation, 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 overly-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.23

Chayote is available year-round, especially in markets that contain sections for specialty produce. This means that you don’t have to wait for a certain season to benefit from the nutritional components of this vegetable.24

When choosing chayote, avoid buying large and overly-mature pieces, as they tend to have tough skin and a stringy pulp that are unappetizing. The same goes 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 it inside a paper bag and keep this inside the vegetable compartment of your refrigerator that’s set at adequate moisture. The chayote will last for two to three weeks. Just make sure to use it as soon as possible, especially if these are old and large, since they may sprout early. 25