Chayote squash, part of gourd family Cucurbitaceae, is also known as mirliton squash or chocho. Originally from central Mexico and various parts of Latin America, it is now grown all over the world.
Chayote is loaded with various essential vitamins [C, B9 (folate), K, B6], minerals (manganese, copper, zinc, potassium, magnesium), fiber and antioxidant compounds that provide many potential health benefits.
A single chayote provides 47% of the RDI of folate which promotes proper cell division. Folate (vitamin B9) is essential for everyone and particularly important for women who are or planning to become pregnant. It is essential for proper development of the fetal brain and spinal cord and may also help in the prevention of premature births.
Chayote squash is also rich in vitamin C (26% of the RDI) which serves as an antioxidant in our bodies. Additionally, vitamin C is necessary to the production of collagen, one of the primary proteins found in our skin. Collagen is widely credited for giving our skin its firm and youthful appearance.
Many of Chayote’s health benefits come from its antioxidants compounds (such as quercetin, myricetin, morin, and kaempferol) which protect against cellular damage, reduce inflammation, and lower stress within your body.
Research suggests that myricetin has strong anti-cancer, anti-diabetes, and anti-inflammatory properties. Myricetin is also believed to improve certain heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and poor blood flow.
Also, chayote squash is a good source of fiber (14% of the RDI). Fiber-rich foods have been associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. Low in total carbs and high in soluble fiber, chayote may also contribute to stabilizing flood sugar and improving insulin sensitivity.
Chayote is versatile, easy to prepare and its mild flavor lends itself to sweet and savory dishes. Botanically classified as a fruit, chayote is prepared like a vegetable. Its skin, flesh and seed are all edible. It can be consumed raw in smoothies, slaws and salads. It can be steamed, roasted, or fried. It can bring an extra boost of nutrition to soups, stews, and casseroles. Why not start with a simple, delicious salad?
2 small chayote squash
1 medium carrot, blanched and thinly sliced
½ red onion, thinly sliced
2 large radishes, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp (45 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp (30 mL) lime juice
½ small clove garlic, finely grated
¼ tsp (1 mL) salt
¼ tsp (1 mL) pepper
2 Tbsp (30 mL) chopped fresh cilantro
In saucepan of boiling salted water, boil chayote squash until tender-crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain and chill under cold water; drain well. Slice thinly; pat dry with paper towels.
Slice and blanch carrot. Drain and chill under cold water.
In large bowl, whisk together oil, lime juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Add chayote, carrot, red onion, radishes and cilantro; toss and enjoy!
♦ This recipe can easily be customized to your liking. Simply add or substitute any ingredient you like such as celery, apple, avocado, sweet peppers, chili peppers, or even crisp bacon.
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