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Sunchoke: Nutrition, Benefits, And Preparations

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Do you know of a vegetable that looks like ginger but tastes like potatoes? It is sunchoke, also known as “Jerusalem artichoke.” Sunchoke benefits you in multiple ways if included as a part of your regular diet. Sunchokes are big knobby root tubers that have recently gained popularity due to their ease of preparation, nutritional benefits, and nutty flavor profile. Low in calories, high in fiber, and a tasty low-carb substitute, here’s what you should know about the humble yet versatile sunchokes.

Stylecraze TriviaThe name Jerusalem artichoke is derived from the Italian word “girasole,” which corrupted to Jerusalem. Frieda Caplan, a specialty produce distributor and marketer, coined the name “sunchoke” in 1960.

In This Article

What Are Sunchokes?

Sunchokes, native to North America, are knotted root vegetables that belong to the sunflower plant family and are in season from late fall through early spring. The root or tuber part of the flowering plant has thin papery skin with a creamy white interior. They are similar to potatoes in their taste and culinary preparations. Despite their strange knotty appearance, sunchokes are equally delicious when you eat them raw or roasted. Want to know more? Keep reading.

What Do Sunchokes Taste Like?

Though sunchokes look similar to ginger and can replace starchy potatoes in almost every dish, they differ in their taste, texture, and flavor profile. These have a mildly sweet, intense nutty flavor akin to water chestnuts, jicama, or hazelnuts. They offer a crunchy bite when eaten raw and render a smooth creamy texture when boiled or roasted.

Stylecraze TriviaThe indigenous people of the Americas first cultivated sunchokes. French explorer and navigator Samuel de Champlain found them being grown at Cape Cod, Massachusetts, in 1605.

If you are wondering whether these sweet and nutty sunchokes provide you with any nutritional benefits, have a look at their nutrient facts detailed below.

What Is The Nutritional Value Of A Sunchoke?

Sunchokes add a range of macronutrients, vitamins, and trace minerals to your diet. According to the USDA, 1 cup (150g) of sliced sunchokes can benefit you with the following important nutrients (1).

Calories 110
Fat 0 g
Sodium 6 mg
Carbohydrates 26 g
Fiber 2.4 g
Sugars 14 g
Protein 3 g
Calcium, Ca 21 mg
Vitamin C 6 mg
Thiamin 0.3 mg
Carotene, beta 18 µg
Phosphorus, P 117 mg
Potassium, K 644 mg
Sodium, Na 6 mg
Zinc, Zn 0.18 mg
Copper, Cu 0.21mg

Nutritionally, sunchokes are a great source of iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and indigestible fiber. They are low in calories and make for a good substitute for potatoes and other starchy root vegetables. Sunchokes can be a good addition to appetizers or snack lists. They also provide you with a host of other benefits as seen below.

Health Benefits Of Sunchokes

Sunchokes are beneficial to our overall health in a few key ways. Some of them are:

  • May Act As A Prebiotic

Sunchokes are rich in inulin, which acts as a prebiotic and helps reduce inflammation and improves your metabolism and immunity. It is a polysaccharide, which, unlike sugar, doesn’t get absorbed by the intestine and proceeds to get fermented, stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria such as bifidobacterium (2), (3).

  • May Be Used As A Diet Alternative For People With Diabetes

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Sunchokes contain inulin, a carbohydrate that doesn’t get converted into simple sugars and hence helps keep the blood sugar levels in check (4). Sunchokes can be easily substituted for potatoes in most dishes. Other than adding their mildly sweet flavor, sunchokes can help make these dishes better by removing the starch component. This makes it a good food alternative for people with diabetes or with a risk of developing it. The Glycemic Index of sunchokes is low, which makes it a good food choice for those with diabetes. They don’t cause blood sugar levels to spike. They also may help prevent fatty liver.

Related: Easy Ways To Lower Blood Sugar Naturally And Safely

  • May Help Lower Cholesterol

Along with keeping your glucose levels in check, the inulin content in sunchokes might also help lower your cholesterol levels. Animal studies have shown that oral administration of sunchokes inulin helps improve the serum levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol, and LDL cholesterol in hyperglycemic rats (5), (6). Though more research is warranted to establish the same for humans, this is a promising prospect indeed.

  • May Be Used As A Wheat Substitute

Sunchoke flour can be used in place of wheat and other grains for people allergic to them. It may make for a suitable alternative to wheat flour in a gluten-free diet.

Sunchokes are available throughout the year and are at their peak during the fall and spring. These might also be available in various shades ranging from light brown to a slightly red or purplish color. Knowing how to select the right ones and adhering to proper storage practices makes it possible to use them for a longer time.

Related: 14 Health Benefits Of Artichoke, Nutrition, & Side Effects

How To Select And Store Sunchokes

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  • Selection

When it comes to choosing the best sunchokes, look for ones that are firm and clear-skinned without any soft spots or blemishes. Avoid the ones with wrinkled skin, green blotches, or sprouts. Large sunchoke tubers with minimal bumps or knobs are easier to work with and are more ideal for roasting. Larger ones also help you get uniform slices when you cut them.

  • Storage

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Sunchokes, like any other root vegetables, do well when stored in a well-ventilated, cool, and dry place away from direct sunlight. They can also be wrapped in paper towels or sealed in ziplock bags and stored inside the produce drawer of the fridge. Raw sunchokes can easily last for a minimum of 3-4 weeks. They should be handled with care as they have thin skin and tend to bruise easily. Be careful not to wash them until you are ready to use them as the thin skin might get infected by mold easily.

Once washed and sliced, they can be stored in a sealed container in the fridge for a few weeks. Cooked sunchokes can be kept in the fridge but should be consumed within 2 days. Canning or freezing sunchokes is not advisable as it might lead to a change in color, taste, or texture.

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More often than not, when you come across sunchokes in your supermarket aisle or the farmer’s market, you might tend to dismiss them just because you have no idea how to cook them. Let’s give you some know-how about the same and dig into these humble root vegetables right away.

Related: 15 Amazing Benefits Of Healthy Eating On Your Life

How To Cook Sunchokes

Sunchokes can be had raw, boiled, or cooked into a variety of preparations. They are one of those versatile vegetables that can be easily included in your diet. There are a few things to keep in mind for the proper handling of sunchokes.

  • Sunchokes, being root tubers, tend to be soiled, with dirt lodged in the eyes and crevices of the bumps and knots. Remember to scrub them off clean under running water before consuming them raw or cooked.
  • Sunchokes, just like apples and potatoes, tend to oxidize and change color when exposed to air. To prevent that, you can toss them with lemon juice before cooking.
  • Peeling them can be tedious and is not required as the skin is thin and edible. Moreover, it’s easier to boil or blanch them first and then peel off the skin rather than peeling them raw.

Going further, let’s have a look at some of the common ways to relish sunchokes.

Raw 

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Sunchokes, like carrots or turnips, can be eaten raw. They have a nice crunch and nutty flavor to them. Once you wash and scrub them clean, you can then grate or thinly slice them to make for a crispy salad topper. You can also have them with a dip or hummus. You can leave the skin on if you want.

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Roasted – Roasting sunchokes with their peel on renders a sweet, caramelized crunch that goes well as any succulent main dish.

  1. Clean the sunchoke tubers well.
  2. Drizzle a little oil, and season with salt, pepper, and thyme.
  3. Roast for about 35 minutes at 425°F.

Mashed – Well if you are a fan of mashed potatoes, chances are you would like the starch-free sweet option of sunchokes even better.

  1. Boil the sunchokes until they get soft, for about 15 minutes.
  2. Peel and mash the tubers.
  3. Add a little garlic, butter, or oil according to your preference.
  4. Relish this mildly sweet and savory sunchoke mash alongside your favorite lean meat protein or steamed vegetables.

Fried – Again, just like with potatoes, sunchokes can be fried.

  1. Cut the sunchokes into thin slices.
  2. Fry in a healthy oil of your preference until the sunchokes turn a golden brown.
  3. Add a dash of salt, and you have your very own sunchoke chips ready.

No matter whichever way you try them, sunchokes are an incredibly versatile vegetable that you can easily introduce into your mealtimes.

Sunchokes (Jerusalem artichoke) are root vegetables from the sunflower family. They look similar to ginger and have a mild sweet taste. The many benefits of sunchokes can be attributed to its rich nutritional profile, fiber, and prebiotic properties. The intake of sunchokes may regulate blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, improve metabolism, and lower cholesterol levels. It can also be used as a wheat substitute. Just make to choose the ones that are firm and clear-skinned and store them in the refrigerator. Include these easy-to-prepare root vegetables in your diet and enjoy their benefits!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do sunchokes give you gas?

The inulin (polysaccharides) in sunchokes may lead to gas when consumed raw.

Are sunchokes healthier than potatoes?

Yes. Sunchokes have a low glycemic index and are considered a healthier alternative to potatoes.

Can you freeze sunchokes?

Yes. You can freeze sunchokes.

Key Takeaways

  • Sunchokes are knotted root vegetables native to North America and belong to the sunflower plant family. Their taste and culinary preparations are similar to potatoes.
  • Sunchokes are a good source of iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and indigestible fiber. In addition, they’re low in calories and can be used to replace potatoes and other starchy root vegetables.
  • They act as prebiotic, lower cholesterol levels, and offer other important benefits.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Jerusalem-artichokes, raw
    https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/169236/nutrients
  2. Inulin and Oligofructose: What Are They?
    https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/129/7/1402S/4722577
  3. Possible actions of inulin as prebiotic polysaccharide: A review
    https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1002/fft2.92
  4. Effects of High Performance Inulin Supplementation on Glycemic Status and Lipid Profile in Women with Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3963683/
  5. Effect of Oral Administration of Jerusalem Artichoke Inulin on Reducing Blood Lipid and Glucose in STZ-Induced Diabetic Rats
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/280294462_Effect_of_Oral_Administration_of_Jerusalem_Artichoke_Inulin_on_Reducing_Blood_Lipid_and_Glucose_in_STZ-Induced_Diabetic_Rats
  6. Physiological Response to Diets Fortified with Jerusalem Artichoke Tubers (Helianthus tuberosus L.) Powder by Diabetic Rats
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/237112589_Physiological_Response_to_Diets_Fortified_with_Jerusalem_Artichoke_Tubers_Helianthus_tuberosus_L_Powder_by_Diabetic_Rats

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Varsha Patnaik

Varsha holds a master’s degree in biotechnology from Ravenshaw University, Cuttack, and is a certified diet and nutrition coach. She… more

Dr. Pallavi Srivastava

(PG Diploma in Sports Science & Fitness Nutrition)Pallavi Srivastava is a Clinical Nutritionist with over 13 years of experience and the founder of Q-Slim Fitness Studio. She… more

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