Are you curious to know whether is chayote good for babies or not? Keep reading through this article to know more about chayote and its benefits.
What is Chayote?
Chayote, Sechium edule, is a tropical squash that belongs to the gourd family. The other members of the family include pumpkins, melons, and cucumbers. It originally hails from Mesoamerica between Mexico and Honduras. However, chayote is now cultivated in warmer climates around the world and holds a prominent place in multiple cuisines, earning it a myriad of local nicknames:
- chow-chow, mirliton, xuxu, choko, pimpinela, Siamese gourd, christophene, mango squash, and custard marrow, among others.
Even though people cook and consume chayote like a vegetable, it essentially is a fruit. The pale/bright green squash is pear-shaped with a rough surface full of wrinkles. The thin skin fuses to the underlying greenish-white flesh, which encloses a single large flattened pit (seed). Its mild taste is like a cross between apple and cucumber, with a crisp fresh texture that softens when you cook it. It combines well with a variety of other ingredients in soups, curries, pickles, stir-fries, roasts, and baked dishes. Raw chayote chunks add a delicious, slightly sweet crunch to salads and salsas.
Nutritional Composition and Health Benefits
1. Provides Energy
One medium-sized Chayote (approx. 200gms) provides 39 calories of energy. Rich in potassium and with little sodium and fat, chayote is a good choice for those dealing with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and poor blood flow.
2. Rich in Antioxidants
It offers an abundance of antioxidants like Vitamin C, quercetin, myricetin, morin, and kaempferol. Myricetin has strong anti-cancer, anti-diabetes, and anti-inflammatory properties.
3. High in Fiber
The squash is rich in fiber and beneficial plant compounds that regulate blood sugar levels, improve digestion, and fight heart disease. Coupled with high water content (93%), the dietary fiber satiates hunger and leaves you feeling fuller for long periods.
4. Vitamins and Minerals
A significant amount of Vitamin C and Vitamin B9 (Folate) fights cell damage and supports infant neurological development, respectively. The trace minerals in Chayote: zinc, copper, magnesium, and manganese contribute to the following:
- Hormone and enzyme synthesis & action
- Maintenance of the immune system, nerve and muscle function, and bone strength.
5. Urinary Tract Infection
Traditional medicine suggests chayote for treating urinary tract infections and dissolving kidney stones.
Is Chayote Good for Babies
Chayote is safe for babies as young as six months old if they are ready for solid food. Each infant has a unique developmental timeline. It is best to always talk to your pediatrician first before introducing new ingredients into your baby’s diet.
When selecting chayote at the store, look for an unblemished surface with fewer wrinkles and firm consistency. The harder, the better unless otherwise specified as some recipes may require a ripe softer squash.
How To Prepare Chayote
Wash the fruit thoroughly with water and peel it. Discard the leathery rind and cut the chayote lengthwise into halves. Next, you can scoop out the seed with a spoon. Alternatively, you can cut the fruit into quarter and use a paring knife to remove the seed. You can slice the fruit according to your preference.
6-9 Months Old
- Cook the chayote by steaming or boiling it over high heat. Mash the fruit and use a spoon to feed it to your 6-9 months old baby or allow them to eat with their hands.
- You can cut the steamed chayote into large chunks to let your kids eat it as a finger food.
9-18 Months Old
- You can feed mashed chayote to your baby if they haven’t started on solids yet.
- Or you can cut it into large chunks to give them the opportunity to eat by themselves.
- Encourage your infant to practice their developing pincer grasp by offering bite-sized pieces of well-cooked chayote.
- Raw chayote is challenging to chew and hence, you must serve it by grating it or slice thinly.
18-24 Months Old
- Encourage utensil use by offering bite-sized pieces of cooked chayote along with a fork. Alternatively, you can pre-load the fork to demonstrate the technique.
Raw Chayote can pose a choking hazard for infants. Make sure to serve small pieces by either grating, mashing, or cut to less than ½ inches in size. Always seat your child upright and supervise mealtimes.
Although chayote allergies are rare, it is not uncommon to develop an itchy rash after handling squashe. When you peel it, the chayote skin secretes a milky, sticky sap/resin that can temporarily irritate the skin or cause numbness/tingling sensation. Avoid this by wearing gloves and washing the raw squash thoroughly to remove the resin completely. Rinse your hands and baby’s face, mouth, and hands in case of accidental contact with sensitive skin. Always start with small quantities of new food and watch out for any adverse reaction.