Skip to content

Topinambur (Jerusalem artichoke, Pataca): Properties, Uses and Contraindications

February 3, 2023
Topinambur (Jerusalem artichoke, Pataca) Properties, Uses and Contraindications

If you like tubers, you will love to try and learn more about the topinambur. I invite you to continue reading to learn about the characteristics, nutritional properties, health benefits, consumption options, as well as the most frequently asked questions about the so-called Jerusalem artichoke.

Jerusalem artichoke

What is topinambur or pataca?

The Jerusalem artichoke, Jerusalem artichoke, or Pataca, is an edible tuber native to North America, where for centuries, it has been a valuable food source for Native Americans. Its skin is fine and knobby, similar to the skin of ginger. Inside it is ivory in color and has a crisp and juicy texture. The flavor of topinambur is a bit sweet and nutty, similar to a mix between water chestnuts and potatoes.

Characteristics and data of interest

  • The topinambur can be consumed both raw and cooked.
  • It is rich in inulin (a prebiotic fiber that is favorable for beneficial bacteria in the intestine and regulating blood sugar1).
  • It contains few carbohydrates, which is why some call it “the potato of diabetics.”
  • The topinambur can be used as a substitute for potatoes in any recipe. In fact, in Europe, it was the companion in stews and meat dishes since times before the popularity of the potato.
  • It is also known as Jerusalem artichoke, although it is not actually related to artichokes; on the contrary, it is related to sunflowers.

Nutritional properties of topinambur

Nutritional properties of topinambur

In addition to being an unrivaled source of prebiotic fiber (inulin), these tubers are also rich in vitamins (thiamine, niacin, vitamin C, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folic acid), minerals (iron, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium), and antioxidants.

Nutritional information (1 cup, 150 g):

  • Calories: 109
  • Grease: 0 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodio: 6 mg
  • Potassium: 644 mg (18%)
  • Carbohydrates: 26 g (8%)
  • Dietary fiber: 2.4 g (9%)
  • Azúcar: 14 g
  • Protein: 3 g (6%)
  • Vitamin A: 30 IU
  • Vitamin C: 10%
  • Calcium: 2%
  • Iron: 28%
  • Vitamin B6: 5%
  • Magnesium: 6%
  • Thiamine (vitamin B1): 20%

Benefits and uses of topinambur

Benefits and uses of topinambur (Jerusalem artichoke)

Below we describe some of the most important benefits studied so far:

  • It has a prebiotic effect. The pataca contains large amounts of inulin, a type of indigestible prebiotic fiber that stimulates the growth and activity of beneficial bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, acting as a substrate for them; in this way, it also stimulates the immune system and fights the growth of pathogenic bacteria. In addition, prebiotics facilitates the absorption of some minerals, such as calcium and magnesium.
  • Helps control blood glucose levels. Excess glucose in the blood can significantly increase the risk of constant fatigue, heart disease, mood disturbances, insulin resistance, and diabetes.2  Jerusalem artichokes contain a glycemic index of 11, so it is considered a low glycemic index food. This means that it helps control blood glucose levels and is a beneficial food for people with diabetes.
  • Promotes digestive health. The topinambur is rich in B vitamins, including thiamine (vitamin B1). Thiamine helps the stomach produce hydrochloric acid, the deficiency of which can impair the digestion of proteins and cause stomach pain by inhibiting the activation of digestive enzymes.3 It is also an excellent source of dietary fiber, which helps normalize bowel movements and prevent various cancer types.
  • Helps control cholesterol. The soluble fiber present in the topinambur reduces total cholesterol levels in the blood by reducing the levels of low-density lipoproteins or “bad cholesterol.” Several studies suggest that this may have additional benefits for heart health, such as lowering blood pressure and inflammation.4
  • Helps control blood pressure. The topinambur is rich in potassium and low in sodium (1 cup of the tuber contains 643 milligrams of potassium and only 6 milligrams of sodium), which helps better regulate blood pressure.
  • It favors the formation of hemoglobin. Copper and iron are essential minerals for the formation and development of blood cells. A cup of Jerusalem artichoke contains 28 and 20% of the recommended daily value of iron and copper, respectively, which makes this vegetable a good food to prevent or correct anemia.
  • Strengthens the immune system. The topinambur contains considerable amounts of antioxidant vitamins, such as vitamins C, A, and E, which, together with other flavonoid compounds, such as carotenes, stimulate the immune system, fight free radicals, and protect against cancer, inflammation, and infections.

How to consume Jerusalem artichoke?

Some of the most common options for preparing topinambur in the kitchen are:

  • Raw: Unlike potatoes, Jerusalem artichoke can be eaten raw, either grated or thinly sliced ​​to add to your favorite salad.
  • Baked: these tubers can also be baked. You have to clean them very well, season them with olive oil, a little salt, or your favorite seasonings, and place them in the oven at 350 ° F for 30-40 minutes.
  • Sauteed: it combines very well with other vegetables.
  • Steamedsteam the Jerusalem artichoke pieces for 10 to 15 minutes, season with butter and a pinch of parsley, or a dash of lemon and nutmeg.
  • Frito (Chips): cut thin slices of Jerusalem artichoke and dip in hot oil to fry until lightly browned; then drain on kitchen paper and season to taste.

Contraindications and side effects

  • Digestive problems. Topinambo is rich in inulin, the same type of fiber that provides the tuber most of its health benefits. However, some people may be intolerant to this fiber, causing flatulence, abdominal pain, and digestive discomfort.5
  • Allergic reactions. Additionally, the plant contains an allergenic component, a sesquiterpene lactone, common in plants of the Asteraceae / compound family, including lettuce, sunflower, and dandelion artichoke, among others. People allergic to other plants in the Asteraceae family may also be allergic to topinambur.
  • Irritation of the skin. Contact with the fresh plant can cause dermatitis.

Inulin Special Precautions and Warnings:

  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding: Although inulin is considered possibly safe in pregnant and lactating women when consumed in food. There is not enough information about its use as a medicine or supplement during pregnancy and lactation. To stay on the safe side, avoid using it during this stage.6
  • Children: Inulin is considered Possibly Safe in children when taken orally as a medicine, short term.

Finally, the amount of topinambur consumed per day should be limited. Eating more than 10 grams of inulin (about a quarter cup of Jerusalem artichoke) can be harmful in the long run.

Note : The topinambur plant is considered an invasive species and a threat to native species, habitats or ecosystems. The species has been included in the Spanish Catalog of Invasive Exotic Species7 . In Spainits introduction into the natural environment, its possession, transport, traffic and tradeis prohibited.8

Frequent questions

What is the origin of the topinambur?

The topinambur is a native crop of North America, where several indigenous tribes cultivated it for food before the arrival of European settlers. In the 17th century, after the colony, the tuber was brought to France.

Once introduced to Europe, it gained French kitchens and spread throughout the “old world.” Before potatoes became popular, topinambur was the perfect tuber to accompany stews and meats in Europe and the United States.

What other names does this plant have?

Among the common names that this interesting tuber receives are aguaturma, alpetaca, cane bataca, ground chestnut, macuca, marenquera, large margarita, cane potato, Sierra potato, royal potato, the pataca, cane potato, potato from the stick, ground potato, grave potato, ground pear, water turma, Jerusalem artichoke, sunflower, sun root, gigantically, batateiro sunflower, Canadian sunflower, topi, topinambur, topinamburo, Jerusalem artichoke, ground turma, and Jewish potato.

What does it taste like?

The flavor of the topinambur is slightly sweet and nutty; Some people describe it as a mix between water chestnuts and potato. Others say it tastes similar to artichoke but less intense.

What is the Jerusalem artichoke plant like?

The topinambur plant can grow up to 3 m in height. It has opposite and alternate leaves of rough and hairy texture; the lower leaves are larger and can be up to 30 cm long. However, the taller leaves tend to be smaller and narrower.

The flowers of the plant are yellow, very similar to the flowers of the sunflower.

The tubers are elongated and uneven, measuring approximately 9 cm long and 4 cm thick; they vaguely resemble ginger root. Their color can range from light brown to white, red, or purple.

How is the pataca grown?

The propagation of the topinambur occurs from the tubers. In fact, any small pieces that remain in the ground after harvest will probably sprout and produce a new plant. With this in mind, it is important to choose where it will be grown well, as it can be difficult to eradicate it later.

The recommended sowing time is spring, in full sun. To plant Jerusalem artichokes, cut the tuber into 2 or 3 sections, each with an “eye”; then plant them at a depth of 10 cm, leaving a 70 cm separation.

Harvest can be started 4-6 weeks after flowering. Once collected, store them in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator drawer.

How to use the topinambur for diabetes?

The topinambur is known as “the potato of diabetics”; The only source of carbohydrates in this tuber is composed of inulin, a soluble vegetable fiber that is indigestible by the human body that acts as a prebiotic and improves intestinal health.

Patients with diabetes, or other related conditions, can benefit from pataca by using it as a substitute for potatoes, rice, bread, or other refined carbohydrates. Raw, fried, boiled, or baked, topinambur can make a delicious and healthy side dish for diabetic patients. 5 ]

How to use the topinambur to lower cholesterol?

The soluble fiber found in topinambur can help reduce total cholesterol levels in the blood by lowering levels of low-density lipoprotein, or “bad cholesterol.”

In addition to consuming the topinambur as a substitute for other types of carbohydrates, people who wish to lower their cholesterol levels can roast the roots, grind them and use the resulting powder to prepare a drink similar to coffee; This preparation has the ability to lower the levels of triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood.

How to use the topinambur for cancer?

The topinambur is rich in fiber, minerals, and antioxidant vitamins to prevent various types of cancer. To get the best benefits from this tuber, use it as a substitute for other common carbohydrates, for example, white rice, white bread, potatoes, etc.

How to use the topinambur to lose weight?

The topinambur is ideal for people looking to lose weight. It is a source of healthy carbohydrates, relatively low in calories, with a diuretic effect, and fiber. It can substitute potatoes, rice, bread, flour, or other refined and caloric carbohydrates.


+ posts

My name is Louise Hammond, and I am the creator of this website, a place to find information about tubers, bulbs and medicinal roots. In I show the properties, benefits, characteristics, photos and images, ways of growing and how to make delicious meals from starchy vegetables.