Radishes are root vegetables with crunchy flesh and variable skin color. Radish varies in shape from round and short to narrow and long, and the skin can be purple, pink, yellow, white, black, or red. Ancient Romans and Greeks used radish for medicinal and food purposes.
Radish (Raphanus sativus) is a spicy and peppery root vegetable that’s less starchy than other root vegetables like parsnips and potatoes. It belongs to the cruciferous veggie family, related to broccoli, cabbage, and turnips. Radish was among the first European vegetables introduced to the United States. It can be cooked like a potato to enjoy the milder flavor or eaten raw in a salad. Radish is low in calories but is a great source of vitamin C.
Radishes have many health benefits thanks to their antioxidant, vitamin C, and fiber content. For instance, vitamin C is essential in different physiological processes, including immune system regulation; wound healing, and protein metabolism.[i]
Might Lower Blood Sugar
Studies have shown that radishes might be beneficial for individuals with diabetes mainly because it slows down sugar absorption and minimizes starch induced post-meal GL (glycemic load).[ii]
Low in FODMAPs
The diet low in specific carbohydrates called fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides, and polys (FODMAPs) might help alleviate symptoms in individuals with bowel abnormalities like Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome. Radishes are ideal for people following the low-FODMAP diet.
In the same way as the cruciferous veggies, radishes contain a substance called glucosinolate. This compound has anticancer and antioxidant properties and could reduce cholesterol levels in the liver, eventually preventing the formation of gallstones.[iii]
Help Reduce Risks Of Cancer
Radishes might seem like they don’t have much in common with the broccoli, but both of them are cruciferous vegetables. Studies have shown a relationship between diets high in these highly nutritious vegetables and reduced risks of cancer.[iv]
Reduced Risks Of Chronic Diseases
In the same way as antioxidants, dietary fiber contains numerous health benefits, which researchers have so far identified. These include the prevention and management of digestive diseases, diabetes, high cholesterol, and heart disease. Also, researchers have been looking at fibers’ ability to prevent infections and improve memory and mood.[v]
Radishes contain antioxidant substances, which provides some of their anti-diabetic power. Also, anthocyanin gives radish a bright range of unique colors. Studies show that eating more radishes is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. Also, antioxidants are beneficial since they help repair the oxidative stress that’s caused by free radicals. This stress could contribute to diabetes, obesity, inflammation, and other conditions.[vi]
Radishes don’t have starch, a digestible form of carbohydrate that breaks down to simple sugars. The carbs present in radishes are half fiber and half simple sugars (fructose and glucose). A foods glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how fast and how much a food raises blood sugar. Like many non-starchy veggies, there isn’t any scientific study of the GI of radishes.[viii]
Radishes have a minimal amount of fat.
Like many veggies, radishes aren’t high in protein, even though it contains less than 1 gram in one cup of raw radishes.
Vitamins and Minerals
Radishes are a great source of vitamin C, with only 17 mg per cup serving. This is about 23% of the recommended daily intake for women and 19% for men. Since the body cannot create its vitamin C, eating it on a diet or through supplements is important. Also, radishes contain small amounts of vitamin B6 and folate and the minerals calcium, manganese, and potassium.[ix]
Some individuals might find the flavor of radish too spicy. However, cooking them instead of eating them raw can make them more edible. If you aren’t used to eating lots of fiber, you should gradually increase your fiber intake to prevent digestive symptoms.
Allergies to radish are very rare, but medical studies have reported a few. Signs of allergic reactions include swelling around the moth, difficulties breathing, itching, and hive. Incase you suspect any allergy to radishes, consult a health provider about management and diagnosis.[x]
Radish comes in a variety of types, sizes, and colors. Korean radish and daikon radish are popular in Asia. The red and white European rashes are often used in American cuisines. All types of radishes have the same nutritional value, but preparation is vital. For instance, pickled radishes contain higher amounts of sodium than the free versions. The red radish is related to horseradish.
Daikon white radish
The daikon radish grows to over one foot in length. Daikon radishes are indigenous to East Asia, where they are a staple, but they are also popular in Middle Eastern cuisines and south Asia. They are sweet but slightly thorny to eat raw.
French breakfast radish
The fresh breakfast radish is crisp and mild and perfect for eating as a snack. As the name suggests, fresh breakfast radishes can be washed and tossed onto your plate. They add color and can also be served as the palette cleanser between food and coffee.
Malaga radish has a very attractive deep purple skin, resembling that of beetroot. The good ones are vivid white inside and crisp. They are mild, earthy, and sweet.
White hailstone radish
The white hailstone radish looks like golf balls with lush and long green leaves that betray the relatively diminutive size. These radishes are incredibly versatile, mild, and crunchy. If you are looking to grow radishes, consider white hailstone radish. They are great as fermented, cooked, or eaten as a raw snack.
Radishes green leaves are edible. However, because of the coarse texture, they shouldn’t be used in salads unless they are very small and young. They can also be cooked.
Radishes have petite blooms comprising four petals that form the shape of the Greek cross attached to a think green stem and 4 yellow stamens.
Radishes were first discovered in China about 1000 years ago and slowly spread to the west. They gradually became an important food in ancient Rome, Greece, and Egypt. In Egypt, radishes were grown in large numbers during the time of the pharaoh. Records show Egyptians ate radish even before the pyramids were constructed.
However, they didn’t spread to the west until much later. History books show that radishes were found in Germany back in the 13th century but reached England until 1548. Radishes were later introduced to North America, but it was not until 1629 when they started being cultivated in Massachusetts.
There are five common types of radish grown in the US. Red Globe radish is the most well-known type. Also, the radish is small and has white and red coloring. It’s commonly eaten sliced or whole on salads. The other types of radishes cultivated in the United States are black varieties, white icicle, California mammoth white, and the daikon.
Giant radishes were discovered in Germany back in the 13th century. The German botanist reported seeing a radish weight of 100 pounds back in 1544. However, small radishes weren’t recorded in Britain and Europe until the 16th century, but in 1586, small radishes could be found in Great Britain and Europe.
How To Prepare
Many people are used to having raw slices of radishes on a salad or having raw French radishes with butter toppings. Also, you can try frying, steaming, or roasting them. However, some of the peppery flavor is lost if they are cooked, and you can season your radish with a variety of spices or herbs.
Radish slices on a green salad is the most common way of using them, but you could also make radishes the delicacy of your salad. Dice cucumber and radish and toss them with a topping that includes pepper, salt, olive oil, and lemon juice. Allow the salad to marinate in your fridge for about 3 hours before serving. Also, you can try out cooked radishes:
- In soups and stews
Storage Tips And Safety
Separate radishes and greens for storage. You can store your radishes in a fridge for a few weeks and the greens for few days. To store in a freezer, slice and blanch first. Thawed radishes look best in cooked dishes than salads.
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- [i] Wallace TC. Anthocyanins in cardiovascular disease. Adv Nutr. 2011;2(1):1-7. doi:10.3945/an.110.000042
- [ii] Banihani SA. Radish (Raphanus sativus) and diabetes. Nutrients. 2017;9(9):1014. doi:10.3390/nu9091014
- [iii] Castro-Torres IG, De la O-Arciniega M, Gallegos-Estudillo J, Naranjo-Rodríguez EB, Domínguez-Ortíz MÁ. Raphanus sativus L. var niger as a source of phytochemicals for the prevention of cholesterol gallstones. Phytother Res. 2014;28(2):167-71. doi:10.1002/ptr.4964
- [iv] Beevi SS, Mangamoori LN, Subathra M, Edula JR. Hexane extract of Raphanus sativus L. roots inhibits cell pro Plant Foods Hum Nutr liferation and induces apoptosis in human cancer cells by modulating genes related to apoptotic pathway. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2010;65(3):200-9. doi:10.1007/s11130-010-0178-0
- [v] Kaczmarczyk MM, Miller MJ, Freund GG. The health benefits of dietary fiber: Beyond the usual suspects of type 2 diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular disease and colon cancer. Metab Clin Exp. 2012;61(8):1058-66. doi:10.1016/j.metabol.2012.01.017
- [vi] Wallace TC. Anthocyanins in cardiovascular disease. Adv Nutr. 2011;2(1):1-7. doi:10.3945/an.110.000042
- [vii] Radishes, raw. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2019.
- [viii] Banihani SA. Radish (Raphanus sativus) and diabetes. Nutrients. 2017;9(9):1014. doi:10.3390/nu9091014
- [ix] Wallace TC. Anthocyanins in cardiovascular disease. Adv Nutr. 2011;2(1):1-7. doi:10.3945/an.110.000042
- [x] Lee YH, Lee JH, Kang HR, Ha JH, Lee BH, Kim SH. A case of anaphylaxis induced by contact with young radish (Raphanus sativus L). Allergy Asthma Immunol Res. 2015;7(1):95-7. doi:10.4168/aair.2015.7.1.95