Radishes are an often-overlooked vegetable in side dishes and salads. Even certain books I own on the healthiest foods in the world leave out the radish. Besides its trademark crunch and peppery taste, there is a lot to like about radishes. Radish nutrition is indeed loaded with nutrients and health benefits.
Radishes are amazing for the immune system, and they contain about a third of the vitamin C required for each day. There are also compounds in radishes that may help prevent and treat cancer. It is also a good root vegetable for detoxification, weight management, heart health, skin health, and much more. This article details radish, its many benefits, and also how to use this wonderful veggie, along with some delicious radish recipes.
Facts and History of Radishes
The radish is part of the Brassica family, and it has the plant name Raphanus raphanistrum. The word Raphanus comes from the ancient Greek expression raphanos, which translates as “easily reared.” They are related to other Brassica cruciferous vegetables that include broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and horseradish.
The radish is a popular garden crop that is resistant to a light frost. There are several varieties that vary in size, flavor, color, and length of time it takes for maturity. The most common type of radish is red, round, white on the inside, and is about the shape of a golf ball or ping pong ball.
The daikon radish is a long tuber popular in the winter, while the red radishes thrive in the spring. The original radish was black, while other varieties today are white, yellow, purple, pink, dark gray, and two-tone green.
The radish originates in China with the wild varieties found there. Middle Asia would later develop many radish forms after the Chinese introduction of the vegetable during prehistoric times. They were also common in Ancient Egypt, and they were cultivated even before they built the pyramids. The Romans grew large radishes and served them with vinegar and honey.
In the 1500s, radish cultivation would reach Puerto Rico, Mexico, Germany, and England. In Britain, they were used for both culinary and medicinal purposes that included kidney stones, intestinal worms, and skin problems. As a result, radishes may have been among first European crops brought over to the New World. Today, California and Florida are the top growers of this vegetable in the U.S.
Radishes are full of nutrition. So, what are the radish nutrition facts?
Radishes contain 4 grams of carbohydrates, 1.9 grams of fiber, and 0.8 grams of protein. From a micronutrient perspective, one cup of radishes contains 29% of the recommended daily amount of required vitamin C.
Radishes also contain a good amount of potassium, folate, manganese, and vitamin B6. They also contain trace amounts of vitamins A, K, B1, B2, B3, and B5, as well as choline, betaine, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, and selenium.
The following is a comprehensive radish nutrition chart with information for one cup of diced raw radishes or 116 grams of the vegetable.
|Total Fat||0.1 g||0.01%|
|Vitamin B1||0.01 mg||1.00%|
|Vitamin B2||0.01 mg||3.00%|
|Vitamin B3||0.3 mg||1.00%|
|Vitamin B5||0.2 mg||2.00%|
|Vitamin B6||0.1 mg||4.00%|
|Vitamin A||8.1 IU||N/A|
|Vitamin C||17.2 mg||29.00%|
|Vitamin K||1.5 mcg||2.00%|
* N/A—Not Applicable
5 Health Benefits of Radishes
What are the health benefits of radishes? Radishes have been used as folk medicine for centuries, and are used in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda to treat a variety of health concerns, including sore throats, fever, inflammation, and bile disorders.
The antibacterial properties in radishes can also prevent infection and help heal dry and cracked skin. The vitamin C in radishes can help treat and prevent arthritis. The water content in radishes also provides hydration for the skin.
The following are other radish health benefits you should keep in mind.
1. Treats jaundice and aids in detoxification
Jaundice has a link with a yellow skin discoloration, which can result from higher than normal bilirubin levels in the blood. Jaundice can also result from alcohol abuse, liver diseases, and certain cancers.
Radishes help detoxify and cleanse the blood from waste and toxins. The radish can remove bilirubin and stabilize its production. Radish leaves and black radishes are best at detoxification.
2. Prevents and treats cancer
In general, consumption of cruciferous vegetables like water-rich radishes can help prevent cancer. Cruciferous vegetables contain certain compounds that convert into isothiocyanates when combined with water. Isothiocyanates are known to prevent tumor development and rid the body of cancer-causing substances.
A study published in the journal Plant Foods for Human Nutrition in 2010, found that radish root extract has various isothiocyanates that would cause cell death in certain cancer cell lines.
3. Promotes heart health
Radishes reduce heart disease due to the flavonoid called anthocyanin. Studies have found that anthocyanins contain anti-inflammatory properties that can reduce cardiovascular diseases and its effects, like heart failure and peripheral artery disease.
Anthocyanins can circulate metabolites, which provide protection against various heart issues. The anthocyanins target the vascular system while reducing inflammation and oxidative stress in the process.
4. Benefits digestion
The radish benefits digestion with its fiber content. As a result, radishes can regulate bowel movements, eliminate constipation, and help you feel full longer.
In a study published in 2008, Korean researchers found that the fiber in radish leaves can help improve digestion, possibly due to their ability to increase bile production. Another 2008 study published in the journal Farmacia found that radish juice may prevent gastric ulcers, as it strengthens the mucosal barrier and protects the gastric tissue. The mucosal barrier helps protect your intestines and stomach from harmful bacteria and toxins that can cause inflammation and ulcers.
5. Fights Candida
The overgrowth of Candida can cause oral thrush, vaginal yeast infections, and systematic candidiasis. Common symptoms of systematic candidiasis include abdominal pain, persistent fatigue, constipation, and rectal itching.
Radishes contain an antifungal protein called RsAFP2. A 2012 study published in the journal Molecular Microbiology found that RsAFP2 causes cell death in Candida albicans. Another study published in the journal Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy in 2008 showed that RsAFP2 was not only effective against Candida albicans, but also other Candida species as well.
How to Use Radishes
When purchasing or harvesting red radishes, look for ones that aren’t too large since they may be hollow. Before you refrigerate radishes, wash and remove the greens. This method helps keep the radishes and greens fresh for about a week.
Radishes make a perfect addition to salads and sandwiches. However, for those that don’t enjoy the peppery taste of raw radishes, pickling them may be the better way to go. You can also cook with radish roots and greens, which pair nicely with spinach.
Do you want to know how to best utilize radish health benefits besides a salad? The following are a couple of unique radish recipes I’m sure you will enjoy.
Sesame Radish Salad Dressing Recipe
This salad dressing recipe makes for two cups, and it will keep for about a week in the refrigerator.
- ½ cup of organic lemon juice
- 1 cup of finely chopped radishes
- ½ cup of roughly chopped red onion
- ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of ground rosemary
- ½ cup of raw sesame seeds
- ¼ cup of filtered water
- 1 tablespoon of coconut aminos
- 1-2 garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoon of coarse gray sea salt
In a blender, combine all ingredients and blend on high speed until the dressing is smooth.
Browned and Glazed Radishes Recipe
This delicious radish recipe serves about four people as a side dish.
- 2 cup of radishes
- 4 tablespoons of ghee (clarified butter) or grass-fed unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon of coarse gray sea salt
- ½ teaspoon of freshly ground pepper
- 1 tablespoon of wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon of garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon of raw honey
- ¼ cup of minced fresh chives
- ¼ cup of wild leeks, finely chopped
Wash the radishes and remove the tops. Cut into quarters.
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the ghee, and add the radishes. Sautee for 10 to 15 minutes, until the radishes are soft and the ghee has begun to brown and become fragrant. Sprinkle with pepper, salt, and garlic powder.
Once the radishes have become tender, add the vinegar to deglaze, and then add the honey. Stir to combine and simmer until the flavors unite, for about two minutes. Add the chives and wild leeks to the skillet, and stir gently to combine.
Remove the skillet from the heat and serve immediately.
Precautions of Radishes
Radishes are very nutritious and can add a unique crunch to an otherwise plain-looking salad. Not to mention, I’m sure you will enjoy the non-salad radish recipes provided above. Radishes are also great for arthritis relief, weight management, detoxification, cancer treatment and prevention, as well as skin and heart health.
With that said, it is important to take note of possible precautions when it comes to the radish. When you develop a rash after eating a radish, stop eating it immediately. Consumption of large amounts of radishes may also cause digestive problems.
Eating high amounts of goitrogen-containing foods like radishes can also decrease thyroid function. Radishes may also be bothersome for people with gallstones. Also, be sure to consult a doctor before giving radishes to an infant.
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Jang, H.S. et al., “Effect of Radish Leaves Powder on the Gastrointestinal Function and Fecal Triglyceride, and Sterol Excretion in Fats Fed a Hypercholesterolemic Diet,” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2008; http://agris.fao.org/agris-search/search.do?recordID=KR2009001541.
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