While not the most popular vegetable, radishes are certainly one of the best, the benefits of radishes are vast and can do wonders for your health. Radishes have been shown to aid in cancer prevention, improve digestion, and benefit cardiovascular health. Not to mention, the high water content and low carbohydrate properties of radishes make them incredibly hydrating, and great for overall nutrition, and an easier way to meet recommended dietary guidelines, especially for those managing diabetes.
Radishes come in many shapes, sizes, and colors and belong to the cruciferous family of vegetables, like broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. The most popular is the bright red radish variety in the United States, but others include black, purple, or like the white Daikon radish of Asian-origin. While radishes typically have a peppery taste, some may be sweet, but smaller radishes have the best texture and flavor.
Health Benefits of Eating Radishes
Despite not being very well-studied for conventional medicinal use, radishes have been used as a folk remedy in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat inflammatory and bile disorders. The USDA publishes the nutrient content of thousands of foods, including nutrition information for both a standard radish as commonly eaten in the US and an “oriental” radish for the Doika radish commonly found in Asia.
1. Cancer Prevention
Cruciferous vegetables like radishes may help prevent cancer from the many nutrients, and compounds radishes contain. A study published in Plant Foods for Human Nutrition suggests radish root extract contained several types of a compound called isothiocyanate, which damages cancer cells. When combined with water, these isothiocyanates break down cancer cells and prevent further growth. The anti-inflammatory properties of radishes also inhibit tumor growth and prevention, making radishes a hugely beneficial addition to your diet.
According to a comprehensive review by Nutrients, scientists believe the many types of antioxidants found throughout the root, sprouts, seeds, and leaves of the miracle plant may help protect the body against a variety of cancers from cervical, breast, prostate, colon, liver, and lung cancer, providing benefits throughout the entire body.
2. Stimulates Digestion
If you have been looking for a way to stimulate your metabolism, try a radish. These veggies provide numerous benefits for your gut health and improving your overall digestive system. Radishes help with moderating acidity, reducing nausea, and even controlling bacteria. A study from 2011 found that radish leaf extract possesses antiulcer properties by demonstrating antibacterial activity against including Heliobacter pylori - which is linked to causing ulcers and stomach cancer.
The abundance of fiber includes one of the many health benefits of radishes, regulating bile production, and protecting the liver and gallbladder, as well as managing water retention. Fiber also helps prevent constipation by bulking up stool and removing waste through your intestines. Fiber has been suggested to help manage blood sugar levels, aid in weight loss, and reduce cholesterol.
3. Heart Protection
It may be no surprise that radishes are also a source of heart protection. Radishes are a source of anthocyanins that keep our hearts functioning properly, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Niyla Carson, Nutritionist for Fast Food Menu Prices, says, “radishes are best known for their aid in improving blood circulation and lowering blood pressure. This is brought by the nutrient and antioxidant content of radishes, specifically potassium, calcium, and other natural nitrates.”
Radishes also contain vitamin C, which also plays an important role in collagen production. Collagen helps improve the strength and flexibility of our blood vessels, decreasing the chances of atherosclerosis. Of course, the benefits of collagen that are found in radish can be extended to both the hair and nails health and many other internal functions.
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4. Improve Jaundice
Another surprising benefit? A radish is a powerful detoxifying agent. In particular, black radish and its leaves are used to treat jaundice because they rid the body of excess bilirubin, purifying the blood. Jaundice is a condition of high bilirubin levels, causing the skin, whites of eyes, and mucous membranes to turn yellow because of the yellow-orange pigment of bile. Radishes also control damage to red blood cells by increasing the fresh oxygen supply of the blood.
5. Antifungal and Antibacterial
Radishes have both antifungal and antibacterial properties. While they already detoxify the blood and improve oxygenation of our red blood cells, radishes contain proteins to control and prevent the growth of Candida albicans, a fungus normally found in humans. When overgrown, candida can cause oral or vaginal yeast infections, but the enzymes found in radishes kill these fungi.
The high water content of radish makes them a great diuretic for releasing toxins and managing kidney function and urinary disorders. The many nutrients contained within a radish support detoxifying from pathogens in our many vital organs.
6. Immune Support
According to the US Department of Agriculture, one cup of radish has fewer than 20 calories, and just one cup of sliced radishes provides 30 percent of the daily value for immune-supporting vitamin C. Vitamin C is a micronutrient essential for humans, as it contributes to immune defense through supporting cellular functionality. This micronutrient works as a barrier against pathogens and environmental oxidative stress. Radishes also contain small amounts of B vitamins, potassium, calcium, iron, and magnesium to aid in standard bodily functions.
Dr. Leslie Deems, Chinese Herbalist and Founder of Awaken Balance, suggests consuming 10 radishes per day for a therapeutic dose but has found that many find this challenging because of the spice. The Standard Process Spanish Black Radish* supplement is a great alternative and another easy way to support your lymphatic system and overall health.
Cooking With Radishes
We spoke with Nutritionist Niyla Carson for her take on radish preparation and cooking. Niyla Carson has graduated in Food Science and Human Nutrition and currently works as the nutritionist for Fast Food Menu Prices. She is passionate about nutrition, and her life’s mission is to teach people that living healthy isn’t as hard as they think.
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Radish Allergies and Alternatives
While a radish allergy is very uncommon and generally safe to consume, remember to consume in moderation. Eating too much can irritate your digestive system. If you are looking for a radish alternative, Carson suggests trying turnips. Concerning texture, there is not much of a difference. Nutritionalnal benefits are almost the same since they’re both root crops.
How to Pick and Choose a Radish
When choosing a good radish, you need to consider certain factors such as its bulbs— as much as possible; they should be firm. Avoid the ones with cracks as well, and when it comes to color, you shouldn’t overthink it. Radishes with leaves are typically fresher, and there are many benefits to utilizing radish leaves as part of improving your health and overall nutrition.
How to Plant a Radish
If you are planning on planting your own radish crop, Growing radishes is fairly easy and doesn’t require much rocket science. The soil to be used should be loose and well-drained, and rocks should be kept out of the way as much as possible. Radishes also like the sun, but they need to be under the shade from time to time, so pick a place where they can receive an ample amount of sun but can stay out of it at the same time. Once plucked, the best way to store a radish at home is to keep it in a cool, dark place.
How to Cook Radish
Carson suggests air-frying, baking, or roasting radishes savor their many benefits, as the nutritional value of veggies is typically lost in the process of preparation. Her next tip: “If you haven’t tried roasted radishes yet, now is the time to do so for those who aren’t really fond of radishes or veggies in general, slice and put in a pan with a garnish of your choices such as garlic, parsley, or other herbs. Sometimes a little experimenting goes a long way! You might be creating your new favorite dish.”
For a few more recipes, check out these sites!
- 5-Ingredient Baked Roast Radish
- Potluck Chopped Salad
- Chile Chicken Nachos
- Grilled Broccoli and Radish Salad with Garlicky Miso Dressing
- Kimchi and Radish Salad
For the benefits of Kimchi, check out this article.
Despite not being the most popular vegetable, there are plenty of recipes to optimize the vegetable’s flavor or to conceal it within your meal. Next time you are at the grocery store or are looking to plant new veggies, consider the many health benefits of radishes you can incorporate into your and your family’s diet.
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Ashley Brooks works in Healthcare Consulting and graduates with her MPH in September of 2022 from George Washington University, but graduated with her B.S. in Health Science from James Madison University in 2019. Ashley has been with Mira since June of 2021 and shares the passion for creating affordable healthcare coverage for all!