Health benefits of radishes
Are radishes good for you?
While you may not expect much more than peppery flavor and crunch from the humble radish, these vegetables offer an array of health benefits. Whether you bite into a fresh and crunchy raw radish or soften it up by cooking, adding more radishes to your diet is never a bad idea.
Radishes are as delicious raw as they are cooked. In fact, this humble root vegetable may be one of the most versatile ingredients you can experiment with in the kitchen.
In this guide, we’ll tell you about the different varieties of radishes, their many nutrients and the best ways to enjoy more of this healthy root vegetable.
What are radishes?
There are several varieties of edible radishes. All are root vegetables that grow throughout Asia, Europe and North America. The most common varieties of radishes at grocery stores in the US include red radishes and daikons.
You may be most familiar with radishes that have bright red skin, a pearly white interior and small bulb-shaped roots with bushy green leaves. However, you can also find white, purple and green radishes. The stunning watermelon radish is especially prized — despite its drab green exterior, this root veggie has a vibrant watermelon-colored interior that stands out on any plate.
Daikon radishes are much larger than other varieties. They can grow up to a foot long and have a slightly sweet flavor. These are native to India and are popular in many Asian cuisines. Daikons are often pickled and served as a side dish to add a pop of briny flavor to savory dishes. Try making your own preserved daikons with our favorite all-in-one canning set from Presto.
From a nutritional point of view, radishes are a low-calorie but highly nutrient-dense vegetable. One cup of raw radishes contains just 19 calories yet plenty of important vitamins and minerals.
Top nutrients in radishes
Radishes are a high-fiber food, especially considering their low-calorie content. One cup of sliced radishes contains 2 grams of dietary fiber, which is 7% of your daily recommended intake. Eating a diet high in fiber has been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. Fiber also aids digestion for regularity, a healthy gut microbiome and improved nutrient absorption. In fact, eating plenty of fiber can also help improve your immune response.
One cup of sliced radishes also contains 7% of your daily recommended intake of potassium. This nutrient is essential for muscle functioning and healthy blood pressure. Most Americans consume less than half of the potassium they need in a day, so you may not be getting enough potassium in your diet. Other high-potassium foods include seafood and leafy greens.
Vitamin C supports a strong immune system to help guard against sickness and speed recovery. One serving of sliced radishes contains 28% of your daily recommended intake of this important nutrient. If you’re concerned about your vitamin C intake, our favorite supplement from Garden of Life is an easy way to meet your daily goals.
Vitamin B6 is actually an umbrella term for six unique compounds that contribute to a wide variety of functions in the body. B6 vitamins are especially important for your body’s ability to metabolize proteins from the carbohydrates you consume, which is how your body builds muscle. B6 is also the compound responsible for carrying oxygen throughout your body in the form of hemoglobin.
Radishes, like many vegetables, have a high-water content. Especially when eaten raw, radishes can help keep your body well-hydrated.
The calcium in radishes (2% of your daily recommended value per cup), helps strengthen your bones and muscular system. It also helps nerves transmit signals from your brain to other parts of your body. The most calcium-rich foods include dairy products like milk and yogurt as well as fish like sardines and salmon. Therefore, vegetables like radishes can be an excellent source of dietary calcium for plant-based and lactose-intolerant eaters.
Eating radishes will also provide some of the magnesium you need every day. This mineral plays a role in hundreds of processes the body needs to function. These include building proteins for muscle growth, nerve functioning and blood pressure regulation. Magnesium also plays a role in stabilizing blood sugar levels, and studies show that people who eat diets higher in magnesium have a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Can you eat radish greens?
Yes, while most recipes for radishes just include the root end, you can certainly eat the radish greens as well. They’re tasty and healthy, and eating the greens reduces food waste.
Radish greens have a stronger, earthier and more bitter flavor than other leafy greens. However, cooking them can help mellow out their sharp taste. You can quickly sauté them in a bit of oil or even brew the leaves into a tea that may help sooth stomach troubles.
The best part about eating radish greens? They contain a host of impressive nutrients on their own. In fact, radish greens offer as much as six times the vitamin C per serving as radish roots. The greens also contain antioxidants, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium and calcium.
The best ways to eat more radishes
There are dozens of ways to cook and prepare radishes at home. Here are some ideas to make adding radishes to your diet easy.
- Slice them up raw and dip them in a creamy homemade spread. Radishes are delicious with hummus whipped up in your food processor for a healthy snack.
- Roast them to crispy perfection. Simply arrange whole or halved radishes on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit until crisp on the edges and tender in the center.
- Cook them in a steamer for a fresh and sweet side dish. Steaming brings out their natural sweetness, and you can cook them alongside any of your favorite crisp vegetables.
- Braise them in butter for a decadent dish with benefits. You can also add the leafy radishes greens to a braise for added texture, color and nutrition.
- Sauté them with other vegetables for a colorful, nutrient-packed side dish.
- Pickle them into a tasty side dish or condiment. Pickled radishes are not only bright in color, but they also make a refreshing counterbalance to spicy dishes.
Lizzy Briskin is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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