Radishes are a spicy, peppery vegetable that are part of the cruciferous family, and are surprisingly low in calories, rich in flavor and off the charts in health benefits. Each radish provides just one calorie, and that calorie comes accompanied by vitamin C, folate and other nutrients.
6 Fun Facts About the Radish
Who knew radishes could be so fun? Check out these facts you probably don’t know:
- Radishes close cousins include cauliflower, turnips, broccoli and cabbage, all of which share the Brassicaceae family.
- Radishes have been cultivated around the world for thousands of years.
- Radishes make up a whopping 2% of global vegetable production!
- Horseradish is a crazy looking, elongated white radish variety that brings the spiciness factor truly to the next level.
- Daikon radish is a longer radish variety that is used in Japanese cooking. You might see it grated, dried, in stir fries, or pickled.
- In Britain, radishes were used medicinally to cure kidney stones, intestinal worms and bad skin.
Brief History of Radishes
This sweet or spicy (depending on the variety) root vegetable has been eaten raw for its root and greens in cultures around the world. Wild varieties of radishes are native to China and other parts of Central Asia, although exact proof of when we started to domestically grow radishes is unknown.
Nowadays, radish varieties can pretty much be summed up into four categories, depending on the season they are harvested. All are rich in potassium, folate, vitamin C, vitamin B6, magnesium copper and calcium, and can be enjoyed either raw (the most common way to eat radishes) or as a soup. Read on for more ways to incorporate radishes into your diet today.
Just one cup of sliced radish offers the following:
Fat: 0.1 gram
Protein: 0.8 grams
Carbohydrates: 4 grams
Vitamin C: 17.2 mg, or 29% of the DV (daily value)
Folate: 29 mcg, or 7% of the DV
Calcium: 29 mg
Magnesium: 11.6 mg
Phosphorus: 23.2 mg
Potassium: 270 mg
Other nutrients of note: iron, phosphorus, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium and fluoride.
Radish Health Benefits
Who knew so many health benefits could be packed into such a low-calorie vegetable? Check out the following radish benefits:
Excellent Source of Vitamin C
Radish is high in vitamin C, and research shows this crucial vitamin to not only be a potent antioxidant, but also play a key role in biosynthesis of collagen, catecholamines and carnitite. Adequate to high intake of vitamin C is also linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and stroke.
High in Fiber
Fiber (indigestible carbohydrates) works to regulate healthy bowel function and keep your system flushed out, so to speak. Radishes are high in fiber, which has also been shown to reduce your risk for conditions such as heart disease, constipation, diabetes and diverticulitis.
Shown to Regulate Blood Pressure
The powerful combination of vitamins, minerals and plant compounds found in radishes make it a perfect vegetable to support heart health, and some claim it helps to regulate blood pressure.
Radishes Remove Bilirubin in Jaundice Patients
Jaundice is the condition that causes the skin, eyes and mucus membranes to take on a yellowish color, which is caused by a build-up of bilirubin in the bile at a faster rate than the liver can break it down. Radishes have been shown to assist in the removal of bilirubin, especially in infants (who are commonly effected by the condition).
Support Detoxification Pathways
Initial research shows that certain compounds called glucosinolates in radishes support phase 2 detoxification enzymes in the liver. Spanish black radishes are the radish variety that have been shown to most powerfully provide this health benefit, and they could help to prevent against toxicity.
Radishes are Extremely Low in Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates are by no means evil, but following a reasonably low-carbohydrate type of diet could have a lot of benefits. Radishes offer only four grams of carbohydrates per one cup serving, while also providing a myriad of important nutrients. Whether you are specifically eating a low-carb diet or wish to get in plenty of nutrient-dense, non-starchy vegetables, radishes are a safe bet.
How to Use Radishes
Most people only have experience using radishes as an addition to salads, which is a great option (and easy). However, there are actually many ways to incorporate radishes into your diet that can vary their taste and texture, and you might enjoy even more than in their raw state.
Eat Radish Greens
It isn’t only the red, root part of the radish that is edible, but the greens, as well. Instead of throwing them away or composting them, try adding them to salads, replacing them for basil or parsley in your favorite pesto recipe, or add them as a garnish on top of a meat dish. These greens are tasty and packed full of nutrients that you won’t want to miss out on.
Make Watermelon Radish Soup
Watermelon radishes are a type of heirloom daikon radish variety that are big with a green exterior and bright red interior (just like a watermelon). You can use them in salads, stir-fries or soups.
Include Them in a Salad
The easiest and most common way to incorporate radishes into your diet is by slicing them thinly and tossing them into a salad! Their spicy taste and crunchy texture makes an excellent and unique addition to any green salad, and of course adds a nice nutrient boost.
Sounds strange, but so delicious! See our recipe below.
Planting radishes is very doable since their seeds can be planted both in the fall and spring seasons. They are a cool-weather crop that do not do well in warm climates. Radishes grow very quickly and are often ready to be harvested just three weeks after you plant them! Talk about instant gratification.
If you’re buying radishes instead of growing them yourself, look for ping-pong ball size radishes, as ones that are larger than average could be hollow inside
How to Store Radishes
To best store radishes, cut off the greens just above their root, and store the greens and red radishes (unwashed) in a ziplock bag until you’re ready to use them. Adding a slightly damp paper towel below them in the bag will keep them even crisper, and they should last for a week or more.
Roasted Radishes with Herbs Recipe
While radishes are especially delicious raw and eaten as with a salad, the thought of roasting them might be a new one for you. Radishes roasted with herbs of your choice are absolutely mouth-watering, and give their typically spicy taste a bit more warmth. Especially if you’re not a huge fan of raw radishes, give this recipe a try.
- 4 cups of radishes, washed and cut in half (save the greens and set aside)
- 2-3 teaspoons of salt
- pepper to taste
- Herbs of your choice (fresh or dried), ones that work especially well are rosemary, thyme and sage
- 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
- First, cut the stems off of the radishes, wash them thoroughly and cut them in half or quarters (your preference). Make them similar in size so that they roast evenly.
- Now, mix together your salt, pepper and other herbs. If the herbs are not already dried and ground, use a mortar and pestle to grind them all together, or simply mix well.
- Next, use half of your olive oil to toss with your herb mixture, and combine this with your radishes. Arrange the mixture on a baking sheet (non-stick works well), and bake for about 30 minutes, or until radishes are slightly brown and crispy.
- While the radishes are cooking, heat the rest of your oil in a saute pan and add your washed and chopped radish greens and stems, cooking for a short time until they are just slightly wilted.
- Once the radishes are crisped, remove them from the oven and combine with the cooked greens.
- Serve alongside a meat or fish dish, and enjoy!
If radishes haven’t been a regular part of your diet, start including them. They offer some unparalleled health benefits, and are packed full of vitamins, minerals, plant compounds and fiber. They come in various varieties and can be planted relatively easily, and you can enjoy them raw or cooked.