The word radish comes from the Latin word radix, meaning root. A popular root veggie, radishes come in many varieties and colors and boast a peppery bite. A cool-weather annual, they’re also easy to grow in home gardens because they suffer from few pests or diseases and germinate quickly. Radishes need sun, so place them strategically in your garden during spring planting.
Radish Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits
1. Spanish black radishes enhance detoxification and may help prevent cancer.
Radishes are part of the cruciferous vegetable family, which also includes kale, broccoli and cabbage. According to the National Cancer Institute, cruciferous vegetables contain up to 100 different glucosinolates, which are sulphur-containing compounds that may help prevent cancer. The spanish black radish in particular contains more glucosinolates than other cruciferous vegetables. The glucosinolates known as isothiocyanates are also the source of the pungent (some call it bitter) flavor in radishes.
2. Radishes can help soothe the pain of arthritis.
Radishes are rich in anthocyanins, antioxidants that may help reduce inflammation in the joints, helping ease the stiffness and pain of arthritis.
3. Radishes are high in vitamin C, a free-radical fighting antioxidant.
A 1/2 cup of radish bulbs has just 16 calories and contains about 25% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C for older adults. This important vitamin functions as an antioxidant, helping the body protect cells from free radicals, harmful substances that damage DNA and contribute to the aging process.
4. Radishes are a source of potassium.
There’s 230 milligrams of potassium in a 1/2 cup serving of radishes. Food sources of potassium are important for managing high blood pressure and hypertension because potassium balances the action of salt. (A word of caution: If you have kidney problems, consult with your healthcare provider to see if you should limit your potassium intake.)
5. Radish greens are nutritious too.
Don’t toss those radish greens; they are just as edible as the root. Like all leafy greens, radish greens are a source of calcium, vitamin A and vitamin C.
How to Add a Colourful Array of Radishes to Your Diet
Most people think of radishes as blush red, peppery orbs found sliced in salads or on crudité platters, but traditional European radishes are just one variety of the root veggie. Grown in both round and elongated forms, radishes come in all colors of the sunset, from purple to red to pink to black. Beautiful watermelon radishes are true to their name: green rind and pink in the middle, but with no black seeds. They add stunning color to salads, rice bowls, slaw and noodle dishes. Daikon radishes are long white radishes popular throughout India and Asia. Daikon or mooli radishes are larger than their bulb cousins and can be sweeter too if harvested in time; left in the ground too long, they can become bitter.
French breakfast radishes are mild tasting and oblong with a white tip and red body, while white icicle radishes are crisp and carrot shaped. The spanish black radish is larger and more pungent than other varieties and its texture tends to be a bit tough. Each variety can be eaten raw, cooked or pickled. Though the radish bulb is the most commonly consumed part of the vegetable, you should also make use of the radish greens. The greens can be sautéed with lemon juice and a pinch of salt, enjoyed as salad greens or added to smoothies for nutrition. Be sure to eat radish greens a day or two after harvesting or purchasing — they don’t stay fresh long.