The radish is a crunchy root vegetable that has a peppery zing to it. The vibrant red colored radishes are typically found in the United States; however this vegetable does come in many colors shapes and sizes. There are 5 main types of radishes called red globe radish, black radish, daikons, white icicles and the California Mammoth White. The red version adds pizazz to garnishes and salads alike in my home. Radishes are members of the Brassica botanic group of vegetables like their cruciferous cousins broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.
The radish was initially cultivated many years ago in China, Egypt and Greece. Around 1548 the radish made its way to England. Sometime during the 1600’s they started being cultivated in Massachusetts. Currently, radishes are cultivated in most states; however the largest crops come from Florida and California. The therapeutic use of the radish dates back to pre-roman times where it was used largely to treat digestive and liver related issues.
1. Promotes optimal health
The radish root is high in vitamin C, zinc, phosphorous and calcium. Various versions of the radish contain a little bit more or a little bit less of the following nutrients: potassium, folate/folic acid, some copper, riboflavin, Vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium, manganese and other trace minerals. The vitamin C, phosphorus, zinc and B6 found in the radish can be successful at taming skin problems by keeping the skin moist. The antipruritic characteristics make the radish useful when treating insect bites such as bee, wasp and hornet stings because it controls itching by reducing the pain and swelling and then soothes the affected area.
Consuming the radish can stimulate digestive enzymes and bile flow. In addition, it has the ability to fight bacteria and infection and has been used to help stomach and intestinal problems, bile duct problems, loss of appetite, pain and swelling (of the mouth and throat). It’s also used for infections, too much mucus in the respiratory tract, bronchitis, fever, colds and coughs. Their pungent flavor and natural spice helps get rid of excess mucus in the body and helps fight colds thus protecting the respiratory system. Several other curative effects are being attributed to this root including the improvement of digestion, balancing of thyroid functions and even some laxative and diuretic benefits. Radishes act as a cleansing agent for the digestive system. This vegetable helps break down and purge the body of food and toxins that have built up over time.
2. Radishes possess anti-cancer properties
Being a member the cruciferous vegetable family, radishes contain phytonutrients, fiber, vitamins and minerals that protect against cancer. Since the radish contains lots of vitamin C and is a good detoxifier, it can help protect against many types of cancer, especially the cancers related to the intestines, stomach, colon and kidney. Furthermore, the radish contains compounds called glucosinates which are being studied for their anti cancer properties. The glucosinates form a substance called sulforaphenes which activate a specific type of liver enzyme that helps detoxify environmental cancer causing chemicals. With all the air pollutants and other toxic substances that we are exposed to on a daily basis, the liver needs all the support it can get! Why not slice up some radishes and garnish your salad with them?
3. High antioxidant activity
The radish contains strong anti-oxidant effects. Wikipedia describes an antioxidant as a molecule that inhibits a chemical reaction of other molecules called oxidation. Oxidation enables the transfer of electrons or hydrogen from one substance to an oxidizing agent and this produces free radicals which can damage or bring death to a cell. This oxidative stress leading to dying human cells is associated with and linked to many human diseases. Consuming fresh radishes on a regular basis will help keep your antioxidant levels at a healthy amount. In laboratory studies, radishes have been shown to counteract free radical damage which may lead to early aging and the increased risk of chronic disease. It’s astonishing to think that Mother Nature has put medicine in our food!
4. Good Source of Vitamin C
Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant in the body protecting your skin cells from free radical damage due to exposure to air pollution, ultraviolet light from the sun, first and second hand cigarette smoke and more. Vitamin C is the principal water-soluble antioxidant in the body which deactivates free radicals and prevents damage in the environments both inside and outside the cells. Free radical damage to cellular structures and other molecules can result in excruciating inflammation. Vitamin C, strives to prevent the free radical damage that triggers the onset of inflammation and swelling, therefore it may be associated with relief from inflammatory conditions such as asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Regular consumption of vitamin C delays the development of hardening of the arteries and also boosts the production of two of the skin’s most important proteins, collagen and elastin.
5. Contains Folate
Folate is a vitamin that is commonly known as vitamin B-12. It plays a critical role in many of the body’s functions such as cell maintenance and repair, DNA synthesis, amino acid metabolism and more. It can prevent obesity and various cancers as well as heart disease. Folate is imperative for erythrocyte (red blood cell) production which is vital for the appropriate development of an unborn child’s brain and spinal cord. Ample folate levels are required for proper brain functions at any age. Studies show that folate benefits the brain by slowing down the effects of aging.
6. Contains Zinc
Zinc is one of those essential minerals that can be found in all of our tissues and enzymes. This makes it a key participant in all of the biochemical activities of the body such as growth, protein production, skin renewal, wound healing, bone and teeth formation, immunity, hormone production, nervous system function, DNA synthesis and more. Zinc is only needed in trace amounts by the body, however when not getting enough zinc, it can be detrimental to the health. Eating radishes is an easy way to get more zinc into your body!
7. Contains Phosphorous
Phosphorus is an abundant mineral in the body and found mostly in the bones. Its main function is to build strong bones and teeth, however this mineral is drawn on by almost every cell in the body protecting and strengthening the cell membranes. Phosphorous has a wide range of benefits including allowing the proper digestion of riboflavin and niacin (B vitamins), assisting in the transmission of nerve impulses, facilitating the effective excretion of wastes from the kidneys, forming proteins that aid in reproduction and providing constant energy. If you happen to feel drowsy during the day, add some phosphorous rich foods such as radishes into your diet. It is understood by health experts that proper amounts of phosphorous intake can help boost energy levels making you more alert.
8. Contains Potassium
Potassium is a mineral that is crucial for the heart, kidneys and other organs to work properly. A low level of potassium intake is linked with a risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, cancer, digestive orders and infertility. The good news is that potassium can be derived naturally from foods such radishes, bananas, avocados, nuts, leafy green veggies, milk and potatoes.
9. Contains Magnesium
This is an essential nutrient that keeps the body healthy. It is accountable for about 300 biochemical reactions in the body if not more and it helps the body absorb phosphorous. The benefits of magnesium are endless and include proper transmission of nerve impulses, regulation of body temperature, detoxification and energy production. Magnesium is also necessary for the healthy formation of bones and teeth. Magnesium intake relieves symptoms of PMS and aids in the assimilation of calcium by the body. Some other health benefits consist of protein synthesis, boosting the bio availability of B6, and improving muscle functions. Magnesium also works to prevent a myriad of health ailments that we experience today as a society such as osteoporosis, insomnia, constipation, heart attacks, hypertension, migraines, kidney stones and gallstones. Getting some magnesium into your system will only benefit you by helping to lower the risks of these ailments. Go for it! Eat some radishes today!
10. Contains Calcium
Calcium is the most familiar mineral in the body but it can also be lost every day via urine and feces. The body replenishes the lost calcium easily from the diet, so eat lots of radishes on your salad for a good source of this nutrient. Calcium is needed to build and maintain strong bones; is essential for blood clotting, muscle contraction, and nerve impulse transmission. The nerves and muscles of the heart also require ample calcium sources to carry out their tasks properly.
It’s imperative to note that while eating radishes may increase your overall levels of the above nutrients, it’s not likely to cure a disease when consumed on its own. Incorporating radishes into your diet regularly will promote the outlined curative effects of the nutrients found in them by strengthening and boosting the body’s own natural defense mechanisms.
Try these delicious recipes from Mimi’s Organic Corner
Because I love organic food and pursue an eco-friendly lifestyle, I suggest using certified organic ingredients in all of your food recipes when available to maximize flavors and nutrition while minimizing your risk of exposure to pesticides, chemicals and preservatives.
A bold red radish is amazingly crunchy to eat out of hand. They add lots of flavor when garnishing salads, or any dish for that matter. The nice part of the radish is that both the bulb and the leaves can be used in dishes for various flavors and nutrients. Saute the leaves mixed with other veggies and garlic for a healthy green side, or add to your detox smoothie for an added kick!
Mango Radish Salsa
You will need 2-3 cups of diced mango, chopped cilantro, lime juice, salt and diced radishes. Toss the ingredients into a bowl and add the radishes at the end.
Chicken Satay salad with Grapefruit and Radish
Try using ruby red grapefruits, romaine lettuce, chopped radishes and some boneless chicken breasts. Season the chicken with dry mustard, garlic powder, ground cinnamon, coriander, ginger, pepper and some salt. For the satay, you will need some peanut butter, soy sauce and sugar. Toss the chicken in the spices and grill. Combine the satay ingredients. Prepare the salad adding the grapefruit and radish, then top with the chicken and drizzle the satay over the ingredients. Toss to combine all flavors.
Snow Pea Stir-Fri with Cashew and roasted Radish
Combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic sauce in a small bowl. Heat sesame oil in the pan and then add some fresh minced ginger, some snow peas, radishes, scallions and cashews. Cooking the radish takes away some of the spiciness. Cool veggies then top with the sauce and serve.
Sesame Tuna Salad
Combine lemon juice with vegetable oil, soy sauce sesame oil sugar and fresh ginger in a bowl. Add tuna, peas and scallions. Slice some Napa cabbage thinly and top this with the mixture, then garnish with radish and sesame seeds. So yummy!
Baby Potato and Pea salad with sliced Radishes
Steam potatoes and heat olive oil in a pan with some scallions, peas and cover with a bit of water to simmer. Then add radishes, butter, salt, pepper and fresh herbs like parsley and cilantro. Once combined, add the steamed potatoes and mix to bring the flavors together. Serve this dish warm.