Radishes: Health Benefits and Versatility

by  Dr Rupy Aujla12 May 2023

In a Nutshell

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History Snippets

Golden Roots: Radishes are native to China, where wild forms can still be found. They are mentioned in historical records of the Egyptian, Roman and Greek civilizations. The ancient Greeks prized them so much that they made small replicas in gold!

Radish Giants: In 1544, a German botanist reported seeing radishes that weighed 45 kg! By 1586, they were a common crop in England and were among the first European vegetables to be brought to America by Spanish colonists. 

Traditional Uses: In Unani, Greeko-Arab and Indian folk medicine, radish is used for the treatment of jaundice, gallstone, liver diseases, indigestion and other gastric pains.

Research Digest

Radish is one of your Cruciferous or Brassica vegetables.

Big studies suggest that eating cruciferous vegetables like radishes may be beneficial for cancer prevention, heart health and depression. (Li et al. 2021;Zurbau et al. 2020)

Zooming In: One study of 684 women aged 70+ found that those who ate over 44 grams of cruciferous vegetables daily had a 46% lower risk of developing vascular calcification – a marker of plaque buildup that can lead to heart disease.

The Fine Print: To date, human studies on radish specifically are sparse. Most studies looked at cruciferous vegetables as a group.So what’s so special about radishes?

Quick Food Science

Radishes contain a complex set of nutrients and phytochemicals (at least 609 identified), such as:

  • Minerals & vitamins, especially calcium, potassium and vitamins C and A
  • Glucosinolates, which are broken down into isothiocyanates and provide its characteristic flavour
  • Flavonoids, especially anthocyanins that give rise to the red colour
  • Carotenoids, especially β-carotene

Don’t forget the green tops and sprouts! They have the highest amount of several nutrients and phytochemicals. (Gamba et al. 2021)

What does it mean? In lab studies, these compounds were linked to several health benefits, like regulating detoxification enzymes and inducing the death of unwanted cells.

In daily life: Radish leaves, roots and sprouts contribute to a healthy diet. One portion is 10 radishes. Scroll down for some cooking inspiration!

Earth to Plate

Season: Radishes are cultivated in two primary seasons – spring/summer and winter cultivars. The small, quick-growing spring varieties tend to have a milder, crisp flesh. (Britannica)

Radish Rainbow: The outside skin of radishes can be white, yellow, pink, red, purple or black, depending on the variety. Their flesh is usually white, but their flavour, size, and length can vary greatly – from small European radishes to larger Japanese and Chinese daikon radishes.

Shop: Find your local farm shop.

Tasty Tips

Around the World
  • Lebanon: Fattoush salad, paired with tomato, lettuce, cucumber, spring onion, mint and fried leftover flatbread.
  • Punjab region: Mooli paratha – spiced radish flatbreads usually served as breakfast.
  • France: Radis au beurre served raw with fresh butter and a small cup of salt to dip into.
  • Japan: Takuan pickled yellow radish that is often served as a side dish.
  • Korea: Kkakdugi a type of kimchi made from diced radish.
My favourite non-recipe ways to enjoy radishes
  • Pickled: Slice and soak in vinegar and spices. Recipe coming soon ;)
  • On toast: Finely slice and top on sourdough bread with olive oil, feta and greens.
  • Crudité: Chop and serve with other veggies, wholegrain crackers and a roasted red pepper dip.
  • Salads: Finely slice and mix with greens, sliced cucumber, crumbled feta, nuts and a lemon vinaigrette.
  • Cooked: Roast alongside other veggies. Don’t forget the leaves! You can sauté them like spinach and add them to stews or enjoy them as a side dish.
  • In Pesto: Radish greens are perfect for pesto. Blitz them with garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, parmesan and nuts.
Recipes to try:

Dive Deeper

Human studies: Li N et al. Food Chemistry. 2021Zurbau et al. Journal of the American Heart Association. 2020

History, compounds & biological activities: Gamba et al. Trends in Food Science & Technology. 2021Banihani. Nutrients. 2017Manivannan et al. Nutrients. 2019.

by Dr Rupy Aujla


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