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.
There are a variety of types of radishes in all colors, shapes, and sizes, although the red radish is the most popular type in the United States. This vegetable with its peppery, slightly tart flavor is commonly added to salads or used as a colorful garnish, but this vegetable has more than great flavor. It’s also good from a nutritional and health standpoint.
Radishes contain Vitamin C, zinc, B-complex vitamins and phosphorus. Radishes and their greens provide an excellent source of vitamin C. Radish leaves contain almost six times the vitamin C content of their root and are also a good source of calcium. Red Globes also offer a very good source of the trace mineral molybdenum and are a good source of potassium and folic acid. Radishes also provide a very good source of potassium and copper.
They contain a variety of sulfur-based chemicals that increase the flow of bile. Therefore, they help to maintain a healthy gallbladder and liver, and improve digestion. Fresh radish roots contain a larger amount of vitamin C than cooked radish roots. Radish greens contain far more vitamin C, calcium, and protein than the roots.
- Blood Pressure – Radishes are a great source of potassium, which has been found to help regulate blood pressure.
- Blood Sugar Control – Radishes have a low impact on blood sugar levels. They are very low on the glycemic index, which means that diabetics can eat them without worrying about their insulin levels.
- Cancer Prevention – Radishes are part of the Brassica family, otherwise known as cruciferous vegetables. Research suggests that the antioxidants and other compounds in cruciferous vegetables help in the prevention of cancer. In addition, radishes are high in fiber, which helps fight colon cancer, while compounds known as isothiocyanates affect genetic pathways in cancer cells, even inducing apoptosis (cancer cell death).
- Detoxification – Radishes are believed to be a useful treatment for jaundice because they may help to purify the blood and raise oxygen levels.
- Digestive Health – Radishes stimulate the production of bile. Maintaining a healthy level of bile production is beneficial for digestion, as well as liver and gallbladder health. Additionally, radishes can be used to treat constipation, because they are very high in fiber.
- Diuretic – Diuretic in nature, radishes help with kidney and liver function and may be beneficial in the treatment of urinary disorders.
- Heart Health – Studies have found that the antioxidants in radishes may reduce cholesterol levels in the body, which in turn will lower the risk of heart disease and heart attack. The fiber, vitamins and minerals in radishes make them a smart choice for cardiovascular health. They’ve been shown to regulate blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
- Insect Bites – It has anti pruritic properties and can be used as an effective treatment for insect bites, stings of bees, hornets, wasps etc. Its juice also reduces pain and swelling and soothes the affected area.
- Respiration – If you have chronic bronchial flare-ups, sinus infections or asthma, radishes can act as a natural decongestant.
- Skin Disorders – Vitamin-C, phosphorus, zinc and some members of vitamin-B complex, which are present in radish, are good for skin. The water in it helps maintaining moisture of the skin. Smashed raw radish is a very good cleanser and serves as a very efficient face pack. Due to its disinfectant properties, radish also helps cure skin disorders, such as drying up, rashes, cracks etc. and also refreshes it.
- Weight Loss – Because radishes are high in fiber, low in calories, and low on the glycemic index, they make a great part of any weight loss diet.
Other Benefits: Apart from above benefits, radish is a good appetizer, mouth and breathe freshener, laxative, regulates metabolism, improves blood circulation, is a good treatment for headache, acidity, constipation, nausea, obesity, sore throat, whooping cough, gastric problems, gallbladder stones, heartburn etc.
SELECTION AND STORAGE
In general, radishes are available year-around with peak season during winter and spring. Radishes are most flavorful and juicy during winter.
Look for roots that feature fresh, stout and firm in texture. Their top greens also should be fresh, and feature crispy green without any yellow, shriveled leaves. Avoid roots that have cracks or cuts on their surface. Look carefully for the change in their texture and color. Yellowness indicated the stock is old. If the root yields to pressure and soft, the interior likely be pithy instead of crispy.
Once at home, remove the top greens as they rob nutrients of the roots. Then wash thoroughly in clean water to rid off surface dust and soil. Store them in a zip pouch or plastic bag in the refrigerator where they remain fresh for up to a week.
TIPS FOR PREPARING
Both root and top greens are used for cooking. Peeling may be avoided as the anti-oxidant allyl-isothiocyanates, which gives a peppery pungent flavor to radish, are thickly concentrated in the peel. Just wash the root thoroughly, trim the tip ends, and if you have to peel, then gently pare away superficial thin layer only.
HOW TO ENJOY
- Radishes are eaten raw either as a whole or as slaw or in salads.
- The roots are mixed with other vegetables in the preparation of steamed, stir fried or sautéed recipes in many regions.
- Its top greens oftentimes mixed with other greens like, turnip-greens, etc., is used in the preparation of soups, curries as well as in cooked vegetable recipes.
Radishes may contain goitrogens, plant-based compounds found in cruciferous and Brassica family vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, etc. Goitrogens may cause swelling of thyroid gland and should be avoided in individuals with thyroid dysfunction. However, they may be used liberally in healthy persons..