Radishes add a welcome crunch to your salads and a healthy boost for your heart.
These humble root vegetables might not command much attention, but they do offer noteworthy nutrition. They come in a wealth of colors, ranging from white to purple to black, and can be round or long and cylindrical.
Radishes can be cooked, eaten raw, or pickled, depending on your taste or preference. People usually consume them raw as a crunchy vegetable in salads or as part of a number of European dishes. Middle Easterners may drink radish juice to get nutrients and other perks.
In folk medicine in Greece and the Arab world, radishes are regarded as household remedies for conditions such as gallstones, jaundice, liver problems, indigestion, rectal prolapse, and other gastric woes. Here are some of their health benefits, as backed by modern research.
1. Better Digestion
A half-cup of raw radish provides 1 gram (g) of dietary fiber. Fiber has been linked to improved digestion and eating more fibers is linked to lower rates of obesity, Type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
Radish leaves may be particularly helpful for digestion. According to the findings of a 2008 study, animals fed a high-cholesterol diet had a good fiber source in radish leaf powder, which helped enhance their digestive function. Radishes are known to promote the production of bile, a crucial element of optimal digestion that assists the liver and gallbladder.
2. Relief of Urinary Discomfort
Radishes are diuretic, which means they help increase the production of urine. Since ancient times, extracts from the plant have been used to treat urinary infections. This and other benefits are mostly attributed to the presence of glucosinolates, polyphenols, and isothiocyanates.
A radish-containing diet was also found to increase the excretion of calcium oxalate, which forms kidney stones, versus self-selected diets.
The crystal count in the urine was found to be significantly higher in both men and women, meaning that the substance was excreted rather than left in the body where it could lead to painful stones.
3. Liver and Gallbladder Protection
Radish is known to have protective effects on the liver and gallbladder. Based on a 2012 study on animal models, white radish enzyme extracts may shield against hepatotoxicity (chemical-driven liver damage).
“R. sativus extract did not show any toxic effects and could be considered as a potent hepatoprotectant,” the researchers wrote, noting that the leaf powder may be effective in improving levels of transaminase and total bilirubin—two markers of liver health.
In another study, black radish juice relieved cholesterol gallstones and decreased triglycerides while increasing HDL cholesterol levels in mice. In Mexico, black radish juice is a folk treatment for gallstones, as well as for reducing cholesterol.
4. Anticancer Properties
A 2010 study linked radish root extract, particularly its various types of isothiocyanates, to cell death in some cancer cell lines. The root “exerts potential chemopreventive efficacy and induces apoptosis in cancer cell lines through modulation of genes involved in the apoptotic signaling pathway,” noted the researchers.
Radish seed extract, too, was seen in a 2019 study to induce cancer cell death and reduce the migration of oral squamous cell carcinoma, thus serving as a potential anticancer drug.
5. Enhanced Cardiovascular Health
Radishes are a rich source of anthocyanins, flavonoids that not only give them their vibrant color, but also a number of other health benefits.
Epidemiological studies show that increased anthocyanin consumption lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease. These flavonoids usually interact with other phytochemicals for synergistic effects and possibly regulate various signaling pathways involved in heart disease development.
Anthocyanins display vital properties that may benefit both heart disease and cancer cases in humans.
Radishes in Your Vegetable Garden
Consider planting spring radishes, with successive planting of short rows every 10 to 14 days. You may also opt to plant them in late winter in a shielded cold frame, window box, or container in the house or on your patio. Sow the seeds a quarter-inch to a half-inch deep, and thin the spring varieties to a half-inch to one inch in between plants. Winter radishes, on the other hand, should be thinned to two to four inches or farther apart for the larger roots to develop.
The good news is radishes grow well in nearly any soil, as long as it’s prepared properly, fertilized naturally, and maintains enough moisture.
This root vegetable matures quickly and should be watched closely to ensure it’s harvested at the right time.
You may eat radishes in various ways, such as baking and sauteing them with garlic and herbs, adding thin slices to your sandwich, or pickling them as an addition to your batch of kimchi.
You may also introduce added crunch to your salads through radishes.
Learn more promising health benefits of the humble yet mighty radish on the GreenMedInfo.com database.