With its peppery, almost spicy flavor, radishes may not be one of the most popular garden vegetables—but they are one of the most nutritious. For centuries, radishes have been used in Ayurvedic Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat fever, sore throat, bile disorders, inflammation, and bacterial and fungal conditions. Plus: they make a striking addition to salads and side dishes—and if you know what to do with them, you’ll be surprised how this underdog veggie can support healthy eating habits.
Radishes are root vegetables from the Brassica family. Close relatives of the radish include broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and turnips to name a few. Radish bulbs, also called globes, come in many shapes and colors. The most popular variety in the United States resembles an amethyst colored golf ball with a small tail. Other varieties are white, purple, or black. They may be larger and oblong in shape. Lighter-colored varieties, including the winter daikon radish, have a milder taste. Radishes become overly pungent if they are left in the ground too long or not eaten right away. For the best flavor and texture, select smaller globes.
Radishes are an excellent source of immunity-boosting Vitamin C. Other plant chemicals in radishes act as antioxidants, which are known for reducing risk for cancer, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses. Several phytochemicals in radishes contain antibacterial and antifungal properties. One antifungal protein is RsAFP2. In research, RsAFP2 caused cell death in Candida albicans, a common fungus normally found in humans, which, when overgrown may cause vaginal yeast infections, oral yeast infections (thrush), and invasive candidiasis.
There are many ways to enjoy radishes and boost the nutrient power of your meals and snacks:
- Add thin radish slices to sandwiches
- Add grated radishes to coleslaw
- Add zest and crunch to tuna salad by adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of chopped radishes
- Top your steak, burger, or veggie burger with grilled radish slices
- Use radishes as a healthy crudité for dips
- Roast or grill radishes with garlic, herbs, olive oil or other healthy fat
One of my favorite ways to eat radishes is these Garlic-Roasted Radishes. I promise even the radish haters will be converted!
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