Radishes are a root vegetable that date back to pre-Roman times when it was cultivated and used medicinally to treat a variety of conditions, particularly digestive and liver related problems. 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. What are the health benefits of radishes?
Health benefits of radishes: They’re low in calories.
Radishes are an excellent choice for calorie conscious eaters. With only twenty calories per cup, this vegetable can be enjoyed by the handful. Despite their low calorie content, they’re surprisingly filling. What’s not to love about that?
Health benefits of radishes: They may provide cancer protection.
Radishes are a member of the brassica group of vegetables, a vegetable group which contains nutritional superstars such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. This vegetable group is rich in glucosinolates, compounds that are being studied for their anti-cancer properties. Glucosinolates form compounds known as sulforaphenes in the body which activate the P450 system of liver enzymes that detoxify cancer causing chemicals. Eating radishes may provide a little extra protection against environmental pollutants and other carcinogens that most people are exposed to on a daily basis.
Health benefits of radishes: They’re a good source of antioxidants.
Antioxidant activity has been demonstrated in radishes, particularly black radishes. They’ve been shown in the laboratory to counteract free radical damage which can lead to premature aging and increase the risk of chronic disease. Being a member of the brassica family, who would have expected less?
Health benefits of radishes: They’re a good source of vitamin C
Vitamin C is an antioxidant vitamin that’s important for building strong collagen and maintaining a healthy immune system. A serving of radishes supplies a full quarter of the daily requirement for vitamin C.
Health benefits of radishes: Other health properties
A variety of other health properties have been attributed to radishes ranging from improving digestive function to balancing thyroid function. Radishes are also thought to have a slight laxative and diuretic effect. Although preliminary studies in rats have shown that the black radish may stimulate bile function, there are few studies to support most of these claims and they’re based primarily on anecdotal evidence.
The bottom line? Radishes are a surprisingly healthy, low calorie vegetable option and a good addition to the grocery list. Why not give them a try?