Saturday, September 2, 2017

The health benefits of radishes

Most people only eat radishes (thinly sliced) as a garnish - usually on a salad.  I think they deserve more respect, though.  What do I mean?  I mean that radishes get the short end of the stick.  They're often lumped in with other unappealing vegetables.  When stories come out about the health benefits of hated foods, radishes usually get overlooked as well.

Today, let’s correct that trend.  Let’s set the record straight, and give the “lowly” radish its due.

Not only do radishes have a wonderful, delicate floral taste eaten raw, but they are extremely healthy.  In fact, in China, the radish replaces the apple as the “enemy” of doctor visits.  An ancient Chinese proverb goes, “Eating pungent radish and drinking hot tea, let the starved doctors beg on their knees.”  So let’s take a look at why you should add radishes to your diet, as an easy, tasty way to up your nutrition game.

Low-Cal, High Fiber

Radishes are extremely low in calories.  In fact, an entire cup of radish - which is much more than you’d use in most dishes - contains only 20 calories.  Calorie counting has very obvious limits, but you don’t need to worry about radishes messing up your calculations.  You can basically eat an unlimited amount without guilt.  However, in that small calorie package, you get plenty of nutritious goodness.

Radishes contain lots of fiber - which is great for your digestion, your gut microbiome and the proper functioning of your body.

Radishes are surprisingly high in Vitamin C.  100 grams of radish (about 12 radishes) contains about 25% of your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of Vitamin C - not enough to call it a day, but more than enough to supplement other sources.

Radishes are high in potassium, which helps alleviate blood pressure, stress, heart & kidney problems, aids metabolism, muscle strength and a host of other benefits.

Radishes also are chock full of antioxidants, which help combat free radicals and cancer.  Radishes contain the antioxidant sulforaphane in particular abundance - most closely associated with broccoli and Brussels sprouts - it’s drawn a lot of attention for its ability to fight cancer.

But it doesn’t end there.

The mystical root vegetable?

Radishes have long been a key ingredient in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine.  According to those traditions, radishes are useful for everything from curing sore throats, to helping the body cool off, to staving off infections.

These traditions aren’t well-vetted by Western medicine, but often these sorts of claims have at least a kernel of truth to them.  For instance, in Chinese medicine radishes are often used to cleanse toxins - and now we know that radishes are indeed rich in antioxidants.

But even if none of the supposed benefits from the eastern world prove true, radishes deserve a place in your rotation.  They are a rare vegetable - full of the important vitamins and minerals found in root vegetables, but without the accompanying calories and empty carbohydrates.  Not to mention, radishes often taste best raw - no need to ruin them through frying or drenching them in sauces.  Clean a few off, slice them up, and they’ll do wonderfully in any summer salad.

Don’t ignore radishes.  They are an incredibly efficient way to get a number of beneficial nutrients in a tiny package.  They can add healthy crunch to your salads, or delicate flavor to, say, a well-prepared fish.

They’ve been overlooked for too long. It’s time radishes get their due!

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