The Health and Nutrition Benefits of Radishes

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The common radish, Raphanus sativus is a vegetable which nearly everyone knows well. While most people buy them to add crunch and warmth to salads, seldom is much thought given to the nutritional benefits radishes offer. Vegetable gardeners are much the same way, almost every gardener plants radishes; either because they are some of the earliest crops to the table or just to mark the rows where slower germinating crops have been planted.

Radishes are a cruciferous vegetable and a relative of mustard. They are crisp; they are crunchy and zesty but are they good for one’s health? It turns out that they are.

Fresh Radishes

Fresh Radishes (Photo: wikimedia.org)

Surprisingly good for you

Radishes are a rich source of calcium, and the trace nutrients manganese, copper and magnesium. They are a good source of folate. Folate is the B vitamin that combats anemia, aids in cell development and maintenance and is essential to the formation of RNA and DNA, the very building blocks of life.

Radishes are rich in vitamin C, a most important vitamin and of potassium as well as being a great source of fiber. It is a source of selenium. It is a particularly good source of vitamin b-2 or riboflavin, a vitamin which humans require but which cannot be produced within the body.

Riboflavin is involved in producing energy at the cellular level, and in converting carbohydrates into sugars which the body can then use. It is essential to the formation of blood cells and antibodies. Riboflavin helps to strengthen the immune system and aids the body to heal wounds and bruising.

The radish seems to be a tiny vegetable pharmacy.

Radishes are also a source of vitamin B-6, a vitamin that is essential to the production of over 60 of the bodies enzymes and therefore indirectly to maintaining many of the bodies metabolic processes. B-6 helps fuel the generation of the brains neurotransmitters, vital to optimum brain function.

A few additional and virtually unknown benefits

What else does the radish bring to the table? The fatty acid omega-3 is another example. Considered essential, omega-3 is not produced by the body. Radishes are an excellent vegetable source of this compound. Omega 3 reduces the risk of heart attack, improves brain function, aids normal growth and development, boosts good cholesterol and reduces triglyceride levels. It may also help to reduce hypertension.

Radishes offer more; they are the source of the powerful anti-carcinogen Indole-3-carbinol or IC3 which protects the liver, helps detoxify the body and guards against estrogen related cancers.

They also supply a powerful anti-oxidant called Allyl Isothiocyanate.

This is a lot to expect from a crunchy salad additive but the unsung radish delivers it all. Perhaps as important as what a radish offers is what it does not; it is low in saturated fat and extremely low in “bad” cholesterol.

Hide the ice cream

Perhaps the next time you are looking for a crunchy snack, you might pass by the chips and pretzels, and visit the produce aisle instead. There are bunches of crunchy radish goodness to be found there, ready to do your body a lot of good, at small expense.

Mac Pike

Mac writes about gardening, cultivation, and sometimes produces uniquely humorous articles from Zone 6. Mac enjoys finding new and interesting ways to accomplish growing and competing with bears in wooded Northern New Jersey.

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