Maybe you think of them as those cute little, heart-shaped bulbs that can add some zip to your salads. If you’re in Asia, you call them daikon and recognize them as part of your everyday food-taking, such as for main dishes, soups, and garnish. They can even be steamed, sautéed, or boiled for a zesty side dish.

Wherever you are, radishes are far more than a culinary accent. They are, in fact, packed with health benefits. First recorded in the 3rd century B.C, radishes became one of the first European crops introduced to the Americas: long, round, pungent, mild, red, pink, white, even black. Their spiciness is due to their various chemical compounds, including glucosinolate, myrosinase, and isisothiocyanate.

Health-wise, radishes have beneficial effects for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, other serious diseases, even aging skin. Here are 12 reasons to eat more radishes and spice up your health at the genetic level:

  1. Reduce Cancer

In addition to their phytochemicals and anthocyamins (both of which pack anti-cancer properties), radishes also contain vitamin C. Vitamin C acts as a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals inside the cells, thus affecting the DNA directly and reducing cancer as well as cancer risk. Radishes also have anti-inflammatory properties, a nutritional component in the fight against cancer.

  1. Control High Blood Pressure

Radishes are rich in potassium and help stabilize the sodium-potassium levels in the body, thus helping to keep blood pressure at normal levels. Nutrition Research and Practice noted that radish leaves lowered blood pressure extract from 214 mmHg to 166 mmHg in participants with hypertension.

  1. Reduce High Blood Sugar

Diabetes, a growing health concern in this country, can be curbed by radishes, as well. Radishes do not cause blood sugar levels to rise, a major challenge for diabetics who are unable to absorb the insulin produced by their pancreas or unable to produce insulin. Thus, they must avoid sugary or starchy foods. Radishes help: They have a low glycemic index and are rich in fiber.

  1. Stabilize Urinary Disorders

Diurectic in nature, radishes help wash away toxins accumulated in the kidneys as well as the toxins accumulated in the blood. They help cure inflammation and the burning sensation during urination. They also help inhibit infections for a variety of urinary conditions.

  1. Treat Respiratory Conditions and Sore Throats

Pungent they are, and as such, radishes help prevent a variety of illnesses. For respiratory conditions, radishes help eliminate excess mucus in the throat. By clearing the sinuses, they are a boost for relieving congestion and soothing sore throats.

  1. Improve Immune System

Since radishes are packed with Vitamin C, they can become an easy way to help you kickstart your immune system. A half-cup of radishes daily provides nearly 15% of your recommended daily intake of Vitamin C. By increasing the efficiency of your immune system through Vitamin C, radishes should be part of your daily nutritional arsenal.

  1. Fight Colds and Coughs

With anti-congestive properties, radishes are a real boost to colds and coughs. They help remove congestion in your throat, and with their boost to your immunity, they also help stabilize your system to help prevent getting colds and coughs in the first place.

  1. Improve Asthma

Their anti-congestive properties mean that radishes are a real boon for asthma patients by helping to prevent the formation of congestion in your throat. Additionally, radishes fight allergies and protect the respiratory linings from infection. By clearing the sinuses, radishes reduce congestion.

  1. Relieve Constipation

Because of their very high fiber content, radishes are a natural remedy for constipation. They add bulk to bowel movements, thus helping establish regularity. They can also firm loose bowel movements, aiding diarrhea, and they are known to aid the production of bile, so important for good digestion. Liver and gallbladder are beneficiaries.

  1. Eliminate Dehydration

Radishes are mostly composed of water and so a great source of hydration. Staying hydrated is essential for the digestive system as it improves digestion and helps the body have the proper uptake of nutrients from food.

  1. Enhance Weight Loss

Satiety is another blessing from these root vegetables. High in fiber and low in calories, they quickly bring a feeling of satiety. A single 100g serving of raw radishes contain only 16 calories. They are also low on the glycemic index, thus help increase bowel movements and keep the metabolism at peak function.

  1. Revitalize Younger Looking Skin

Radishes are a double beauty bounty. With so much Vitamin C and antioxidants, they can prevent free radical damage to the skin (good for aging skin and sun exposure). Additionally, try applying crushed, raw radishes directly on your skin – a great way to cleanse your skin.

Other benefits come to those who have jaundice, by supplying fresh oxygen to the red blood cells. Radishes also relieve symptoms of piles. Lastly, radishes lower body temperature and reduce the inflammation caused by fevers. Phew. What a bounty of health benefits from those adorable little root vegetables.

Beevi SS, et al. Hexane of Raphanus sativus L. roots inhibits cell proliferation and induces apoptosis in human cancer cells by modulating genes related to apoptotic pathway. Plant Foods Hum Nutrition, 2010 Sep; 65(3) 200-9. Doi: 10. 1007/s11130-010-0178-0. PubMed PMID: 20652750.
Chung D-H, et al. The antihypertensive effect of ethyl acetate extract of radish leaves in spontaneously hypertensive rats. Nutrition Research and Practice 2012; 6(4): 308-314, doi:10.4162/nrp.2012.6.4.308