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A storehouse of nutrients, the taproot of the radish plant is consumed all over the world for its health merits and unique taste. Closely related to cabbage, cauliflower, kale, and turnip, it is crunchy and juicy, and usually eaten raw, as a salad, as well as cooked to prepare a variety of recipes. Even its juice is consumed by some middle eastern and Asian populations whom the vegetable is native to. From the cool regions of Asia, radish disseminated to various ancient civilizations. Historical records hold evidence of radish consumption by the Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks, who served radish with vinegar and honey, In India, radish has been in use for a variety of medical and culinary purposes. The healing properties of radish are well summarised in a Chinese proverb that says, “Eating pungent radish and drinking hot tea, let the starved doctors beg on their knees.”

Some basic facts about radish:

  • Scientific name: Raphanus raphanistrum subsp. sativus
  • Family:  Brassicaceae
  • Common name: Radish, Mooli or Mula
  • Sanskrit name: Neelvarn
  • Parts used: Root, seeds, and leaves
  • Native and geographical distribution: Growth of different types of radish is broadly seen all over the world today. Its growth is distributed in North America, tropical Asia, and coastal regions of the Mediterranean. West Bengal, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Punjab, and Assam are major radish growing states in India.
  • Interesting facts: During the construction of the Pyramids in Egypt, the workers were given radishes as ration.  
    A city called Oaxaca in Mexico celebrates an annual Night of Radishes, every 23rd of December, dedicated to the carving of huge radishes.  
    It was one of the first European crops introduced to the Americans.
     

 

  1. Varieties and cultivation of radish
  2. Radish nutrition facts
  3. Radish health benefits
  4. Radish side effects
  5. Takeaway

A quick growing crop, radish is commonly grown as a companion crop or an intercrop between rows of other vegetables. There are multifarious varieties of radish which are mainly divided into the Asiatic and the European varieties. The Asian or indigenous variety is usually white in colour with a conical shape. On the other hand, the exotic European varieties bear a bright red skin with white flesh and are somewhat round in shape.

As radish is a winter crop, it acquires the perfect taste, texture, and size at 10 to 15-degree Celsius. The pungency of radish is high in warm conditions and tends to decrease with an increase in temperature. Being a root vegetable, it needs well-drained and deep-tilled soils.

Approximately 10-12 kg seeds suffice for a hectare and are sown at any time during winters (in the plains) or during summers (in the hills). Radish plants need a moist soil to grow. So, a daily supply of water is needed for the first few days. The harvesting time is of acute importance as leaving the root too long in the soil makes it inedible. The mature leaves are pulled out in the 3rd week along with the vegetable and the green top is cut off.

Radish is low in saturated fats and it contains very low cholesterol amount. It is enriched with vitamins and minerals. Other than this, it is a very good source of dietary fiber.

As per the USDA Nutrient Database, 100 g of Radish contains the following values:

Nutrient Value per 100 g
Water 95.27 g
Energy 16 kcal
Protein 0.68 g
Fats 0.10 g
Carbohydrate 3.40 g
Fiber 1.6 g
Sugars 1.86 g
Minerals  
Calcium 25 mg
Iron 0.34 mg
Magnesium 10 mg
Phosphorus 20 mg
Potassium 233 mg
Sodium 39 mg
Zinc 0.28 mg
Vitamins  
Vitamin C 14.8 mg
Vitamin B1 0.012 mg
Vitamin B2 0.039 mg
Vitamin B3 0.254 mg
Vitamin B-6 0.071 mg
Vitamin B9 25 µg
  • For weight loss: Methanol extracts of radish have been suggested as a weight loss agent and a possible treatment of obesity.
  • For high blood pressure: The intake of radish seeds has a hypotensive effect as it assists the process of vasodilation (widening of vessel walls, which allows blood to flow easily).
  • For digestive issues: Radish has a carminative (reduces bloating) and a laxative (assists bowel function) effect and thus helps in relieving constipation and stomach gas by allowing the easy passage of stools.
  • For piles: Consumption of raw radish and topical application of a paste made of honey and radish can help in relieving piles.
  • For jaundice: Drinking juice made from the leaves of radish and eating some raw radish is used as a traditional remedy for reducing the symptoms of jaundice.
  • For kidney stones: Studies have found that eating radish helps to reduce the risk of kidney stones as it increases the excretion of calcium oxalate through the urine.
  • For fertility: Radish can increase the production of semen and is thus helpful in improving sexual function and fertility as it has a warming effect on the body.
  1. Radish for diabetes
  2. Radish for liver toxicity
  3. Radish for thyroid
  4. Radish seeds for high blood pressure
  5. Radish seeds for obesity
  6. Radish benefits for stomach
  7. Radish for kidney stones
  8. Radish for jaundice
  9. Radish for piles
  10. Radish for male fertility

Radish for diabetes

Diabetes is one of the major health concerns in the world. According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), diabetes is a trouble faced by almost 371 million people worldwide today. Since, most antibiotics are associated with side effects, WHO highly encourages the exploration of antidiabetic agents of plant origin. Lots of research is done on the antidiabetic potential of various plants and their products all over the globe. Radish is one such plant. Studies have suggested that radish exercises its antidiabetic activity by affecting certain hormones that act on glucose homeostasis. Japanese radish sprouts were found to reduce the level of plasma insulin in streptozocin-induced in vivo (animal models) diabetes models. It has been further suggested that antioxidants like anthocyanins, present in radish, might be the chemical components that are responsible for such hypoglycemic (blood sugar reducing) response. Moreover, Radish extracts also reduce glucose absorption which could prove functional for the management and inhibition of diabetes.

Radish for liver toxicity

The liver is assigned with the task of clearing various chemicals, which enter the body in the form of drugs and medicines. These medicinal and chemical agents sometimes have an adverse effect on or even injure the liver. They are known as hepatotoxins and the damage caused to the liver is called hepatotoxicity. Radishes have been studied to have remedial properties against hepatotoxicity. Findings of a toxicology research confirm that radish enzyme extracts can be used for the improvement of liver disorders.

Radish for thyroid

Thyroid is a condition caused by over or under functioning of the thyroid gland. It affects the secretion of the thyroid hormones which is responsible for maintaining body metabolism. A dysfunctional thyroid thus disrupts the entire working of the body and causes symptoms like fatigue, muscle and joint pain, weight gain or weight loss, constipation, depression, etc. Fortunately, thyroid disorder can be prevented by consuming cruciferous vegetables like radish. These vegetables contain goitrogenic (increases release of thyroid stimulating hormones) substances, which,  along with the intake of iodine in certain patterns, can increase the weight of the thyroid gland, reduce thyroid hormone profiles, and elevate the level of thyrotropin. All of these factors are desirable in case of a hyperactive thyroid condition. Besides, radish contains raphanin, which balances the secretion of thyroid hormones in the body leading to more balanced body functions.

(Read more: Hyperthyroidism treatment)

Radish seeds for high blood pressure

Hypertension or high blood pressure are very common conditions which are otherwise associated with a high mortality rate all over the world . Several studies have been done to find a natural solution for hypertension. The seeds of the radish plant, scientifically known as Raphani Semen, are mentioned in Chinese records as a treatment for hypertension. In a study, water-soluble alkaloids from the seeds were revealed to have a noteworthy hypotensive (reduces blood pressure) function. It has been claimed that the blood pressure lowering effect of radish may be brought about by its vasodilation function, which is basically widening of blood vessels, resulting in reduced blood pressure.

Radish seeds for obesity

Obesity is a disease charecterised by the accumulation of excess body fat..It is a cause of major discomfort for the person and extreme cases it can lead to chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. Sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy dietary choices have turned obesity into a disease of epidemic proportions worldwide. Radish is considered an excellent weight loss agent in some traditional medicine systems. Methanol extracts from radish seeds were taken into consideration as a treatment for obesity and tested for their effects on inhibition of pancreatic lipase (a digestive enzyme secreted by the pancreas). Though these extracts were found to have weak inhibitory activity, they acted significantly in suppressing the activity of pancreatic lipase in vivo studies.

Moreover, the seeds carry fatty acids like linolenic acid, nervonic acid, stearic acid, and palmitoleic acid which have beneficial implications for obesity-related disorders.

More studies are still needed to confirm the anti-obesity effects of radish.

(Read more: Diet chart for weight loss)

Radish benefits for stomach

The deteriorating quality of diet is quickly leading to the prevalence of various gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. Quite frequently, we hear people complaining of stomach aches, burning sensations in the stomach, and constipation. Natural remedies for such problems are gradually coming in vogue. It was reported by University of Saudi Arabia in 2008, that the fresh juice obtained from leaves have carminative (reduce bloating) and laxative (regulate bowel movement) properties. Radish root can be used for reducing the severity of various gastric ailments including constipation and stomach gas. It has high fiber content which gives bulk to the food in the intestine, thus easing the passage of stools.

Additionally, the seeds are potential digestive which means they help regulate the digestion and absorption of food in the body.

So, it could be said that radish works wonderfully against gastric problems.

Radish for kidney stones

A rise in herbal research and extraction of numerous bioactive phytochemicals (plant-based chemicals) has lead to the widespread use of herbal therapies in the modern century. Many diseases have found their cure and prevention in the natural chemicals present in agricultural products. Kidney stones is one such condition. It is developed by the deposition of small crystals in the urinary tract which includes kidneys, ureter or urinary bladder. The condition is quite distressing and may lead to symptoms like abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and painful urination in some cases. Radish is one of the food items recommended for prevention of calculi or stone formation. It works in multiple ways, performing antioxidant, anti-microbial, analgesic (pain relieving), anti-inflammatory, and diuretic (removes excess salt) activities. A study reveals that radish influences and increases urinary calcium oxalate excretion, and regulates oxalate metabolism, avoiding the risk of a stone.

Radish for jaundice

Jaundice is a liver disorder which obstructs the proper functioning of the bile-producing liver cells, leading to an increased bilirubin level in the body. High bilirubin levels then show up as a yellowish discoloration of the skin, tongue, and eyes, which is one of the identifying symptoms of Jaundice. Unfortunately, poor sanitary and hygienic conditions have made jaundice to be a very common disease in certain parts of India. Radish is one of the traditional remedies used for reducing the symptoms of jaundice in India. Consuming boiled and strained juice of radish leaves and eating raw radish as salad are known to have remedial effects on patients of jaundice.

Radish for piles

A condition of chronic constipation, rectal swelling and bleeding, and acute bowel discomfort is identified as hemorrhoids or piles in common language. In a research based on herbal treatment for piles, it was found that consuming raw radish along with a topical application of a paste of a honey radish blend may help soothe the condition.

Radish for male fertility

Infertility is an issue faced by many couples these days. A number of physical and physiological factors have been associated with the occurrence of infertility in both males and females. In the case of male infertility, the amount of semen produced is a major concern. Several studies are being done globally to understand the link between diet and infertility. According to a study done in Iran, consumption of nutritional food may be beneficial in reducing the risk of fertility in men. It was further claimed that any nutritious food that is warming to the body and causes flatulence is very beneficial for the sexual functions. Radish is one of the foods included in a list of foods named for their semen-increasing function.

In spite of the above-mentioned myriad of benefits that radish offers, excessive or untimely intake of the vegetable can be sickening. Following are a few side effects of radish consumption.

  • Being a cure for hypertension and high blood pressure, intake of radish may lower the blood pressure to an undesirable rate and lead to weakness and nausea.
  • Overconsumption of radish may lead to dehydration.
  • A study on animal models revealed that radish extracts can induce a state of hypoactive (less active) thyroid as it increases the weight of the thyroid gland and reduces thyroid hormone secretion. This can be beneficial in case of a hyperactive thyroid disorder but not a hypoactive one.
  • As radish has a high content of fiber, over-intake of radish can result in diarrhoea, abdominal pain, vomiting, and nausea.

With so many proven benefits and minimal side effects, radish deserves a good spot in your vegetable basket. However, proper washing and cleaning of radish before consuming is essential.

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References

  1. United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. Basic Report: 11429, Radishes, raw. National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release [Internet]
  2. Saleem Ali Banihani. Radish (Raphanus sativus) and Diabetes. Nutrients. 2017 Sep; 9(9): 1014. PMID: 28906451
  3. Lee SW et al. Effects of White Radish (Raphanus sativus) Enzyme Extract on Hepatotoxicity. Toxicol Res. 2012 Sep;28(3):165-72. PMID: 24278606
  4. Chandra AK, Mukhopadhyay S, Ghosh D, Tripathy S. Effect of radish (Raphanus sativus Linn.) on thyroid status under conditions of varying iodine intake in rats. Indian J Exp Biol. 2006 Aug;44(8):653-61. PMID: 16924836
  5. Tung-Ting Sham et al. A Review of the Phytochemistry and Pharmacological Activities of Raphani Semen . Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013; 2013: 636194. PMID: 23935670
  6. Kumar A. Influence of radish consumption on urinary calcium oxalate excretion. Nepal Med Coll J. 2004 Jun;6(1):41-4. PMID: 15449653
  7. T.G. GOHIL, BRIJESH SHAH AND ALPESH THAKUR. Study of the status of ethnomedicine to cure jaundice through home remedies in Valsad district, Gujarat. International Journal of Plant Sciences, (January to June, 2010) Vol. 5 Issue 1 : 340-343
  8. Fatemeh Nejatbakhsh et al. Recommended foods for male infertility in Iranian traditional medicine . Iran J Reprod Med. 2012 Nov; 10(6): 511–516. PMID: 25246919
  9. Chandra AK, Mukhopadhyay S, Ghosh D, Tripathy S. Effect of radish (Raphanus sativus Linn.) on thyroid status under conditions of varying iodine intake in rats. Indian J Exp Biol. 2006 Aug;44(8):653-61. PMID: 16924836
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