6 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Radishes, Your New Favorite, Crunchy Veggie

Here’s the nutritional lowdown on this underrated root vegetable.

Radishes are often overlooked at the supermarket. But if you want to switch up your vegetable game, add these pinkish-red orbs to your cart. Known for their peppery flavor and crunchy texture, radishes are packed with antioxidants, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals. Plus, they're a type of cruciferous vegetable like cauliflower and kale, so they're obviously teeming with health benefits.

Bonus: Radishes are some of the easiest vegetables to grow. If you're a gardening newbie, try adding radish seeds to your planting rotation. Ahead, learn what registered dietitians have to say about important radish nutrition and health benefits.

Nutritious Reasons to Eat More Radishes

They're high in antioxidants.

Antioxidants neutralize, or "turn off," harmful molecules called free radicals. (In high amounts, free radicals cause cell damage and oxidative stress, leading to chronic conditions like cancer or heart disease.)

Examples of radish antioxidants include glucosinolates, or sulfur-containing compounds mainly found in cruciferous veggies. According to Nora Saul, RD, LDN, CDCES, registered dietitian and diabetes clinical lead at Silver Fern Healthcare, glucosinolates fight oxidative stress and protect cells by reducing free radical damage.

Radishes also contain antioxidants like vitamin C, folate, and anthocyanins, aka plant compounds that give radishes their reddish hue.

They can control blood sugar and manage diabetes.

Your body stabilizes blood sugar by producing insulin, a hormone that moves glucose from the blood and into your cells. As it turns out, the anthocyanins in radishes can lend a hand.

According to the journal Nutrients, anthocyanins improve insulin sensitivity, or how well your cells respond to insulin and take up glucose. Radishes also contain catechin, a compound that triggers insulin secretion.

Additionally, "radishes provide fiber, which can help slow down digestion" of sugar from other food, says Alison Acerra, MS, RDN, registered dietitian and founder of Strategic Nutrition Design. This prevents spikes in blood sugar that, over time, can contribute to poor insulin sensitivity and diabetes.

They have essential nutrients, like vitamin C, for immune function.

Looking for tasty new ways to eat more vitamin C? One cup of raw radishes boasts 17 milligrams of this antioxidant, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. That's about 20 percent of the daily recommended intake of 90 milligrams and 75 milligrams for men and women, respectively.

According to the journal Nutrients, vitamin C supports immune function by enhancing the activity of phagocytes, or cells that "eat" harmful germs. This key vitamin is also an antioxidant, as mentioned above, meaning it can protect cells from free radical damage.

Acerra adds that radishes contain selenium, another immune-boosting nutrient. Selenium keeps you healthy by activating T and B cells, aka white blood cells involved in your body's immune response.

They're full of fiber and great for digestive health.

Radishes offer a combo of soluble and insoluble fiber, which is great news for your GI tract. (Both types of fiber can make it easier to go number two.) Soluble fiber—which dissolves in water—can ease diarrhea by reducing excess fluid.

On the flip side, insoluble fiber does not dissolve in water, according to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. This type of fiber bulks up the stool, making it useful for relieving constipation and promoting regular bowel movements, says registered dietitian Amanda Izquierdo, MPH, RD, LDN.

They help protect your heart.

Thanks to antioxidants called anthocyanins, radishes may reduce your risk of heart disease. According to the Journal of Translational Medicine, anthocyanins protect your heart by inhibiting inflammation caused by oxidative stress.

Anthocyanins also can also reduce high blood pressure, a major risk factor for heart disease, according to Izquierdo. Here's how: Anthocyanins decrease inflammation in the arteries, keeping atherosclerosis at bay. Atherosclerosis is when plaque builds up in your arteries, restricting blood flow to and from your heart.

The glucosinolates in radishes offer similar heart-healthy benefits. In the body, glucosinolates break down into compounds called isothiocyanates, according to Saul. Isothiocyanates have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, further preventing atherosclerosis and protecting your heart.

They provide key minerals like calcium, iron, and potassium.

Radishes also contain small amounts of minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium—a nutrient that adds to the heart-healthy benefits mentioned above. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eating potassium-rich foods can decrease high blood pressure.

One cup of raw radishes contains 268 milligrams, which can help you reach the recommended daily intake of 3,400 milligrams and 2,600 milligrams for men and women, respectively.

5 Delicious Radish Recipes to Make (and Reap the Healthy Rewards)

Radishes can be served in numerous ways to add some peppery zing to your plate. Serve them raw along with other crunchy veggies and homemade hummus on a crudité platter or as an afternoon snack. Pickle them for a zingy addition to entrees. Slice them thin to top fish, tacos, salad, nutty noodle dishes, or grain bowls. Toss them in olive oil and roast on a sheet pan with other root vegetables for a quick and healthy side dish.

Little Gems and Radishes With Ricotta Salata and Seeds

Top wedges of gorgeous Little Gem lettuce with peppery mixed radishes. Look for black, breakfast, French, Easter, and watermelon radishes for a rainbow array that's almost too pretty to eat.

Get the recipe.

Miso Roasted Radishes

Prepare for a true explosion of flavor from the humblest of ingredients. Crisp radishes marry soft, caramelized shallots in the oven—and the whole thing is tossed in a tangy, savory, good-for-your-gut combo of miso and apple cider vinegar.

Get the recipe.

Crispy Chicken With Roasted Radishes

Chicken dinner gets revamped thanks to uber-crispy skin, lemony, buttery juices, and bright radishes.

Get the recipe.

Quick Pickled Radishes

There's nothing a pickled radish can't make more vibrant. Ramen noodles, salad, tacos, salmon, or even a cocktail!

Get the recipe.

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