Radishes Are One of the Most Gut-Friendly Foods You Can Eat, Says an RD—Here’s Why

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As a wellness writer, one of my greatest missions is to celebrate unsung heroes that rightly deserve more airtime. Whether that involves me waxing poetic about plums (over prunes) or covering the merits of buying “ugly” produce, I take great pleasure in reminding readers of less popular but no less tasty and nutritious fare.

With that said, my goal of the day is to put a certain cruciferous veggie on a pedestal: the humble radish. It might not be your first pick when you head to the produce aisle, but based on its variety of health benefits, it absolutely deserves a spot in your shopping cart, and ultimately on your plate.

Experts In This Article
  • Megan Rossi, PhD, registered dietitian and gut-health research fellow at King’s College London

7 radish benefits dietitians want you to be aware of

Let’s jump right into things by getting to the (pun alert) *root* of this crunchy, cruciferous vegetable.

1. They’re rich in vitamin C

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant with boundless potential to aid your health on many levels—and radishes happen to be a great source of it. “Just half a cup of radishes offers about 14 percent of your recommended daily allowance [for vitamin C],” says registered dietitian Megan Rossi, PhD, RD.

Of course, vitamin C is a famous ally for immunity, but that’s not all. “Vitamin C has been shown to help prevent cell damage and [promote] collagen production in test tube studies, which in turn has been shown to support healthy skin and blood vessels,” Dr. Rossi adds.

2. They offer a range of good-for-you micronutrients

Vitamin C isn’t the only micronutrient that these root veggies stand to offer, says Dr. Rossi. They also pack a variety of other antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, including but not limited to vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, beta carotene, potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium. (The more, the merrier.)

3. They pack gut-friendly fiber

According to the USDA, a cup of sliced radishes pack nearly two grams of fiber. Even better, radishes contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, both of which benefit digestion in different ways. As a reminder, soluble fiber slows down digestion—which is good news if you’re dealing with diarrhea, bloating, and stomach cramps—while insoluble fiber revs up digestion, making it helpful for constipation.

4. They contain isothiocyanates

Similar to other cruciferous veggies like cauliflower and cabbage, radish root “has been shown to contain several types of isothiocyanates (ITCs)—which are beneficial plant chemicals—that have shown anti-cancer and gut-loving properties,” Dr. Rossi shares.

According to a 2014 review in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, isothiocyanates “suppress tumor growth by generating reactive oxygen species or by inducing cycle arrest leading to apoptosis.” In short, consuming foods with ITCs—radishes included—can help to reduce the risk of cancer.

5. They’re antifungal

“Radishes contain the antifungal protein RsAFP2, which has been shown to inhibit growth of certain types of yeast, such as Candida albicans, in test tube studies,” Dr. Rossi says. Since candida overgrowth can result in yeast infections, digestive distress, fatigue, and other undesirable symptoms and conditions, many people eat them as part of a candida diet. Consider radishes to be a natural antidote to mitigate your risks.

6. They’re protective against ulcers

Once again, radishes are veritable all-stars for the digestive system, even when juiced. “One study shows that radish juice may help prevent gastric ulcers by protecting gastric tissue and strengthening the mucosal barrier,” Dr. Rossi says. Although this study was performed on rats, the researchers note that the results aligned with the use of radishes to treat ulcers in folk medicine.

7. They’re highly satisfying to eat

ICYMI, there’s science behind the satisfaction of chomping on crunchy foods—with radishes among them. “In the case of fresh produce, like fruits and vegetables, fresher produce tends to be noisier and has a higher nutrient value,” gastrophysicist Charles Spence, PhD, previously told Well+Good.

Crunchy foods can even help you stay more present while eating, reduce stress, and enhance reward pathways. In other words, a bit of crisp and crunch goes a long way to promote your overall eating experience—and even more so when these foods offer additional nutritional benefits to boot.

Tips to get more radishes in your diet

On a parting note, Dr. Rossi suggests a few tasty and creative ways to up your intake of radishes (and thus their diverse benefits):

  • Roast them. “Throw them in with your roasted vegetables; they will not only look great but will be sweet to eat,” the dietitian notes.
  • Cut them up and toss them into your go-to meals. “Add radishes to tacos, wraps, and sandwiches for a satisfying crunch,” Dr. Rossi says. “For a peppery and pretty contrast, you can also slice them up and add them to any salad.” Of course, it’s also worth adding them to your crudité rotation, using them to scoop up hummus, ranch, or whatever your dip of choice may be.
  • Ferment them FTW. “Take inspiration from Japanese and Korean cuisines and pickle them for a vinegary flavor,” Dr. Rossi says.
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