The radish (botanical name Raphanus sativus) is a very common palatable root vegetable belonging to the Brassicaceae family, which was domesticated in Europe prior to the Roman era. In effect, today radishes are cultivated as well as consumed by people across the globe. There are several varieties of radishes that differ in color, size and even the period required for cultivating the different varieties. It may be noted here that a number of radishes are simply cultivated for their seeds; especially the oilseed radishes are cultivated for this purpose. As the name of the variety oilseed suggests, this variety of radish is basically grown for obtaining oil from them.
Similar to several other members belonging to the cruciferous family, for instance, cabbage, broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts, radishes enclose certain chemical compounds that possess cancer-protective attributes. Since the time of documented history, radishes have been effectively used in the form of a therapeutic food to treat liver problems. In effect, radishes enclose an assortment of chemicals that are sulfur-based and encourage enhanced bile flow. Hence, radishes facilitate in maintaining a fit and fine liver and gallbladder, while promoting digestion. Compared to cooked radish, raw radish roots enclose more amounts of vitamin C.
Compared to the radish root, the green leaves of radish enclose much more calcium, protein and vitamin C. In addition, radishes contain rich amounts of potassium, and folic acid. They are also an excellent natural resource of riboflavin, vitamin B6 and minerals such as copper, magnesium and calcium. For instance, consumption of a cupful of chopped red radish roots supplies us with about 20 calories, mostly from carbohydrates.
Complete sunlit areas, a sandy loam soil having a pH of anything between 6.5 and 7.0 are ideal conditions for growing radishes. The growing season of radishes lasts from April to June and then again during the period between October and January in most regions in North America. However, in Europe and Japan, radishes are available throughout the year primarily owing to the variety of radishes cultivated in these parts of the world. In the United States, radishes are a very ordinary garden crop and it makes this plant a preferred choice for children’s gardens owing to its rapid harvesting cycle.
In summer, radishes mature very fast as several varieties germinating in a brief period of just three to seven days and becoming mature in only three to four weeks from the period of sowing. The period of harvesting of radishes can be prolonged during this time of the year by means of repeated planting and in intervals of one or two weeks. Like any other root crops, when you till the soil properly, it helps in the rapid growth of the roots. Nevertheless, radishes are also employed in no-till farming without tilling the soil with a view to facilitate reverse compaction.
Radishes are very adaptable and can grow as well as thrive on a majority of soil types. Nevertheless, they grow excellently on sandy loam soils especially to produce good crops during the winter and spring. On the other hand, soils having a solid crust are likely to weaken the growth of the plants. It may be underlined that the deepness at which the seeds are sown has a direct effect on the plants growth as well as their root size. It is recommended that the seeds ought to be sown at a depth of between 1 cm (0.4 inch) for smaller sized radishes and at an depth of about 4 cm (1.6 inches) in the case of the larger sized radishes.
The health benefits of radishes
Radish is a very valuable therapeutic root vegetable that is used to cure numerous health conditions. It contains a number of chemical compounds that are beneficial for our well being. Below is a brief discussion on the condition specific benefits of consuming radishes.
- As radish is extremely beneficial for the health of the liver and the stomach, it is an effective remedy for jaundice. In addition, this root vegetable is also an excellent detoxifier, which means that it helps in purifying the blood. In fact, radish is amazingly effective in curing jaundice as this root vegetable facilitates in getting rid of bilirubin and, at the same time, curbs its production within the body. Additionally, radish also restricts the destruction of the red blood cells when one is suffering from jaundice by means of augmented supply of fresh oxygen into the bloodstream. To cure jaundice, the black variety of radish is more preferable. Apart from its root, the leaves of the radish are also effective in curing jaundice.
- Weight loss
- As radish is a very filling food, it easily fills up the stomach and satiates hunger while not giving the consumer very many calories. In addition, radishes contain very less amount of digestible carbohydrates, but are very high in roughage and water content. Therefore, people who are trying to lose surplus weight may find radishes to be an excellent food.
- Radish is an excellent food for those suffering from piles. This root vegetable has high contents of roughage (indigestible carbohydrates), which helps in retaining water, digestion and also facilitates in treating constipation, which is one of the major reasons for developing piles, thereby providing relief to people enduring piles. Since radish is also an excellent detoxifier, it is able to heal piles rapidly. The juice of radish is also soothing for the digestive as well as the excretory system and thereby helps to ease the pain endured by people suffering from piles.
- As radishes are excellent detoxifiers and contain high amounts of folic acid, vitamin C and anthocyanins, they are useful in treating a number of types of cancer, especially oral cancer, stomach cancer, and cancer of the kidney, colon as well as the intestines.
- Urinary disorders
- Radishes possess diuretic properties and, therefore, facilitate in augmented urine flow. Drinking the juice of radish is also effective in curing the inflammation and burning sensations while urinating. In addition, radish juice also purifies the kidneys and slows down the spread of kidney and urinary tract infections. This way, consuming radish or drinking its juice largely helps in curing urinary problems.
- Kidney disorders
- As radishes possess diuretic, disinfectant as well purifier properties, they help in curing several types of kidney problems. The diuretic attributes of radish aid in sweeping away the toxic substances that have amassed in the kidneys. The cleansing attributes of radish help to purify the kidneys and, at the same time, reduce the build up of toxic substances in the bloodstream, by this means lessening their intensification in the kidneys. Similarly, the disinfectant attribute of radish guards the kidneys from all types of infections. Hence, consuming radish is excellent for the general health of the kidneys.
- Skin disorders
- Radish contains vitamin C, zinc, phosphorous and some of the B-complex vitamins, which are all known to be good for the health of our skin. The water enclosed by radish assists in sustaining the wetness of the skin. It may be noted that crushed raw radish serves as an excellence cleanser and also a very helpful facial pack. The disinfectant attribute of radish facilitates in healing skin problems, including eruption of rashes, drying up of the skin, cracks and also in rejuvenating the skin.
- Radish possesses detoxifying as well as anti-carcinogenic (anti-cancerous) properties and these makes this root vegetable valuable in treating leucoderma. In this case, the seeds of radish are used instead of the root. The seeds are pulverized into a powdered form and drenched in ginger juice or vinegar or even cow’s urine and subsequently applied directly to the white patches on the skin. In addition, consumption of radish also helps in the treatment of leucoderma.
- Insect bites
- As radish possesses anti-pruritic attributes, it may be employed in the form of an effectual remedy for insect bites and stings of hornets, bees, wasps as well as other insects. The juice of radish also eases the pain as well as swelling in the affected area, while soothing the same.
- Respiratory disorders, asthma and bronchitis
- It may be noted that radish also possesses anti-congestive properties, which means that it has the aptitude to alleviate congestion of the respiratory tract, counting the nose, wind-pipe, throat and lungs owing to cold, allergies, infections or any other reasons. In addition, radish is an excellent disinfectant and also contains rich amounts of vitamins and all these help in protecting the respiratory system from different types of infections.
- Use of radish helps to reduce the body temperature and alleviate inflammation caused by fever. Drinking radish juice blended with black salt is effective in this regard. As radish is an excellent disinfectant, it also combats infections that are responsible for fever and in this way, assisting in the cure of the ailment.
- Liver and gallbladder
- It may be noted that radish is especially helpful for the functioning of the liver as well as the gallbladder. While radish controls the production as well as flow of bilirubin, bile, acids, enzymes, it also helps to get rid of excessive bilirubin from the bloodstream – this is owing to its excellent detoxifying properties. In addition, radish also encloses enzymes such as diastase, myrosinase, esterase and amylase. These enzymes help to protect the liver as well as the gallbladder from various infections and ulcers and, at the same time, comfort them.
Besides the above mentioned health benefits provided by radish, this root vegetable is an excellent appetizer, laxative and a mouth and breath freshener. It also helps to regulate metabolism, enhance blood circulation to all parts of the body and it is an effective remedy for acidity, headaches, queasiness, constipation, sore throat, obesity, gastric disorders, dyspepsia, whooping cough as well as several other health conditions.
Unless you purchase radishes and serve them on the same day, it is advisable to remove the green leafy top and put them in plastic bags, provided they are not packaged already, and preserve them in the fridge. Majority of the radish varieties will be in excellent condition for a maximum period of two weeks when stored in this manner in the refrigerator. If the black radishes can be stored in this manner for a number of months provided they remain dry. Dry black radishes need to be packed in perforated plastic bags and stores in the refrigerator.
To cook radishes, you need to scrub this root vegetable and prune the tip as well as the stem end. As far as the skin of this root vegetable is concerned, you may peel it off or allow it to remain as it is. In fact, the skin of the radish is accountable for most of the tanginess of this root vegetable and, hence, most people who do not like this pungency peel off the skin of the radish, especially the black variety. Nevertheless, the white icicle radish and the red globe radish are not so spicy that their skin should not be essentially peeled off prior to serving.
If the radishes are small, you may serve them chopped or even as a whole vegetable. However, the daikons and the black varieties are generally cut, grated and then served. It may be noted that the most widespread uses of radishes comprise using them as ingredients of any green salad or in the form of a garnish.