Smart Fuel: Radishes

Love radishes? Turns out you’re not alone. In fact, radishes were once so prized in Greece that they were immortalized in gold!

Although we certainly appreciate the radish’s beauty – often attacking them with a few skillfully placed knife slices to create a beautiful rose garnish for dress-to-impress dishes – this cruciferous vegetable is held in higher esteem today for its health benefits.

Specifically, radishes are an excellent source of vitamin C, packing about 30% of the recommended daily allowance per one cup serving. In addition to shoring up the immune system, vitamin C has been found to reduce asthma symptoms among pediatric patients as well as a decrease susceptibility to bruising and other forms of inflammation. Other beneficial nutrients found in radishes include potassium, which can reduce the risk of kidney stones, folate and magnesium. Finally, radishes contain a number of sulfur-based chemicals that increase the flow of bile, helping to improve digestion and maintain a healthy gallbladder and liver.

Radishes – which are available year-round, but peak between June and September – are available in a number of varieties, with colors ranging from purple to white and varying in taste from mild to downright peppery – a taste that you can blame on its ties to the mustard plant. However, in the U.S. we are most familiar with the red-skinned variety, which is comparable in appearance to a cherry tomato with a tuft of green leaves (which are also edible – and actually pack six times the amount of vitamin C as the bulb!).

To select a radish, look for firm, compact bulbs with an unblemished exterior and bright, healthy looking leaves. To use, wash and trim radishes and then soak in ice water for an hour or two to soften slightly. The radishes can then be sliced and added to salads, roasted whole for inclusion in casseroles or stir-fry, or even used to spice up a simple salsa!

gonemissing Flickr Photo (CC)

Further Reading:

More Smart Fuel

Almost Vegetarian: Radishes and Old Recipes

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