As anyone who’s seen a well-styled crudites platter on the ‘gram can attest: radishes are quite the trendy veggie. There are a ton of different varieties (35 to be exact), they have a delightfully peppery bite to them, and they’re totally photo-worthy.
But did you know they’re also a bonafide superfood?
That’s right, these adorable little orbs are more than just a garnish — they’re absolutely packed with nutrition in ways you never imagined. Which means they need a featured spot on your next grocery list (and the ones after that).
Let’s take a look at why you need more radishes in your life.
1. They’re Nutrient Dense
Radishes are simply lousy with vitamins and minerals, including high levels of B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.
They’re cruciferous veggies (in the same family as broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts), which means they contain glucosinolates, which pack an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory punch.
On top of that, their bright red skin contains anthrocyanins, which add even more antioxidant and anti-inflammatory goodness to the party.
They’re also low calorie, low carb, low sugar, and high fiber — making them ideal for just about anyone’s diet.
2. They’re Immune Boosters
At a time when keeping our immune systems running smoothly is more important than ever, radishes are a tasty little ally.
“The vitamin C and B vitamins in radishes help to boost your immune system by promoting the production of white blood cells,” says Megan Byrd, R.D. “They also boost the ability of your white blood cells to do their jobs.”
B vitamins also help enzymes build new organic molecules, which are the basic components of all cells. This means the vitamins can actually help to create new immune cells, which carry out the all-important functions of our immune systems.
3. They Could Reduce Cancer Risk
Allow vitamin C to be the third component packing in the antioxidants in radishes. And antioxidants fight against free-radicals, which are harmful molecules that can cause damage to cells and make them more prone to diseases like cancer.
And when you eat a radish, the glucosinolates are broken down into compounds called isothiocyanates, which studies have shown can hinder the development in cancer in mice and rats, and even kill breast cancer and lung cancer cells.
4. They Keep Things Moving
Radishes are a diuretic, which means they are excellent for urinary tract and renal health. They regulate liver and gallbladder functions. And their high fiber content means they support healthy digestion, keeping constipation at bay.
It should be noted, however, that if you suffer from IBS or another gastrointestinal issue, all cruciferous vegetables can cause some stomach upset.
5. They’re Heart — and Blood — Healthy
Because of their high levels of antioxidants, combined with calcium and potassium, radishes can aid in lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease.
They also detoxify the blood, increase red blood cells, and improve blood flow.
6. Most Importantly, They’re Delicious
If you’ve never felt the desire to try what’s always seemed like a glorified garnish, let me assure you radishes are delicious and quite versatile.
We’ve talked about using them for crudités already. They’re a lovely addition to a platter and can be dipped in hummus, vinaigrette, or any other dip you might have on hand. You could also go a bit French with it and eat them halved with some dabs of high-quality butter and flaky sea salt.
And a Mexican restaurant I visited in Boulder changed my life when they served them thinly sliced with guacamole. It’s become my new go-to snack. All that superfood goodness plus avocado? Yes, please.
They’re also lovely pickled, though store-bought pickles usually have added sugar, so you might want to make them at home.
You can also cook radishes in a variety of ways. Roast them with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. Saute them in butter until brown and crispy. I’ve even added them to soups that call for baby or new potatoes. If you’re on a low-glycemic diet, they’re a great potato substitute. Obviously, the texture isn’t an exact match, but if you crisp them up they’re sweet and delicious.
So next time you’re at the store, make a beeline for those lovely little red gems in the produce aisle. If you can, opt for whole radishes, greens and all (they’re edible too, and pack in even more antioxidants!). But you can often find them pre-trimmed or even sliced, which is super convenient.
Either way, you’ll want to keep your fridge stocked with them from now on.