Week 8: Radishes
Radishes have been cultivated for thousands of years. The many different varieties of radishes all belong to the same family, Brassica. There is tremendous diversity of size, shape and color which represents the vast area of Europe and Asia where they are native.
Radishes are available all year round in California. Broadly speaking, they can be categorized into different groups based upon the seasons they are grown in and the variety of their shapes, lengths, colors and sizes. The skin color ranges from white through pink, red, purple, yellow and green to black but the flesh is usually white.
Radishes can be planted in the early spring. They mature in three to four weeks, one of the fastest sprouters in the garden when planted from seed. Once mature they should be picked and eaten immediately. If kept in the ground too long, they get woody and extremely spicy.
Radishes are an excellent source of vitamin C. They are a good source of fiber, folic acid and potassium. They also contain vitamin B6, riboflavin, magnesium, copper and calcium.
Cancer prevention- Due to the presence of vitamin C and isothiocyanate antioxidants, radishes have been shown to be effective against prostate, colon, breast, ovarian and other cancers.
Diabetes, heart disease, diverticulitis prevention- This is due to the presence of fiber in radishes.
Helpful for bile flow- The radish root may stimulate digestive juices and bile flow which is helpful for jaundice. It is also a good detoxifier.
Selection and Storage:
When picking table radishes at the market, choose those with fresh, bright green tops. The radishes should have a smooth skin and feel firm. Avoid those that are spongy. The thin roots at the bottom of the radishes should look healthy and not withered.
Before refrigerating radishes, wash them, remove greens from the top, and place in plastic baggies with a paper towel at the bottom. This optimizes moisture content and helps keep them fresh for about a week.
Prior to serving table radishes, soak them in cold water and then drain thoroughly. They can be eaten raw, cooked or pickled.
People with thyroid dysfunction: Radishes may be referred to as a “goitrogen”, certain plant-derived compounds (also found in cruciferous vegetables- cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, rutabagas, turnips) which may cause swelling of the thyroid gland. This may lead to the thyroid not being able to produce as many of the hormones that are needed for regulating metabolism. Consumption of these vegetables should be reduced but not eliminated in individuals with thyroid dysfunction. If you have normal thyroid function and consume adequate amounts of iodine, these vegetables will have no effect on your thyroid and may be eaten liberally.