Today I was working in our beautiful organic garden and as we harvested our delicious multi-colored radishes, I thought, "Wow, what an understated vegetable, why don't more people enjoy them? And more so, why are they never mentioned for how good they are for our health?" This unassuming root vegetable actually packs more health benefits than you may suspect, like, the simple fact that they stimulate the flow of bile in our system which makes them a useful tool for cleansing fat, blood and the liver. Radishes have also been used to break up gall stones and kidney stones.
Radishes contain magnesium, manganese, calcium, vitamin B6, folate, riboflavin and a good amount of copper. Radishes are excellent for blood pressure, as they high in potassium, which supports the body in keeping the blood pressure at safe levels. Since potassium is a diuretic, it flushes stored water from the body and the National Institute of Health DASH Diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) recommends increasing potassium, calcium and magnesium to keep blood pressure in balance.
Radishes are also a very good source of vitamin C – 25% of the daily recommended value – helping to rebuild tissues and blood vessels, and keeping bones and teeth strong. Vitamin C fights disease and rescues the cells from an onslaught of destructive free radicals. This is done through electrolytes and natural antioxidant action of this one vitamin, increasing immunity of the body, and helping to fight against all kinds of diseases, including cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
Radishes can also have effects on relieving congestion, and preventing respiratory problems such as asthma or bronchitis. They have antibacterial, antifungal, and detoxifying properties, and contain compounds that soothe rashes, dryness, and other skin disorders.
Most people eat radishes raw, but from an Ayurvedic prospective it is best to eat them freshly cooked. Radishes can provoke the pitta in the digestive tract. This is good for both Vata and Kapha, as it clears food stagnation and has a laxative effect due to its diuretic nature, all while having a cooling effect so the vegetable can be eaten by Pitta in moderation. If you are a Vata individual you may find a raw radish to be difficult to digest and they can create gas sotry to avoid eating them raw, but don't leave them out of your diet, as they are Vata balancing.
White Radish With Mung Dal & Radish Greens Recipe
For the seasoning
2 tbsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
2 to 3 dry red chilies, broken into bits
1/2 tsp asafetida
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
radish greens cut from the radishes, finely chopped
500 gm or 2 white or pink radishes or, finely chopped
100 gm (1/2 cup) mung dal
1 tsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp salt or to taste
3 to 4 tbsp grated fresh coconut (you can also use frozen)
In a small or medium sized sauce pan pour in enough water, add in the mung dal, bring to a boil over a medium flame and cook until half cooked, about 12 to 15 minutes.
In a wok or kadhai, heat the oil over a medium flame. Reduce the flame before the oil smokes and put in the mustard and cumin seeds. When they pop, add the chilies, asafetida, turmeric and radish greens. Stir fry for 30 seconds.
Add the finely chopped radish, cover and cook on a medium low flame, stirring in between until the radishes are half cooked, about 7 to 8 minutes. Put in the mung dal, mix well, cover and cook until the radishes are fully cooked, about 8 to 10 minutes.
Stir in the coconut, give it a good mix and switch off the flame. Serve hot with rotis or rice.
*Note that raw brassicas contain chemicals that can block the thyroid function called goitrogens. These chemicals are easily inactivated by steaming or cooking, so always ensure you eat this nutrient packed foods freshly cooked.
The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of Ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease.