By: AMANDA HIRSCH & TORY DAVIS, Clean Plates Authors (adapted)
Radishes — those small but mighty, peppery members of the mustard family — have been eaten across the globe since prehistoric times. Rumors of radishes depicted on Egyptian pyramids can’t be confirmed, despite ancient Greek tales about the vital role the veggie played in the builders’ diets, but one thing is certain: Radishes of all shapes, sizes and colors continue to be part of a healthy diet for people around the world.
Packed with vitamin C, “radishes are detoxifying,” says Clean Plates founder and nutritional consultant, Jared Koch. A root vegetable that grows year-round in a range of climates, the crunchy, sharp radish also has benefits for thyroid health and is good for clearing up congestion, Koch says.
With fun names like “Cherry Belle” and “Fuego,” radish varieties range from the reddish bulbs currently on display in farmers markets to the horseradish-hot, Egyptian black radishes, to the large, white, carrot-shaped daikon radishes used in Japanese cuisine, Korean kimchi, Chinese pudding and Indian pickles. (Dr. Oz calls daikon radish one of the 5 cheapest health foods for under $1).
Buy fresh, local radishes when you can, ideally with their piquant, bright green leaves attached. Look for smooth, firm roots and store them in the refrigerator loosely wrapped in plastic.
Here are a couple of ideas that deliver the nutritional benefits of common red radishes in a range of tasty packages:
Pair Radish with Avocado:
The moment you get home from the farmer’s market, slice up some radishes, douse them in lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and pair them with avocado. The crunch of the radish contrasts nicely with the buttery avocado, which boosts its own nutritional superpowers — including 60% more potassium than a banana!
Salads and Salsas:
Make a splash at summer picnics by replacing potato or macaroni salad with a salad that combines radishes, zucchini and shaved fennel with a whole grain like farro or quinoa.
Also perfect for cookouts: Eat Well’s colorful Mango-Radish Salsa, which pops thanks to the contrasting spicy-sweet-sharp flavors of radish, mango and lime.