Although prized in the kitchen, the radish is a vegetable whose health benefits have long gone unrecognised. Very few people appreciate the naturopathic value of this ancient crop. But that’s about to change.
The radish originated in the Near East and is one of the oldest of all cultivated plants. The Egyptians already fortified themselves with this vegetable, and it has always enjoyed great popularity in the Far East as well. This surely can be attributed to its unmistakable spiciness, which is ideal for Asian dishes. The per capita consumption there is about 30 kilograms, whereas in Switzerland only 250 grams per year are consumed. The radish is a cruciferous plant from the cabbage family that is characterised by a spherical or spindle-shaped root with a white, red, pink or black skin. Its peppery taste is due to the essential mustard oils it contains.
It is partly these essential mustard oils that make the radish so interesting as a medicinal plant. They are said to have an appetizing and antibacterial effect, while also stimulating the metabolism. They promote the production of bile in the gall bladder, which fires up fat burning. This has the welcome side effect of alleviating digestive complaints such as flatulence or bloating. The antibacterial effect of mustard oils also benefits the lungs. In folk medicine, the radish is used as an expectorant and spasmolytic agent to relieve coughing.
Other known nutrients in radishes are potassium, magnesium, phosphorus and calcium. Potassium is a mineral that is required for the transmission of information from cell to cell. Only then can the body effectively control our internal organs, the heart, nervous system, skeletal muscles, intestines and also the skin so they can fulfil their respective functions. Calcium, together with phosphorus, is the most important building block for bones and teeth. And magnesium is the fourth most abundant mineral in the body and is involved in over 300 metabolic processes. Among other things, it ensures a balanced energy metabolism as well as proper functioning of the muscles and nerves.
So it’s high time radishes started being celebrated in Europe both as a delicious vegetable and for their valuable nutrients.