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Food as Medicine: Daikon Radish

Radishes often get thought of as a garnish or a pickle, but this vegetable packs a surprising punch when it comes to health benefits, and should not be ignored.


Research has shown that radishes contain:

  • Antioxidants: Research indicates increased consumption of antioxidants (molecules that fight harmful free radicals in the body) can help reduce the risk of heart disease, certain cancers, and even age-related decline.

  • Cruciferous Compounds:  Vegetables like radishes, and closely related broccoli, are known for containing glucosinolates, which break down into isothiocyanates, compounds reported to have anti-cancer, and cancer fighting properties.

  • Hydration:  Radishes are mostly water (around 95%!), making them a refreshing and hydrating snack or addition to a dish.

  • Fiber:  Diets rich in fiber can help to keep you feeling full for longer, promote digestive health, and can even regulate blood sugar levels.

  • Vitamin and Mineral Power: Radishes are a good source of vitamin C, which is essential for immune function and collagen production; they also contain potassium, folate, and vitamin B.

 

If you’re seeking additional inspiration, this beautifully filmed video shows a glimpse into the cultivation of radishes and their many variations of preparation. 

 

Pork Rib and Daikon Radish Soup

Our delicious recipe for a pork and radish soup shines a spotlight on the daikon radish, which when translated from Japanese; "dai" means large and "kon" means root. This particular cultivar of radish is thought to have been grown since at least 500 B.C. Historically, daikon radishes have been grown as a Winter crop, however advances in farming and cultivation technology mean it is now widely available year round.


Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound baby back ribs, cut into bite sized pieces

    • If purchasing your pork at a butcher, you can ask for the rack to be cut in half horizontally and then separate the ribs into smaller pieces once home.

  • 1 medium daikon radish (approximately 1 pound), cut into big chunks

  • 4 cups water

  • 3 slices ginger

  • 1/4 cup goji berries (optional)

  • 1/2 teaspoon Chinese vinegar

    • You can substitute Chinese vinegar with apple cider vinegar in a pinch

  • Salt to taste

  • White pepper to taste

Garnish

  • 2 stalks green onion, chopped

Instructions

  1. Cover the pork ribs with cold water in a large pot and bring to boil over medium-high heat.

  2. Cook for a few minutes until the pork has changed color, drain and discard the water, rinse and set the pork ribs aside.

  3. In a Dutch oven or ceramic pot, combine pork ribs, daikon, ginger and 4 cups of water.

  4. Bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, turn heat down to low, cover and simmer for 35 minutes.

  5. Once the soup has cooked, season with Chinese vinegar, salt, and white pepper to taste. Stir to mix well.

  6. Add goji berries if desired, simmer for another 5 minutes. Remove from heat and sprinkle with chopped green onion prior to serving.

  7. Serve warm to enjoy this nourishing soup and all of its health benefits!


 

References:


Berger RG, Lunkenbein S, Ströhle A, Hahn A. Antioxidants in food: mere myth or magic medicine?. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2012;52(2):162-171. doi:10.1080/10408398.2010.499481


Lee YR, Lee HB, Kim Y, Shin KS, Park HY. Prebiotic and Anti-Adipogenic Effects of Radish Green Polysaccharide. Microorganisms. 2023;11(7):1862. Published 2023 Jul 24. doi:10.3390/microorganisms11071862


Yamaguchi Y, Sugiki M, Shimizu M, Ogawa K, Kumagai H. Comparative analysis of isothiocyanates in eight cruciferous vegetables and evaluation of the hepatoprotective effects of 4-(methylsulfinyl)-3-butenyl isothiocyanate (sulforaphene) from daikon radish (Raphanus sativus L.) sprouts. Food Funct. Published online April 10, 2024. doi:10.1039/d4fo00133h


Wu X, Zhou QH, Xu K. Are isothiocyanates potential anti-cancer drugs?. Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2009;30(5):501-512. doi:10.1038/aps.2009.50

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