6 nutritious benefits of radishes

Radishes are often overlooked at the supermarket. But if you're looking to switch up your vegetable game, you might want to add these pinkish-red orbs to your cart. Known for their peppery flavour and crunchy texture, radishes are packed with antioxidants, fiber, and essential vitamins and minerals. Plus, they're a type of cruciferous vegetable, meaning they're related to popular produce like cauliflower and kale. Cruciferous veggies, in general, are teeming with health benefits, so you can be sure radishes won't disappoint in flavour or nutrition. (Bonus: Radishes are some of the easiest vegetables to grow. If you're a gardening newbie, try adding radish seeds to your planting rotation.) Ahead, learn what registered dietitians have to say about important radish nutrition and health benefits.

Radishes are high in antioxidants

Antioxidants are substances that neutralise, or "turn off," harmful molecules called free radicals. (In high amounts, free radicals cause cell damage and oxidative stress, leading to chronic conditions like cancer or heart disease.) Examples of radish antioxidants include glucosinolates, or sulfur-containing compounds mainly found in cruciferous veggies. They fight oxidative stress and protect cells by reducing free radical damage. Radishes also contain antioxidants like vitamin C, folate, and anthocyanins, AKA plant compounds that give radishes their reddish hue.

Radishes can control blood sugar and manage diabetes

Your body stabilises blood sugar by producing insulin, a hormone that moves glucose from the blood and into your cells. As it turns out, the anthocyanins in radishes can lend a hand. Anthocyanins improve insulin sensitivity, or how well your cells respond to insulin and take up glucose. Radishes also contain catechin, a compound that triggers insulin secretion. Additionally, radishes provide fiber, which can help slow down digestion of sugar from other food. This prevents spikes in blood sugar that, over time, can contribute to poor insulin sensitivity and diabetes.

Radishes have essential nutrients, like vitamin C, for immune function

Looking for tasty new ways to eat more vitamin C? Add radishes to your shopping list. Check out these radish nutrition facts: One cup of raw radishes boasts 17 milligrams of the vitamin C. That's about 20 per cent of the daily recommended intake of 90 milligrams and 75 milligrams for men and women, respectively. Vitamin C supports immune function by enhancing the activity of phagocytes, or cells that eat harmful germs. This key vitamin is also an antioxidant, as mentioned above, meaning it can protect cells from free radical damage.

Radishes contain selenium, another immune-boosting nutrient. Selenium keeps you healthy by activating T and B cells, AKA white blood cells involved in your body's immune response.

They're full of fibre and great for digestive health

Radishes offer a combo of soluble and insoluble fibre. This is great news for your GI tract, as both types of fibre can make it easier to go number two. Soluble fiber – which dissolves in water – can ease diarrhea by reducing excess fluid. On the flipside, insoluble fibre does not dissolve in water. This type of fibre bulks up the stool, making it useful for relieving constipation and promoting regular bowel movements.

Radishes help protect your heart

As mentioned above, oxidative stress can contribute to the development of heart disease. But thanks to the antioxidant anthocyanins in radishes, eating this crunchy veggie may reduce your risk. Anthocyanins protect your heart by preventing tissue damage caused by oxidative stress. Anthocyanins also can also reduce high blood pressure, a major risk factor of heart disease. Here's how: Anthocyanins decrease inflammation in the arteries, keeping atherosclerosis at bay. Atherosclerosis is when plaque builds up in your arteries, restricting blood flow to and from your heart.

As for the glucosinolates in radishes? They offer similar heart-healthy benefits. In the body, glucosinolates break down into compounds called isothiocyanates. Isothiocyanates have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, further preventing atherosclerosis and protecting your heart.

Radishes provide key minerals like calcium, iron, and potassium

Radish nutrition also provides small amounts of minerals like calcium, iron, and magnesium. They also contain some potassium, a nutrient that adds to the heart-healthy benefits of radishes mentioned above. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, eating potassium-rich foods can decrease high blood pressure. One cup of sliced raw radishes contains 268 milligrams, which can help you reach the recommended daily intake of 3,400 milligrams and 2,600 milligrams for men and women, respectively.