Radish (Raphanus sativus) is a member of the Brassicaceae (Mustard) Family and originated from western Asia. The genus name Raphanus is derived from Greek, meaning, "easily raised." The word radish comes from the Latin radix, meaning "root".
Radishes aid in the digestion of starches, due in part, to the presence of an enzyme called diastase. In Europe it is common to include radishes with bread and cereals. In Japanese folk medicine a drink is made of carrots and daikon radish to reduce and eliminate deposits of hardened fats in the body. Radishes are used as a remedy against gall and kidney stones. Radishes cleanse the liver and prevent constipation. Their high sulphur content makes it part of a cancer preventative program. Radishes help clear congested sinuses, remedies laryngitis, sore throat, clear mucus and prevent viral infections such as colds and flu. Minimize the use of radish in cases of excess digestive heat or inflammation such as gastritis and ulcers.
Considered a beautifying food and especially beneficial for the hair, nails, skin, teeth and gums. Radish juice has been applied topically as an underarm deodorant, to heal bruises, insect bites, frostbite and minor burns.
Radish is neutral in temperature with the potential to be warm. They taste hot initially, and then leave a feeling of coolness. The flavor is pungent and sweet. Radish is considered diuretic, expectorant (clears mucus from the lungs) and stimulant. Radishes are high in vitamin B1, C, E, iron, potassium and silicon. They also contain raphanin, which helps balance the thyroid gland.
Popular varieties include the common Scarlet Globe, Cherry Belle, French Breakfast (elongated white tipped), White Icicle (long shape, mild flavor) and the Japanese Daikon (long and pungent). There is a long black radish (also known as winter radish), recommended in Europe by naturopaths to cleanse the liver and gall bladder.
Look for firm radishes. Those overly large tend to be pithy. Removing the leaves (which can be added to salad) will cause radishes to keep longer). Make radish "flowers" as a garnish." Add sliced or shredded to salads. Use them as an alternative to chips with dips. A small amount of radish can be added to vegetable juices.