Benefits of Daikon or Chinese Radish
What is Daikon Radish?
Daikon Radish refers to Japanese Radish or Chinese Radish. They are both the same except that Japanese Radish is thinner and longer, compared to Chinese Radish. It looks like a white carrot and has a crisp texture with a mild taste compared to normal radish. It is used mainly in Oriental dishes, but can also be eaten raw in a salad.
There are several types of radishes available in the market, but daikon radish is the most popular from the medicinal point of view. Another popular radish for its healing properties is the black radish, which is common in the West. Daikon radish is of course, common in the East.
Besides its medicinal and healing properties, the high nutritional content including Vitamin A, C, E and B-6, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and fiber are some of the reasons why daikon radish or Chinese radish should be part of your diet.
Also Known As
Daikon Radish or Japanese Radish / Chinese Radish is also known as
- lor bark in Cantonese Chinese
- chai tow in Hokkien Chinese
- labanos in Filipino Tagalog
- cu-cai trang in Vietnamese
- mooli in Indian Hindi
- lobak puteh in Malaysian/Indonesian
- mu in Korean
- hua chai tao in Thai
Research Works on the Benefits of Daikon Radish
Several studies were done to confirm its health benefits including its high anti-cancer properties
I did some searching around on the Internet for more information on this vegetable and found some amazing facts.
This article summarized what I had found, especially the research works that documented the healing properties and benefits of eating daikon radish or Chinese radish.
However, please note that this article is not intended as a medical advice, but for general information only. If you are suffering or suspected of suffering from any medical condition, please get immediate medical attention.
Medical & Scientific Terms Explained
- Phytochemicals: Compounds present in plants with antioxidant effects, known for its medical benefits.
- Glucosinolate: Organic sulfur compounds found in certain plants that can detoxify human body of potential carcinogens (a substance that can cause cancer)
- Glucoraphanin: Glucoraphanin is a form of glucosinolate
- MTBGLS: Short for 4-methylthio-3-butenyl glucosinolate or Glucosinolate
- MTBITC: Short for 4-methylthio-3-butenyl isothiocyanate, a cruciferous vegetable cell compound that is believed to have anticancer effects
- Myrosinase: An enzyme that is responsible for the hydrolysis of glucosinolates
- Antimicrobial: An agent that kills microorganisms, or suppressed their growth.
- Antimutagenic: Reduce the rate of mutation of a microorganism
- Anticarcinogenic: Reduces or delaying the occurrence cancer
1. A Promising Anti-Cancer Vegetable
Studies had shown that eating plants with a high content of phytochemicals could help reduce risk in several types of cancer.
Daikon or Japanese and Chinese radish is one of these vegetables that has an enzyme with the potential of an anti-cancer action.
Research on Daikon as Anti-Cancer Plant
In the paper presented by T.J. O'Hare and his team from Queensland Horticulture Institute, they established the fact that daikon has a high content of glucoraphanin, which has the anticancer and anti-inflammatory properties.
This paper, titled 'Glucosinolate Composition & Anti-Cancer Potential of Daikon & Radish Sprout', was presented at the International Symposium on Plants as Food and Medicine (XXVII International Horticultural Congress - IHC2006).
Below is an abstract from the report:
"Daikon and radish sprouts contain high levels of glucoraphenin, a glucosinolate which hydrolyses to form sulphoraphene. Sulphoraphene, like sulphoraphane from broccoli, is a potent inducer of phase 2 detoxification enzymes and consequently has potential anti-cancer action. Unlike broccoli however, daikon and radish do not possess epithiospecifier protein, a protein that inhibits conversion of glucosinolates to isothiocyanates, and consequently they may represent more suitable sources of phytochemicals with anti-cancer potential"
Hence, when one eat plants with glucoraphanin, this compound will release glucosinolates into the system, which will then be transformed into a bioactive compound that has anticancer property.
Do not Peel the Skin
In another study by scientists at Japan's Kyoto Prefecture University's Department of Food Sciences and Nutritional Health, they confirmed the enzyme, Myrosinase, is present in daikon.
Myrosinase will hydrolyze MTBGLS into MTBITC, which has the antimicrobial, antimutagenic, and anticarcinogenic properties.
They also confirmed that Myrosinase was found mainly on the outer skin of daikon. Hence, to enjoy the full benefits of daikon or Chinese radish, do not peel the skin when you prepare it for eating.
2. An Antibacterial & Antiviral Agent
As mentioned earlier, studies done by scientists at Japan's Kyoto Prefecture University's Department of Food Sciences and Nutritional Health, confirmed the presence of Myrosinase in daikon. The study also confirmed myrosinase having antimicrobial and antimutagenic properties.
Abstract from their research report states:
"Myrosinase is a cytosolic plant enzyme present in daikon (Raphanus sativus, Japanese white radish) roots that hydrolyzes 4-methylthio-3-butenyl glucosinolate (MTBGLS) into the natural pungent agent 4-methylthio-3-butenyl isothiocyanate (MTBITC), which possesses antimicrobial, antimutagenic, and anticarcinogenic properties"
Hence, eating daikon will assist you in fighting viral and bacterial infections. This will help if you suffer from skin problems such as eczema and acne. You can also apply daikon juice directly to the affected skin area.
Benefits of Daikon Radish, at a Glance
- Anti-bacterial & anti-viral: good for acne & eczema
- Aids digestion
- Aids Kidney functions
- Remove body toxins
- A good decongestant
- Rich in Vitamin A,C, E & B-6
- Rich in minerals Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium & Iron
- High in fiber
- Low caloric food
- Aid weight loss
- Classified as a balanced alkaline food
- Used in beauty product and personal care
3. Aids Digestion & Kidney Function and Remove Toxins
Studies and laboratory analysis have shown that raw daikon juice is rich in digestive enzymes amylase, diastase and esterase. These enzymes will convert fats, proteins, and complex carbohydrates into compounds that are easy to digest.
This diuretic effect helps kidneys to process waste efficiently and hence improve kidney function. It will also clean the blood and remove the toxin from our body.
Daikon is, therefore, a natural diuretic that will purify the urine.
Now you know why raw daikon radish is part of Japanese meal as it will assist in the digestion of oily and fatty foods such as tempura.
To enjoy these benefits, make sure you eat the sliced or grated daikon immediately as the enzyme properties will lose half of its effect within 30-minutes of preparation.
4. Daikon Radish as a Decongestant
As a decongestant, the enzymes in daikon radish will help decongest the lungs by dissolving the mucus and phlegm, and removing it from our body. It does this by decreasing the inflammation and opening the respiratory tract.
This makes it an effective natural remedy for flu, asthma, and bronchitis.
Myyrosinase that is present in daikon radish will also help fight the viral and bacterial infections.
5. A Balanced Alkaline Food
To stay healthy, our blood pH level must be from 7.35 to 7.45. This is slightly higher than pure distilled water, which is at a neutral 7.
However, we tend to eat more acid-forming foods such as dairy products, meat, chicken, or fish. This may eventually lead to health problems.
To improve this situation, we must eat alkaline foods to balance the pH level in our body.
Daikon radish is one of these alkalizing balanced foods. In fact, foods that are rich in magnesium, calcium and sodium are usually alkaline forming.
As a guide to good balance, we must eat 65% alkaline foods and 35% acidic foods.
6. Daikon Radish for Weight Loss
The digestive enzymes amylase, diastase and esterase in daikon will convert fats, proteins, and complex carbohydrates into compounds that are easy to digest.
This support the traditional Asian belief that eating daikon radish will help with weight loss.
Have You Used Daikon Radish for its Medicinal Properties?
7. A Low-Calorie Energy Food
At only 18 calories for every 3 ounces of daikon radish, make this vegetable a low caloric energy food.
Hence, it is a great vegetable to include in your diet for weight management. On top of that, it is also packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, electrolytes and dietary fiber.
Daikon Radish Side-Effects
Although it is generally safe to eat, women who are pregnant or are breastfeeding should avoid more than the usual amount.
Please eat in moderation as large consumption of radish can lead to digestion tract irritation.
I have read articles that do not recommend radish if you have a gallstone. However, there are also articles that say otherwise.
This is because daikon radish helps to stimulate bile production. This will then break down fats. Hence, if you have gallstone pain, eating radish should be good for you.
Tips when Using Daikon Radish
- Do not peel the skin if you want to enjoy its full benefits
- If eaten raw, consume it within 30-mins of preparation
- If eaten raw, buy and prepare it on same day of purchase
- Use it as soon as possible as daikon do not keep well
- If you need to store it, wrap them individually in plastic wrap before keeping it in the refrigerator
- If it came with the green attached, remove it as soon as possible as it draws nutrients from the root
- Daikons that have maximum nutrients are those that are young and small in size (as its nutrients will be absorbed by the leaves, as daikon gets older)
Buying and Storing Daikon or Chinese Radish
Avoid buying daikon radish that is flaccid and limp. Select only those that are firm and crisp.
If the radish came with the green attached, cut the top as soon as you can as it tends to draw nutrients from the root.
Use it as soon as possible after purchase, as they do not keep well. If you intend to eat it raw, then buy and prepare it on the same day.
If you must keep it for a few days, then clean and dry the daikon before storing. Wrap it individually in cling film before placing it in the refrigerator's vegetable drawer. This will conserve the moisture and crispness.
As mentioned earlier, daikon leaves will draw nutrients from its root. Hence, it is better to eat daikon radish when it is young and small in size. This way, you will get more of its nutritional benefits.
If you want to enjoy the benefits of Daikon radish and do not want to be hassled with going to the market on a daily basis for fresh supply of Chinese radish, then this might solve your problem.
Daikon radish supplement is available in capsule or pill form and you can buy it online.
Vegetables are known to be harder to digest compared to fruits. Hence, if vegetables are juiced, the chances of getting the full nutrients are better.
Therefore, another way to enjoy daikon and to ensure getting all its nutrients is to take daikon in juice form. If the taste is not to your liking, then try mixing it with carrot juice or celery juice.
Try not to mix vegetables with fruits in your juice as both require different enzymes to digest. However, apple is the only exception that can mix well with vegetables.
Different Types of Radishes
Type of Radish
Round Black Spanish Radish
This is a tough charcoal/black skin and grows well in cold climate. It has a dense and dry creamy white flesh with an extremely spicy flavor. Known for its medicinal value
Long Black Spanish Radish
Similar to Round Black Spanish, but longer and shaped like a thick carrot
A weird name for a radish that is grown for its crisp and spicy seedpods rather than its root
Cherry Belle Radish
This is the most common round red radish found in most American and European supermarkets
Easter Egg Radish
A mildly flavored radish that comes in various shades of white, pink, crimson and purple, all in one bunch
French Breakfast Radish
Another mildly flavored & crisp radish that is small and cylindrical shaped
An icicle-shaped radish that comes in white to red color
White and torpedo-shaped Asian variety radish known for its medicinal value
China Rose Radish
Similar in shape, but slightly smaller than daikon and is red colored skin
A good variety for food presentation as it comes in a vibrant magenta veined flesh
Daikin Radish Oil
Besides eating daikon fresh or as supplements, you can also use it in personal care products.
Daikon radish oil is made from its seeds and is colorless and odorless. It is used in many applications especially in personal & beauty care as it does not have the oily feel on the skin.
Being odorless also helps. Hence, it is used in many skin care products.
This natural emollient is capable of reaching the lower skin layers and work from the inside out.
It is also used as a hair serum that helps to detangle and gives shine to your hair.
Enjoy the Benefits of Daikon or Chinese Radish
Daikon has many health benefits and it can help us in so many ways. However, we are inclined to eat them only occasionally. When we do, we eat only one or two at a time. I must confess that I am one of those culprits and have now resorted to taking radish supplement instead.
It is not a good thing to do, but at least, I will enjoy its benefits while on the go.
If you prefer to eat them instead of taking supplements, then it is best eaten raw. Just remember not to peel off the skin as it contains enzymes that give you the most benefits. Alternatively, juice it.
Daikon is easily available in the market, so give it a try.
Try this simple Daikon & Sunflower Sprout Salad. You need mirin (sweet cooking rice wine), rice wine vinegar, dried hot chili, daikon, sunflower sprouts and soy sauce.
For the recipe, visit saveur.com
References and Supporting Information
For more information, please read the following articles that I used as references.
- The American Society for Nutritional Sciences : Phytochemicals from cruciferous plants to protect against cancer
- : Macrobiotic Diet in Cancer
- Comparison of the glucosinolate-myrosinase systems among daikon varieties
- : Daikon Radish for health care
- International Society for Horticultural Science: Glucosinolate Composition & Anti-Cancer Potential of Daikon & Radish Sprout
- Canadian Family Physician: Role of nutrition in preventing cancer
- Daikon Nutritional Fact
- : Daikon Radish Oil
- Radish Side-Effect & Safety
- Comparative study on daikon radish oil vs. silicone for hair shine
- Gallbladder help: Healthy gallbladder and gallstone diet tips
- Alkalizing Foods: List of vegetables and fruits that are alkalizing and acidic
© 2013 Mazlan