With its unique appearance and interesting flavor, only the most adventurous eaters are likely to have tried — let alone heard of — the daikon radish. Often considered a staple in many Asian cuisines, the daikon is frequently featured in salads, side dishes, soups and stir-fries.
In addition to being incredibly versatile and nutritious, it can also bring a pop of flavor and texture to your favorite recipes. Plus, daikon radish nutrition is brimming with important nutrients and has been linked to several impressive health benefits, ranging from better blood sugar control to increased weight loss and beyond.
What Is Daikon Radish?
The daikon radish is a type of radish that is native to certain parts of Asia, including China and Japan. Also known as the white radish, Japanese radish, Chinese radish and luobo, the daikon is a cruciferous vegetable related to other veggies, such as broccoli, cabbage and kale.
It resembles a large, white carrot, has a crispy texture, and is often eaten raw, cooked or pickled. The main difference between the daikon vs. radish is in terms of flavor — while most radish varieties have a peppery, pungent flavor, the daikon radish is a bit more mild.
There are several different varieties of daikon radish, each of which has slight variations in taste, texture and appearance.
Here are a few of the most common types:
- Watermelon Radish
- Japanese Minowase
- Miyashige White
- Shunkyo Radish
- Korean Radish
The daikon nutrition profile is low in calories but high in important micronutrients like vitamin C, copper and folate. It also contains a good amount of fiber, packing nearly two grams into each serving.
One cup of sliced daikon contains the following nutrients:
- 21 calories
- 5 grams carbohydrates
- 0.7 grams protein
- 0.1 grams fat
- 2 grams fiber
- 25.5 milligrams vitamin C (28 percent DV)
- 0.1 milligrams copper (15 percent DV)
- 32.5 micrograms folate (8 percent DV)
- 263 milligrams potassium (6 percent DV)
- 18.6 milligrams magnesium (4 percent DV)
- 0.05 milligrams vitamin B6 (3 percent DV)
- 0.5 milligrams iron (3 percent DV)
- 0.2 milligrams pantothenic acid (3 percent DV)
In addition to the nutrients listed above, the daikon also contains a small amount of calcium, manganese, riboflavin and thiamine.
1. High in Antioxidants
Daikon radishes are a great source of antioxidants, which are important compounds that help neutralize harmful free radicals to prevent oxidative damage to the cells. In particular, daikon radishes are rich in quercetin and ferulic acid, two polyphenols that have been linked to a long list of health benefits.
Consuming a diet filled with high antioxidant foods could potentially help reduce the risk of many chronic conditions. One study out of the Netherlands even found that increased intake of cruciferous veggies could be associated with a lower risk of several types of cancer, including lung, stomach, colon and rectal cancer.
2. Supports Weight Loss
Daikon radishes are high in fiber and low in calories, making them a great addition to a healthy weight loss diet. Fiber moves slowly through the digestive tract, keeping you feeling fuller for longer to combat cravings and increase weight loss.
In fact, according to a 2009 study published in Journal of Nutrition, increasing total fiber intake was tied to a decreased risk of weight gain and fat gain in women.
Not only that, but upping your intake of cruciferous vegetables could also help boost weight loss. Interestingly enough, one study out of Boston reported that each daily serving of cruciferous veggies was linked to 0.68 pounds of weight loss over a two-year period.
3. Balances Blood Sugar
Adding daikon to your diet is an easy way to help stabilize blood sugar levels. This is due to the effects of fiber, which helps slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream to prevent spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels.
In addition to maintaining better blood sugar control, some research suggests that cruciferous vegetables like the daikon radish could also aid in the prevention of type 2 diabetes as well. A 2016 review analyzed the diets of over 306,000 people and found that regular consumption of cruciferous veggies was tied to a significantly lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
4. Promotes Immune Health
Daikon radishes are excellent vitamin C foods. This nutrient is an essential water-soluble vitamin that plays a key role in immune function.
Studies show that getting enough vitamin C in your diet can reduce symptoms and shorten the duration of many respiratory conditions, including the common cold.
Like other cruciferous vegetables, daikon radishes are also loaded with antioxidants, which help fight free radicals and protect against chronic disease. Antioxidants can also decrease inflammation and prevent damage to the immune cells, increasing the body’s resistance to illness and infection.
5. Enhances Regularity
Thanks to its fiber content, adding daikon to your daily diet can help enhance digestive health and promote regularity. This is because fiber travels through the gastrointestinal tract, adding bulk to the stool to ease its passage through the body.
A 2012 review in World Journal of Gastroenterology concluded that dietary fiber can effectively increase stool frequency in those with constipation.
What’s more, fiber can also improve several other aspects of digestive health as well. In particular, fiber has been shown to aid in the treatment and prevention of conditions like hemorrhoids, stomach ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and diverticulitis.
How to Cook With It
Wondering where to buy daikon radish? If you’re having difficulty finding it at your nearest grocery store, you may want to check your local farmers market or shop around at some Asian specialty stores.
Look for a vegetable that is plump and heavy for its size with firm, smooth skin. If purchasing a radish with leaves, be sure to separate the leaves from the root to prolong its shelf life.
There are plenty of daikon radish recipe options available to start incorporating this incredible ingredient into your weekly menu.
Fresh daikon can be grated or sliced and added to salads and side dishes. Daikon oroshi, for example, is a common dish in Japanese cuisine that is made of grated radish, which is typically served alongside grilled fish.
It can also be sprinkled into soups, stews and stir-fries to bring a delicious crunch to your favorite recipes. Alternatively, try pickling it for a simple snack or accompaniment for your main course.
The leaves can also be saved and used to brighten up stir-fries, soups and stews. Meanwhile, daikon radish seeds are often sprouted and used as a garnish for dishes like salad or sushi rolls.
If you’re feeling creative, you can also use the root as a daikon substitute and swap it in for white radishes, turnips, jicama or horseradish in your daily dishes. Although it may change the taste and texture a bit, it can add a zing of flavor and nutrients to help mix up your menu.
Need some inspiration for how to use this versatile veggie? Here are a few delicious daikon recipes to help get you started:
Risks and Side Effects
Although uncommon, daikon radishes could cause negative side effects in some people, including food allergy symptoms like hives, itching and digestive distress. If you experience any adverse symptoms after consumption, discontinue use immediately and consult with your doctor.
If you have a history of thyroid issues, keep in mind that cruciferous vegetables are goitrogenic, which means that they can interfere with the production of thyroid hormones. Although most studies suggest that it would take a very large amount of cruciferous vegetables to contribute to hypothyroidism, it’s best to keep your consumption in moderation if you have any concerns.
Cooking daikon rather than eating it raw can also help reduce the risk of adverse effects on thyroid health.
Due to the fiber content of the daikon radish, it could also cause digestive issues like gas, bloating and stomach pain if consumed in high amounts. To minimize symptoms, be sure to increase fiber intake gradually and drink plenty of water when consuming high-fiber foods.
- The daikon is a type of radish and cruciferous vegetable that resembles a long, white carrot and has a crisp texture and mild yet peppery flavor.
- The daikon nutrition profile is packed with important nutrients, including fiber, vitamin C, copper and folate.
- Potential daikon benefits include improved blood sugar control, increased weight loss, enhanced immune function and improved regularity.
- This root vegetable is highly versatile and can be enjoyed raw, cooked or pickled and added to a variety of different dishes.