Daikon radish is a staple in Asian cuisine. It's a versatile vegetable that can be prepared in many different ways. It may also be beneficial for your health.
What Is Daikon?
Daikon is a variety of radish that’s native to Japan and China. It’s also known as Japanese radish, Chinese turnip, and mullang.
Daikon means “big root” in Japanese. It’s a vegetable that belongs to the mustard family.
Daikon radish has a long taproot, like a huge carrot. The white taproot can grow from 12 to 20 inches long and 2 to 4 inches in diameter.
Daikon can be round or cylindrical in shape. Most varieties are white, but some have green flesh or may be green on top and white below.
Daikon is grown as food, and also as a fall and winter cover crop. Cover crops help farmers control soil erosion and improve the health of the soil. The large taproot of the daikon can help break up compacted soil. It also rots quickly, softening the soil and releasing beneficial nutrients and nitrogen.
There are many different varieties of daikon. These include:
- Sakurajima Mammoth
What Is Daikon Flavor Like?
Daikon radish has a mild flavor and is less spicy than other varieties of radish. Cooked daikon tastes sweet and has a tender texture.
Daikon Radish Nutrition
Daikon radishes are very low in calories and carbs but rich in many different nutrients, such as:
- Vitamin C
A 7-inch-long daikon radish, weighing about 338 grams, contains the following nutrients:
- Calories: 61
- Protein: 2 grams
- Carbohydrates: 14 grams
- Dietary fiber: 5 grams
- Calcium: 91 milligrams
- Magnesium: 54 milligrams
- Potassium: 767 milligrams
- Folate: 95 micrograms
- Vitamin C: 75 milligrams
Packed with all these nutrients, daikon radish is a great vegetable to add to your diet.
Cruciferous vegetables like daikon, broccoli, and kale are said to interfere with thyroid health. But experts say that this only happens if you eat an excessive amount of these vegetables.
What Health Benefits Are in Daikon?
There are many daikon health benefits. In traditional medicine, radish extracts have been used to treat:
- Heart disorders
- Liver inflammation
- Stomach problems
- Urinary infections
Most of the scientific studies on daikon radish have been test-tube or lab studies. It’s not yet clear how these results apply to people.
Rich in plant compounds
Radishes contain 609 plant compounds. Some of these bioactive compounds have been found to have health benefits, such as:
- Antioxidant activity
- Anticancer properties
- Anti-inflammatory properties
- Antimicrobial properties
- Antibacterial properties
Researchers say that the highest amount of nutrients and bioactive compounds are found in the radish leaves and sprouts.
A study found that heirloom varieties of daikon have more plant enzymes with antimicrobial and anticarcinogenic properties than regular daikon. But heirloom varieties are not easy to find these days. For example, about 90 percent of all daikon produced in Japan is of the hybrid variety called aokubi daikon. Most of the 100 Japanese daikon varieties are now almost extinct.
These plant enzymes are often found in daikon skin, which is usually removed before cooking. To get more health benefits from daikon, researchers recommend that you don't peel daikon.
Some compounds in daikon may help protect your blood vessels. In a study, participants ate a Japanese variety of daikon called sakurajima daikon for 10 days. Participants had higher concentrations of the plant hormone trigonelline and significantly improved flow-mediated dilation. This is a measurement of the blood flow in the arteries and also the risk of cardiovascular disease.
May protect against chronic diseases
Radish is a cruciferous vegetable. Some studies have shown that eating more cruciferous vegetables may help protect against some cancers, such as lung cancer.
A study of over 100,000 adults in China found that eating more cruciferous vegetables may help to protect against heart disease and help you to live a longer life.
May help with weight loss
Radishes have a high water content and so are very filling. This means eating radishes can satisfy your hunger with few calories. This can help with weight loss.
Daikon is high in dietary fiber. It takes longer to eat high-fiber foods, so you'll probably eat less but stay full for longer. High-fiber foods also help with bowel health and improve blood sugar levels.
How To Store Daikon
You may find daikon year-round in some supermarkets, Asian markets, and some farmers markets. Look for roots that are firm and leaves that are bright green. The roots shouldn't give when squeezed.
Daikon will keep for up to two weeks in the fridge. Remove the radish greens and store them separately. Store the radish in a plastic bag or wrap it in a damp towel.
You can also freeze daikon. Cut the radish into small pieces. Blanch in boiling water for about three minutes. Let cool, then place in a freezer-safe container in your freezer.
How To Cook Daikon
All parts of daikon can be eaten — not just the root, but also the greens and sprouts. You can eat daikon raw, pickled, or cooked. A daikon that is very large may be tastier when cooked.
You don’t have to peel daikon radishes. Just wash them and give them a good scrub with a vegetable brush.
Daikon is a common ingredient in many Asian dishes. It’s often shredded thinly and used as a garnish for sushi. In Chinese cooking, it’s often used in soups, stews, and braised dishes. In Vietnamese cooking, it’s sometimes used raw in salads or pickled.
Try adding daikon to your diet in a few ways:
- Peel daikon into long thin ribbons and use in place of traditional noodles.
- Chop up daikon and carrots to make a soup. Add some slices of ginger and cook until vegetables are soft.
- Make daikon pickles.
- Slice up daikon and add to salads or slaws.
- Grate daikon and add to dipping sauces.
- Make kimchi with daikon.
- Add daikon to stir-fries and stews.
Don’t toss the radish greens. You can use them in a variety of ways too:
- Stir-fry them.
- Add them to soups.
- Blend them into pesto.