Daikon is a winter radish that hails from Southeast and East Asia. The word 'daikon' means 'big root,' which is an apt description of this long white vegetable. Different varieties of the root include those with pale green and bright rose flesh. In America, daikon is most often grown as a fallow crop -- the big roots help prevent dirt compaction and bring nitrogen and other nutrients into the soil. The plant is also packed with health benefits and boasts a mild flavor.
Daikons are well-known for their anti-inflammatory effects. The radishes have high levels of vitamins C and B that can help manage chronic inflammation from conditions such as gout. They may also help ease pain and discomfort from injury. In addition, the anti-inflammatory qualities may help reduce the risk of arthritis and heart disease.
Infections caused by bacteria and viruses can lead to mucus buildup in the lungs. This can obstruct airways and make breathing difficult. Daikon radish has anti-bacterial and anti-viral qualities that can combat these infections, making the root veggie a great addition to the diet during cold and flu season. Also, daikon has enzymes that act as a decongestant, helping dissolve mucus and remove it from the body to improve breathing. This can benefit people with asthma and other respiratory issues.
Fiber is an essential element of digestive health. It helps bulk up and retain water in stools, allowing them to pass through the digestive tract easily. This helps prevent constipation and maintain bowel health. As a fiber-rich food, daikon brings plenty of this essential nutrient to the diet. Daikon also contains enzymes, including protease and amylase, that help break down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats into smaller compounds that are easier to digest. This allows more nutrients to be absorbed into the body.
Daikon can benefit blood and circulation. Firstly, it's high in potassium, a mineral that helps blood vessels relax, thus lowering blood pressure. It also assists the kidneys in removing excess water, another factor in normal blood pressure. Daikon radish is also great at building blood. Copper and iron are two of the essential building blocks of blood, and daikon brings these nutrients into the body. This can help prevent anemia and may also enhance oxygen supply to cells, leading to higher energy levels.
The constriction of blood vessels in the brain causes migraines. The potassium in daikon can help relax these blood vessels, helping relieve migraine pain. Daikon juice is usually recommended for migraine relief, both as a preventative measure and at the onset of symptoms.
Recent research shows daikon has a large amount of glucoraphanin, a phytochemical with anti-cancer properties. Daikons are also good at eliminating the carcinogenic molecules that come from eating smoked foods, an action that can help prevent stomach cancer. The root has many other phytochemicals that reduce the effects of free radicals on the cells, and experts have long recommended a high-fiber diet for preventing bowel cancer.
Daikon, like other cruciferous vegetables, is a good source of calcium, an essential nutrient for bone health. A good supply of calcium can help prevent osteoporosis and slow the aging process. Daikon also has plenty of antioxidants, which fight free radicals, helping prevent wrinkles and improving the appearance of blemishes. Daikon can also help regulate the circulation of blood to the skin. Eating daikon offers these benefits, but you may be able to find oil made from the seeds, which penetrates deep into skin layers and can also detangle hair.
Folate is a B-group vitamin necessary for healthy fetal growth and development and the prevention of congenital disabilities such as spina bifida. Many people feel the natural form of folate is absorbed easier in the body than the supplement form, folic acid. A single daikon root can provide as much as a quarter of the daily recommended intake. Folate is also important for a healthy brain and nervous system. Stress can create compounds that degrade the brain and folate can help break down one such compound. Eating daikon regularly can help you get enough folate and reduce the risk of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
Daikon offers a lot of benefits in few calories. There are only 18 calories in three ounces of the root, and the high fiber content helps people feel full more quickly. The vegetable is a low-carbohydrate option that won't spike blood sugar, which is helpful for people with diabetes and those hoping to lose weight.
To receive the most benefit, leave the skin on, as this is where many of the enzymes reside. If you're looking for the most folate intake, eat the root raw or very lightly cooked -- cooking quickly destroys folate. The root of the daikon plant is often pickled. Raw daikon is eaten in salads or used as a garnish. The vegetable is also regularly added to soups and stews, and in China, it is used to make turnip cake. You can also eat the leaves, seeds and sprouts.
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