What Is Daikon Radish, and What Is It Used For?
Radish (Raphanus sativus) is a cruciferous vegetable that originated in Asia and Europe (1Trusted Source).
There are many different types, which vary in appearance, color, and flavor. Daikon radishes are popularly used in Asian and Indian cooking and known for their potent medicinal properties.
This article reviews daikon radish, including its nutrition, benefits, and culinary uses.
What is Daikon?
It's cultivated around the world as a food for people and livestock, as well as for its seed oil, which is used in the cosmetic industry. Farmers also plant it as a cover crop to improve soil health and increase crop yield (3Trusted Source).
Daikon is considered a winter radish, which is slower growing and larger than spring radishes. Winter radishes are sown in mid to late summer and harvested during cooler weather (4).
Types of Daikon
Daikon radishes have a crispy texture and resemble large carrots. Their flavor is milder than that of other radish varieties and described as slightly sweet yet slightly spicy.
Though most commonly white with leafy green tops, daikon radishes come in a variety of hues, including red, green, and purple. They grow in three shapes — cylindrical, oblong, and spherical (1Trusted Source).
Here are some interesting varieties of daikon:
- Miyashige White. This daikon is white and has a cylindrical root that grows 16–18 inches (41–46 cm) long. It has a crisp texture and mild flavor.
- KN-Bravo. KN-Bravo is a beautiful daikon variety that has purple skin and light purple to white flesh. The roots can grow up to 6 inches (15 cm) long and have a slightly sweet flavor.
- Alpine. The Alpine daikon has short roots that grow 5–6 inches (13–15cm) long. This variety is a popular choice to make kimchi — a fermented vegetable dish — and has a sweeter taste than longer daikon varieties.
- Watermelon radish. This daikon variety has pale, greenish skin, yet reveals a bright pink flesh when cut open. It's spherical and slightly sweet and peppery.
- Japanese Minowase. Minowase daikon is amongst the largest varieties, with roots growing up to 24 inches (61 cm) long. They're white and have a sweet flavor and crunchy texture.
- Shunkyo. This cylindrical variety has red skin and white flesh. It grows 4–5 inches (10–12 cm) long and is known for its fiery yet sweet flavor and pink-stemmed leaves.
Daikon radishes are native to Asia but grown around the world. Varieties include Alpine, KN-Bravo, and Shunkyo. They all come with a unique shape, taste, and color.
Daikon is a very-low-calorie vegetable yet has an impressive nutrient profile.
One 7-inch (18-cm) daikon weighing 12 ounces (338 grams) packs the following nutrients (5):
- Calories: 61
- Carbs: 14 grams
- Protein: 2 grams
- Fiber: 5 grams
- Vitamin C: 124% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Folate (B9): 24% of the DV
- Calcium: 9% of the DV
- Magnesium: 14% of the DV
- Potassium: 22% of the DV
- Copper: 19% of the DV
Daikon is an excellent source of various nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, and copper. Still, it's highest in vitamin C and folate.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient that's essential to health and needed for many bodily functions, including immune system function and tissue growth and repair (6Trusted Source).
Plus, it doubles as a powerful antioxidant, protecting your body's cells from oxidative damage (6Trusted Source).
Daikon is also rich in folate, a B vitamin that's involved in cellular growth, red blood cell production, and DNA synthesis (7Trusted Source).
Daikon is low in calories yet high in many nutrients, particularly vitamin C and folate.
Potential Health Benefits
Eating nutrient-dense daikon may benefit your health in many ways.
Rich in Protective Plant Compounds
Daikon contains many plant compounds that may improve health and offer protection against certain diseases.
One test-tube study found that daikon extract contained the polyphenol antioxidants ferulic acid and quercetin, both of which have anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and immune-boosting properties (9Trusted Source, 10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).
Additionally, cruciferous vegetables like daikon offer biologically active compounds called glucosinolates, which break down to form isothiocyanates.
May Promote Weight Loss
Eating low-calorie, high-fiber foods like daikon can help you maintain a healthy weight or lose weight if that's your goal.
Daikon is considered a non-starchy vegetable, meaning it's very low in carbs. Research has demonstrated that eating non-starchy vegetables can promote a healthy body weight.
What's more, daikon is high in fiber, a nutrient that may decrease hunger levels by slowing digestion and increasing fullness, which may help boost weight loss (18Trusted Source).
May Protect Against Chronic Disease
Daikon is a highly nutritious vegetable packed with potent plant compounds, vitamins, minerals, and fiber, all of which work together to protect your body against disease.
Though adding more of any vegetable to your diet can improve your health, eating cruciferous vegetables like daikon may particularly protect against a wide range of conditions.
In fact, cruciferous vegetable intake has been linked to a decreased risk of heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, and neurodegenerative conditions (19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source, 21Trusted Source, 22Trusted Source, 23Trusted Source).
Additionally, some population studies indicate that eating more cruciferous vegetables like daikon may help you live a longer, healthier life (24Trusted Source).
Daikon is a low-calorie, high-fiber vegetable that contains plant compounds that may help protect against conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers.
Daikon can be enjoyed raw, pickled, or cooked. It's an integral ingredient in Asian cooking, though it lends itself to many cuisines.
Here are some interesting ways to add daikon to your diet:
- Grate raw daikon over a salad for a nutritious, crunchy topping.
- Add daikon to stir-fries to kick up the flavor.
- Make Korean cubed radish kimchi (Kkakdugi) using this recipe.
- Use daikon in soups and stews in place of carrots.
- Steam daikon and top it with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper for a low-calorie side dish.
- Mix daikon with cubed potatoes and carrots and roast them.
- Serve raw, sliced daikon alongside other veggies with a tasty dip for a healthy appetizer.
- Make traditional Chinese daikon cakes using this recipe.
- Use a spiralizer to make daikon noodles and toss them in a homemade peanut sauce.
- Add daikon to veggie spring rolls for a crispy texture.
- Incorporate daikon into Asian dishes, such as curries and soups.
Note that all parts of the daikon plant can be eaten, including the leafy green tops, which can be added to sautés and soups.
You can also try daikon sprouts, which are often used in salads and sushi dishes in Asian cuisine.
Use them as you would use more commonly enjoyed sprouts, such as broccoli and alfalfa varieties.
Daikon can be used in many ways and makes an excellent addition to salads, soups, and curries. You can eat all parts of the daikon plant, as well as its sprouts.
The Bottom Line
Daikon radish is a nutritious, low-calorie cruciferous vegetable that may promote your health in various ways.
Eating it may help you maintain a healthy body weight and protect against chronic conditions, such as heart disease and certain cancers.
Daikon is not only an exceptionally healthy vegetable but also incredibly versatile.
Try adding this unique radish to salads, stir-fries, and curries, or simply enjoy it raw as a snack.
Reposted with permission from our media associate Healthline.
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By Bob Jacobs
Hanako, a female Asian elephant, lived in a tiny concrete enclosure at Japan's Inokashira Park Zoo for more than 60 years, often in chains, with no stimulation. In the wild, elephants live in herds, with close family ties. Hanako was solitary for the last decade of her life.
Hanako, an Asian elephant kept at Japan's Inokashira Park Zoo; and Kiska, an orca that lives at Marineland Canada. One image depicts Kiska's damaged teeth. Elephants in Japan (left image), Ontario Captive Animal Watch (right image), CC BY-ND
Affecting Health and Altering Behavior<p>It is easy to observe the overall health and psychological consequences of life in captivity for these animals. Many captive elephants suffer from arthritis, obesity or skin problems. Both <a href="https://doi.org/10.11609/JoTT.o2620.1826-36" target="_blank">elephants</a> and orcas often have severe dental problems. Captive orcas are plagued by <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jveb.2019.05.005" target="_blank">pneumonia, kidney disease, gastrointestinal illnesses and infections</a>.</p><p>Many animals <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2017.09.010" target="_blank">try to cope</a> with captivity by adopting abnormal behaviors. Some develop "<a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.applanim.2017.05.003" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">stereotypies</a>," which are repetitive, purposeless habits such as constantly bobbing their heads, swaying incessantly or chewing on the bars of their cages. Others, especially big cats, pace their enclosures. Elephants rub or break their tusks.</p>
Changing Brain Structure<p>Neuroscientific research indicates that living in an impoverished, stressful captive environment <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jveb.2019.05.005" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">physically damages the brain</a>. These changes have been documented in many <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/cne.903270108" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">species</a>, including rodents, rabbits, cats and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1006/nimg.2001.0917" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">humans</a>.</p><p>Although researchers have directly studied some animal brains, most of what we know comes from observing animal behavior, analyzing stress hormone levels in the blood and applying knowledge gained from a half-century of neuroscience research. Laboratory research also suggests that mammals in a zoo or aquarium have compromised brain function.</p>
This illustration shows differences in the brain's cerebral cortex in animals held in impoverished (captive) and enriched (natural) environments. Impoverishment results in thinning of the cortex, a decreased blood supply, less support for neurons and decreased connectivity among neurons. Arnold B. Scheibel, CC BY-ND<p>Subsisting in confined, barren quarters that lack intellectual stimulation or appropriate social contact seems to <a href="https://doi.org/10.1590/S0001-37652001000200006" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">thin the cerebral cortex</a> – the part of the brain involved in voluntary movement and higher cognitive function, including memory, planning and decision-making.</p><p>There are other consequences. Capillaries shrink, depriving the brain of the oxygen-rich blood it needs to survive. Neurons become smaller, and their dendrites – the branches that form connections with other neurons – become less complex, impairing communication within the brain. As a result, the cortical neurons in captive animals <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/cne.901230110" target="_blank">process information less efficiently</a> than those living in <a href="https://doi.org/10.1002/dev.420020208" target="_blank">enriched, more natural environments</a>.</p>
An actual cortical neuron in a wild African elephant living in its natural habitat compared with a hypothesized cortical neuron from a captive elephant. Bob Jacobs, CC BY-ND<p>Brain health is also affected by living in small quarters that <a href="https://doi.org/10.3233/BPL-160040" target="_blank">don't allow for needed exercise</a>. Physical activity increases the flow of blood to the brain, which requires large amounts of oxygen. Exercise increases the production of new connections and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.aaw2622" target="_blank">enhances cognitive abilities</a>.</p><p>In their native habits these animals must move to survive, covering great distances to forage or find a mate. Elephants typically travel anywhere from <a href="https://www.elephantsforafrica.org/elephant-facts/#:%7E:text=How%20far%20do%20elephants%20walk,km%20on%20a%20daily%20basis." target="_blank">15 to 120 miles per day</a>. In a zoo, they average <a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0150331" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">three miles daily</a>, often walking back and forth in small enclosures. One free orca studied in Canada swam <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s00300-010-0958-x" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">up to 156 miles a day</a>; meanwhile, an average orca tank is about 10,000 times smaller than its <a href="https://www.cascadiaresearch.org/projects/killer-whales/using-dtags-study-acoustics-and-behavior-southern" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">natural home range</a>.</p>
Disrupting Brain Chemistry and Killing Cells<p>Living in enclosures that restrict or prevent normal behavior creates chronic frustration and boredom. In the wild, an animal's stress-response system helps it escape from danger. But captivity traps animals with <a href="https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1215502109" target="_blank">almost no control</a> over their environment.</p><p>These situations foster <a href="https://doi.org/10.1037/rev0000033" target="_blank">learned helplessness</a>, negatively impacting the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/6391686" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">hippocampus</a>, which handles memory functions, and the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuropharm.2011.02.024" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">amygdala</a>, which processes emotions. Prolonged stress <a href="https://doi.org/10.3109/10253899609001092" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">elevates stress hormones</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.10-09-02897.1990" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">damages or even kills neurons</a> in both brain regions. It also disrupts the <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2005.03.021" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">delicate balance of serotonin</a>, a neurotransmitter that stabilizes mood, among other functions.</p><p>In humans, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1006/nimg.2001.0917" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">deprivation</a> can trigger <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2018.00367" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">psychiatric issues</a>, including depression, anxiety, <a href="https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2018.00367" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mood disorders</a> or <a href="https://doi.org/10.1177/1073858409333072" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">post-traumatic stress disorder</a>. <a href="https://doi.org/10.1007/s00429-010-0288-3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Elephants</a>, <a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.0050139" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">orcas</a> and other animals with large brains are likely to react in similar ways to life in a severely stressful environment.</p>
Damaged Wiring<p>Captivity can damage the brain's complex circuitry, including the basal ganglia. This group of neurons communicates with the cerebral cortex along two networks: a direct pathway that enhances movement and behavior, and an indirect pathway that inhibits them.</p><p>The repetitive, <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2014.05.057" target="_blank">stereotypic behaviors</a> that many animals adopt in captivity are caused by an imbalance of two neurotransmitters, dopamine and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neubiorev.2010.02.004" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">serotonin</a>. This impairs the indirect pathway's ability to modulate movement, a condition documented in species from chickens, cows, sheep and horses to primates and big cats.</p>
The cerebral cortex, hippocampus and amygdala are physically altered by captivity, along with brain circuitry that involves the basal ganglia. Bob Jacobs, CC BY-ND<p>Evolution has constructed animal brains to be exquisitely responsive to their environment. Those reactions can affect neural function by <a href="https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/311787/behave-by-robert-m-sapolsky/" target="_blank">turning different genes on or off</a>. Living in inappropriate or abusive circumstance alters biochemical processes: It disrupts the synthesis of proteins that build connections between brain cells and the neurotransmitters that facilitate communication among them.</p><p>There is strong evidence that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0577-11.2011" target="_blank">enrichment</a>, social contact and appropriate space in more natural habitats are <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-1090.2003.tb02071.x" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">necessary</a> for long-lived animals with large brains such as <a href="https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0152490" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">elephants</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1080/13880292.2017.1309858" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cetaceans</a>. Better conditions <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5543669/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reduce disturbing sterotypical behaviors</a>, improve connections in the brain, and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1038/cdd.2009.193" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">trigger neurochemical changes</a> that enhance learning and memory.</p>