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What Is Daikon Radish, and What Is It Used For?

Health + Wellness
skaman306 / Moment / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

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?

Daikon — also known as luóbo and winter, white, oilseed, and icicle radish — is a variety of radish native to China and Japan (2).

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.

Summary

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 Nutrition

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).

Foods rich in folate are particularly important during pregnancy, as this nutrient plays an integral role in the growth and development of the baby (8Trusted Source).

Summary

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.

Test-tube and animal research shows that these compounds may provide powerful cancer-fighting properties (12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source, 14Trusted Source).

Plus, population studies indicate that eating a lot of cruciferous vegetables like radishes may protect against certain cancers, including of the colon and lungs (15Trusted Source, 16Trusted Source).

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.

For example, a study in 1,197 people found that those who ate more non-starchy vegetables had less body fat and lower levels of insulin, a hormone involved in fat storage (17Trusted Source).

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).

Summary

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.

Culinary Uses

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.

Though tiny, they have powerful medicinal properties and have exhibited antioxidant and anticancer effects in test-tube studies (25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source).

Use them as you would use more commonly enjoyed sprouts, such as broccoli and alfalfa varieties.

Summary

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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