Detoxifying, cleansing daikon radish

Daikon radish is one of most cleansing vegetables you’ll find. They help cleanse your kidneys and urinary system, and are a powerful detoxifier. If you’re feeling bloated or have a “funny tummy,” daikon radish is a perfect soothing, cleansing veggie.

Why daikon?

I recommend daikon radish to my clients as one of the most cleansing foods, along with mild white fish, celery and cucumber — all good foods to use if you’ve overindulged, are stressed out, or have just gotten over a cold.

Daikon’s”winter radish” designation has more to do with how long they take to mature than when they’ll grow; daikon radishes grown in the summer are spicier and more tart. Daikon (also called oriental radishes) are cruciferous vegetables, just like cabbage and broccoli.

Like most of their cruciferous relatives, daikon radishes are spectacularly high in glucosinolates — a phytonutrient that is transformed into another type of phytonutrient, called isothiocyanates, by enzyme activity within the radish. Those isothiocyanates, in turn, show all kinds of anti-cancer activity.

There’s more: Daikon also have lots of antioxidant, immune-boosting and inflammation-busting vitamin C, plus potassium, folate, and a proportionally high amount of the alpha-linolenic acid form of omega-3 fatty acids. They’re a natural diuretic that cleanses your kidneys and urinary system. Finally, they’re very high in fiber to help keep your intestines healthy and contain some vitamin K to help regulate your immune and inflammatory responses.

Choosing the best daikon

Daikon radishes look like smooth, thick white carrots, and the fall crops are usually mildly spicy, with just a little bit of tart radish taste.

When you shop for daikon radishes, look for roots with smooth, unblemished skin that’s firm and not rubbery. If there are greens attached, they should look fresh. (You can eat the peppery-tasting greens raw or lightly steamed; like the root, they’re very high in vitamin C.)

The radishes themselves will keep for a week or two if you refrigerate them in a plastic bag. Cut the greens off before you store them; the greens will only keep for a couple of days in the fridge.

Add the radishes anywhere you need a quick crunch of spicy, tart flavor. They’re great in stir-fries and soups, minced and mixed with tuna or other fish, thinly sliced in salads, or grated for use in coleslaw.

Daikon and other radishes don’t freeze well, but if you have any root leftovers you can always turn them into refrigerator pickles. Brine them in a mix of vinegar, water, salt, garlic and your favorite spices (try mustard, coriander, and black pepper), then store in tightly sealed jars in the refrigerator.