Watermelon Radish- A Hidden Treasure


I was perusing the veggies at our local farmer’s market this weekend and I saw a sign for watermelon radish.  Curious, I bought a small bunch of these light green radishes and continued on my way.  I came home and promptly put them in my fridge.  I had totally forgotten about them, but by mid-week I needed to finish our quickly withering arugula.  I discovered the radishes tucked away under the arugula.  Imagine the delight of cutting open the insipid, light green skin to find a  gorgeous, crimson heart tucked away inside.  What a splendid secret … modest and unassuming on the outside, but heart-achingly beautiful within.


Oh,  and the taste…it is far more mild than a regular radish.  Slightly sweet at first with a delicate bite at the end.  The watermelon radish is an heirloom variety of the daikon radish.  It is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, but is often overshadowed by it’s more celebrated siblings: broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.


The humble radish has some very esteemable healing properties.  Radish ethanol extract has been shown to inhibit human breast cell proliferation (growth).  In another study, Radish hexane extracts were shown to induce apoptosis ( programmed cell death) in cancer cell lines, thus, conferring a cancer-protective effect.  In animal models, black radish juice was shown to decrease cholesterol stones in the gall bladder, decrease ldl (low-density lipoproteins-bad cholesterol) and triglycerides, while increasing hdl ( high density lipoproteins-good cholesterol).  In another study, involving animals,  Japanase radish sprout was shown to have both a  hypoglycemic and hypolipidemic effect.

My favorite way to munch on these beauties is a la carte or sometimes with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  They also add a crunchy texture and mild bite to any salad.



1. Antilithiasic and Hypolipidaemic Effects of Raphanus sativus L. var. niger on Mice Fed with a Lithogenic Diet.

Castro-Torres IG, Naranjo-Rodríguez EB, Domínguez-Ortíz MÁ, Gallegos-Estudillo J, Saavedra-Vélez MV.

J Biomed Biotechnol. 2012;2012:161205. doi: 10.1155/2012/161205. Epub 2012 Oct 3


2.Effect of Japanese radish (Raphanus sativus) sprout (Kaiware-daikon) on carbohydrate and lipid metabolisms in normal and streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats.

Taniguchi H, Kobayashi-Hattori K, Tenmyo C, Kamei T, Uda Y, Sugita-Konishi Y, Oishi Y, Takita T.

Phytother Res. 2006 Apr;20(4):274-8.

3.Radish (Raphanus sativus L. leaf) ethanol extract inhibits protein and mRNA expression of ErbB(2) and ErbB(3) in MDA-MB-231 human breast cancer cells.

Kim WK, Kim JH, Jeong da H, Chun YH, Kim SH, Cho KJ, Chang MJ.

Nutr Res Pract. 2011 Aug;5(4):288-93. Epub 2011 Aug 31.


4.Hexane extract of Raphanus sativus L. roots inhibits cell proliferation and induces apoptosis in human cancer cells by modulating genes related to apoptotic pathway.

Beevi SS, Mangamoori LN, Subathra M, Edula JR.

Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2010 Sep;65(3):200-9

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