This Japanese radish deserves the spotlight.
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If you're into Japanese cuisine, you've probably come across a daikon or two without knowing it. Common in traditional Japanese food and other Asian cuisines, this white, crunchy root vegetable can brighten up meals, adding texture and sweet flavor to dishes and condiments. Cubed, grated or sliced, it adds bite and character, but you may not recognize it in its full form.

What Is Daikon?

Daikon (sometimes called winter radish) is a root vegetable similar in shape to a large carrot with a flavor that's similar to a mild red radish. It's grown in many Asian countries, and in Japan, it's the most commonly eaten vegetable.

Daikon vs. Radish

Daikon and radishes are from the same family, but there are a few differences. The red radishes we slice and toss into salads are much smaller and sharper in flavor than the radishes used in Japanese cuisine. Red radishes are peppery whereas the white radish is mild and slightly sweet.

There is also mu, which is the Korean radish. The Korean radish is a type of daikon radish. It's similar to the long white Japanese radish, but it's shaped more like a potato. Another type of radish is called the watermelon radish, a variety of Chinese radish. It has the same texture and crunch as Japanese and red radishes but is green on the outside, pink on the inside and has a mellower flavor.

Daikon Nutrition

Daikon is a low-calorie, nutritious vegetable. Every one cup of daikon contains:

  • Calories: 21kcal
  • Carbohydrates: 4.76g
  • Protein: 0.7g
  • Fat: 0.11g
  • Fiber: 1.86g (7% DV)
  • Potassium: 263mg (8% DV)
  • Vitamin C: 25.5mg (42% DV)
  • Folate: 32mcg (8% DV)
  • Calcium: 31 mg (3% DV)
  • Magnesium: 19mg (5% DV)

Daikon Health Benefits

Daikon has about three-quarters of the potassium of a banana and half the amount of vitamin C in an orange. It also contains small amounts of fiber, folate, calcium and magnesium. With its decent amount of nutrients, daikon may offer some health benefits.

Promotes wound healing

Daikon is an excellent source of vitamin C, an essential nutrient that promotes wound healing, collagen production and more.

Protects against cell damage

In addition to being a water-soluble vitamin, vitamin C is also an antioxidant that may protect cells from damage by free radicals. These molecules may harm the body when their levels reach too high. Research suggests that a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables, including daikon, may reduce cancer risk.

May help stabilize blood sugar

Daikon, a non-starchy vegetable, has minimal amounts of carbohydrates, making it an ideal vegetable for people with diabetes to include as part of their diet. It has been noted in research that eating radishes such as daikon may prevent blood sugar spikes by slowing down carbohydrate absorption.

Cooking with Daikon

There are many ways to serve white radishes—cooked or raw. Raw daikon works well in salads and slaws, as a side dish for summer picnics or thinly sliced and pickled for sandwiches that need a pick-me-up (a classic Vietnamese banh mi sandwich is typically topped with pickled carrots and daikon, for example). It's also great in stir-fries cooked with meat—cooking radishes yields soft, starchy chunks similar to potatoes. EatingWell has several recipes to try with daikon and if you're feeling adventurous, you can swap out regular radishes for the Japanese root.