Daikon or giant white radish is a food with remarkable properties, which is good for our health and our figure. Let’s see the properties, how to eat and the contraindications.
Daikon is a giant radish native to East Asia and widespread in Japan, whose scientific name is Raphanus sativus, belonging to the same family of cabbage and savoy cabbage. For some years also produced in Europe, it is typical of the Japanese culinary tradition. It is an edible root with a consistency very similar to that of carrot but with a decidedly strong and spicy flavor.
Daikon: varieties and characteristics
There are many varieties of daikon , although the most common in Japan is the Aokubi daikon , which has the shape of a carrot, but a length of 25-35 cm and a diameter ranging from 5 to 10 cm and white in color . However, there are also even larger variants.
- In China, for example, it is possible to find a light green variety, which has a shape more similar to that of a potato, with a crisper pulp and a more delicate flavor than the white one;
- There is also a variety of Japanese daikon that is usually pickled, which is daikon takuan, of a bright yellow color;
- The black daikon, on the other hand, has a rounded shape and retains a white pulp, only the outer skin is black but has the same taste and the same characteristics as the white one.
Daikon: calories and nutritional values
Being a root, daikon is a food rich in water and consequently low in calories , its energy intake is in fact just 18 kcal per 100 grams. Most of these calories are due to carbohydrates, followed by proteins and only minimally by fats, which in fact represent just 0.1% of the composition of daikon. Although low in calories, daikon is instead rich in nutritional properties, containing many minerals and vitamins, as well as fiber, which are extremely useful for the well-being of our body. More specifically, among the vitamins contained in daikon we mention vitamin C, B vitamins and folates, while the minerals include potassium, phosphorus, calcium and zinc. There are also compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action. For greater clarity, we report the table with the nutritional values of daikon.
Nutritional values per 100g of daikon:
- Kcal: 18
- Carbohydrates: 2.9 g
- Fat: 0.1 g
- Proteins: 0.8 g
- Fibers: 1.5 g
- Waterfall: 93.0 g
- Iron: 0.4 mg
- Soccer: 30 mg
- Sodium: 27 mg
- Potassium: 220 mg
- Phosphorus: 25 mg
- Zinc: 0.3 mg
- Vitamin: B1 0.03 mg
- Vitamin: B2 0.01 mg
- C vitamin: 24 mg
- Vitamin: B3 0.50 mg
- Vitamin: B6 0.07 mg
- Total folate: 38 µg
Daikon: health benefits
The benefits of daikon for our health are numerous, due to its content in vitamins and minerals, but also of bioactive compounds. Its digestive, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-carcinogenic properties are particularly well known, so much so that it has been consumed in Japan for over a thousand years. So let’s see what the “Japanese radish” is good for.
✓ Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant
Daikon contains a bioactive compound, which is a form of isothiocyanate , a chemical compound with strong antioxidant powers , which among other things gives this food its pungent flavor. This compound exerts an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action at different levels in our body, as demonstrated by various scientific studies.
✓ Expectorant properties
Daikon is widely used in Japan to soothe throat inflammations and to treat diseases of the upper respiratory tract thanks to its expectorant and mucolytic properties. For a greater effect in this sense it is sometimes used in combination with honey.
✓ Facilitates digestion
Not only does isothiocyanate stimulate the secretion of gastric juices favoring digestion, but daikon has a direct action on digestion due to the digestive enzymes amylase and esterase it contains, in fact in Japan it is often served at the end of a meal to facilitate the digestion of fatty and fried. It is therefore a good natural digestive.
✓ Cancer prevention
Thanks to the presence of glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, daikon has shown protective effects against oncological diseases, especially against cancer of the colon and organs of the digestive system, such as the pancreas
✓ Fights obesity
Studies conducted on laboratory guinea pigs affected by obesity show that daikon, thanks to the action of isothiocyanate, is able to reduce the accumulation of fat in the liver and reduce the levels of inflammation generated by the accumulation of adipose tissue, therefore it could be an aid in the management of obesity and metabolic syndrome
✓ Beneficial for the cardiovascular system
The daikon plays a role in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases because thanks to the action of trigonellin, it is able to improve the functionality of the endothelium of the blood vessels, ie the tissue that covers them internally, protecting and strengthening them
Daikon is a food with a low glycemic index, which lends itself well to being used by diabetics also because its fibers and the numerous anti-inflammatory compounds it contains help to correctly manage the glucose introduced during the meal, avoiding glycemic peaks and sudden absorption of sugars. In the case of high blood sugar, in fact, it is good to consume certain foods and avoid others. To find out more, we invite you to read our in-depth study: High blood sugar: what to eat and what to avoid.
Daikon is rich in water and minerals, which help maintain the right hydro-saline balance, so it is not only suitable for replenishing fluids and salts after physical activity, but also has draining properties and counteracts water retention. Vitamin C contained in good quantities also contributes to reducing oxidative stress generated by intense physical activity.
✓ Facilitates weight loss
As we have seen, daikon has very few calories, so not only does it not make you fat but it can be well inserted in a low-calorie diet and, moreover, thanks to the presence of fiber and water, it ensures that the sense of satiety is reached earlier during the meal.
How much daikon to eat
The standard portion of daikon, being a vegetable, is about 150 g, which provide less than 30 kcal, and it is possible to eat it several times a week if we like, since it is a very versatile food in the kitchen. which lends itself to various preparations and is easily combined with both first and second courses.
What does daikon taste like
Daikon has a distinctive flavor, which is very similar to that of traditional radish . It is usually sweeter in the upper part, the one near the tuft, to become slightly spicy and pungent in the thinnest part, very similar to ginger and radish. Of course the taste fades when the daikon is cooked.
How to eat daikon: tips for using it Daikon can be eaten raw or cooked . Of course, the best way to take advantage of the properties of daikon and its benefits is to eat it raw, because with cooking some of the beneficial bioactive compounds are denatured and therefore lose their effectiveness. It is not at all difficult to eat raw daikon because it is the ideal match for many dishes, it can in fact be added to salads as you would for a radish or a carrot, eat it in a pinzimonio with oil and salt and grate it raw on fish dishes. or meat.
Cleaning the daikon is simple. If we buy a daikon root supplied with leaves we must remove them and then wash it thoroughly. After that you can peel it with a knife or a potato peeler and cut it into slices, julienne, chunks or grate it with a grater depending on the use we want to make of it.
Daikon is also excellent cooked and can be added to winter soups or soups, for example as an alternative or partial replacement for potatoes. In summer we can instead add it to rice or other cereal salads, for an even fresher taste.
If you want to use it as a side dish, you can cook the daikon steamed or in a pan by adding vegetable broth or simply water, lengthening the cooking times until it is soft. Of course, fried daikon, like potatoes, is delicious! If we want to avoid frying, we can cut the daikon into thin slices and put them in the oven to make tasty chips.
Another way to taste daikon is marinated in salt, a preparation known in Japan as “namasu”: after washing and slicing the root, it is salted for about half an hour, then rinsed, dabbed and put on all in a glass jar with a marinade of water, rice vinegar and sugar. In this way it can be stored for a few days in the refrigerator.
There are many Japanese and Korean recipes that use daikon and often, unknowingly, we may have happened to eat it with sushi or in the typical Japanese miso soup.
Daikon: the contraindications
Although rich in beneficial properties, the use of daikon, as well as for all cruciferous plants, must be limited in the case of thyroid problems as it could interfere with the normal functioning of the gland. Furthermore, the isothiocyanates present, stimulating gastric secretion, could aggravate pre-existing gastritis problems . In case of inflammation of the urinary tract it could be irritating to the mucous membranes. Also, it is better to limit its use if you have a predisposition to gallstones . However, there are no particular contraindications to eating daikon during pregnancy, although in these cases it is always advisable to also seek the advice of the gynecologist specialist.
Where to buy daikon
Finding the fresh daikon root today is quite simple, just go to the grocery stores of oriental ethnic products, and often it can also be found in the fruit and vegetable department of supermarkets. It is also possible to buy daikon online, both fresh and dried or marinated.