At what point did it become the norm to only eat the roots of the radish plant? When fresh off the farm, this noble member of the mustard family (a close relative of turnips, cabbage, cauliflower and kale) offers wonderful nutrition in both the root and the greens. In fact, the tops of the radish plant contains 6 times the amount of Vitamin C that the roots do! In addition, the radish is high in Vitamin B, calcium, potassium and folic acid.
In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), the radish is considered a cooling food and more Yin, and therefore is an excellent choice when it’s hot outside or you have a tendency to build up heat inside your body (Pittas take note!). It also acts as a diuretic, is wonderful for stimulating digestion and helps to cleanse both your gallbladder and liver. Because of these amazing properties, the radish is considered a medicinal food and is often recommended during an illness. During my bout with whooping cough, I was advised to eat and juice radishes to cool the heat in my lungs!
So feel free to chop up the green tops and toss them into your salad or into the juicer. One cautionary note: I personally would only juice or eat radish greens that have been grown without pesticides. Get to know your local farmers and ask their growing procedures. Many of them can’t afford the organic certification but they grow responsibly for their customers and their own families. Just ask! Oh, and don’t give me the “I can’t afford them” line. This humongous bunch of pesticide-free radishes cost me $2.00 at my local farmer’s market! Yes, it might take a little more effort than going to the corner bodega or grocery store, but your body will thank you.