Life Extension Magazine®

Radishes high in isothiocyanates and low calories

Super Foods

Low-calorie, nutrient-packed radishes contain compounds called isothiocyanates, which have potent anti-cancer properties.

Scientifically reviewed by: Holli Ryan, RD, LD/N, in August 2023. Written by: Laurie Mathena.

It is said that thousands of years ago the laborers who built the Egyptian pyramids were paid in radishes, and that the ancient Greeks offered gold replicas of radishes in tribute to the god Apollo. But today, it is the radish’s health benefits that are especially valuable.

These crunchy, zesty root vegetables contain fiber, folate, and carotenoids, a variety of vitamins and minerals, and much more. These and other nutrients are responsible for many health benefits associated with radishes.

What you need to know

Radishes are high in isothiocyanates, which have been documented to have potent anti-cancer properties. Add some to your diet today. Find out more interesting facts about these amazing root veggies.

Anti-Cancer Properties

Epidemiological studies show that high intake of cruciferous vegetables like radishes is associated with a lower incidence of lung and colorectal cancer.1

Radishes contain phytochemicals called isothiocyanates, which have potent anti-cancer properties. Lab and animal studies have shown that isothiocyanates protect cells from DNA damage, induce cell death through apoptosis (cell suicide), inhibit tumor blood vessel formation, inhibit tumor cells from spreading, and help inactivate carcinogens.2

One specific isothiocyanate, called sulforaphane, has been found to inhibit prostate,3 colon,4 breast,5 and ovarian cancer.6

Stomach Protection

Folk medicine has long used radishes for the treatment of gastric ulcers. More recent research has confirmed that radish juice can help prevent gastric ulcers by strengthening the mucosal barrier,7 while an extract of radish leaves was shown to help heal ulcers in rats with peptic ulcer disease.8

At just 12 calories per ½ cup serving, radishes make the perfect crunchy snack. Enjoy them raw with a healthy dip, add them to salads, or roast them in the oven topped with pepper and sea salt.


  1. Pharmacol Res. 2007 Mar;55(3):224-36.
  2. Available at: Accessed February 25, 2019.
  3. Cancer Prev Res (Phila) . 2015 Aug;8(8):712-9.
  4. Colorectal Dis. 2004 Jan;6(1):28-31.
  5. Drug Discov Today. 2004 Nov 1;9(21):908.
  6. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand. 2007 Oct;86(10):1263-8.
  7. Famacia. 2008;56(2):204-14.
  8. Saudi Pharm J. 2011 Jul;19(3):171-6.