Picture of beets and radishes at a farmers market

Beet vs Radish: Which is Healthier?

Beets and radishes are often-underappreciated vegetables that provide powerful health and anti-aging benefits.  In the battle between beet vs radish, we weigh in on taste, nutritional value, and health benefits.

Though beets and radishes have different flavors, they can often be substituted for one another in recipes.  Beets have a slightly sweet taste and are more earthy whereas radishes have a peppery, sharp flavor. When prepared properly, you may find they join the list of your favorite vegetables!

Read on to learn more about beets and radishes, their health benefits, and how best to prepare them.

What are Beets?

Red beet, also called beetroot, table beet, or garden beet, is in the Amaranthacea family along with Swiss chard and spinach.  Beets are edible root vegetables that are usually red/purple in color, and their color is likely to stain your skin, fabric, and cookware.  Beet varieties such as golden beets and white beets are lighter in color and will not stain.  

Best eaten cooked, beets are now conveniently available pre-cooked in the grocery store for easier access.  The entire beet plant is edible, including the leaves, which are also best eaten cooked.  Beet sprouts and microgreens have become popular for their mild flavor when eaten raw. In this article we will focus on beetroot rather than beet greens.

How to Eat Beets

Beetroot has an earthy flavor with slightly bitter undertones and a sweet aftertaste.  You may eat beets boiled, roasted, pickled, juiced, or consumed as a beet powder added to juices or smoothies.  See our recipe for a customizable smoothie here.  Marinate cooked beets in vinegar or lemon juice to offset the earthy taste.

The simplest way to consume beets is to purchase them pre-cooked and add them to salads.  You can also blend them into smoothies or juice them if you have a juicer.  Beet juice is surprisingly delicious!  You may also use beet powder in smoothies or juice.

What are Radishes?

Radishes are part of the Brassicaceae family, and are a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli, cauliflower and bok choy.  People typically enjoy radishes raw, though they can also be cooked. 

Raw radishes are smaller and stronger in flavor than beets, with a spicy, peppery kick.  The globe red radish, which is small, round and red, is the best known and most popular variety.  Another popular variety is the daikon radish, which is oblong and white and has a less intense peppery flavor than the red radish.  

Similar to beets, radish greens are also edible, though they are seldom consumed that way.  Raw radish leaves are quite bitter, and thus are better sautéed with a little garlic and olive oil then topped with lemon juice.  They can also be braised or steamed, or added to soups and stews.  For the purposes of this post, we will focus on the radish globe rather than the radish leaves.

How to Eat Radishes

Enjoy raw, sliced radishes as a flavorful addition to salads and sandwiches or for dipping into hummus or guacamole.  They are also delicious plain with a little bit of sea salt. Radishes have a spicy bite that some will enjoy, while others will prefer pickled radishes which helps to cut the strong, peppery flavor.

Nutritional Value: Beet vs. Radish

When comparing beets and radishes, it is important to consider not only the beneficial nutrients, but also the calorie and sugar content of each.

Beet vs Radish Nutritional Value, per cup raw

Dietary Fiber3.81.9

As you can see from the table above, radishes are significantly lower in calories, protein, carbohydrate, sugar and dietary fiber than beets.  However, do not discount the potent nutritional value packaged in this low calorie vegetable.  

Both beets and radishes provide significant health and anti-aging benefits, in some similar and some very different ways.  If you are concerned about weight loss, calories, or sugar intake, you may opt to consume more radishes than beets. 

Read on to compare the health benefits of beets and radishes.

Health Benefits of Beets

Beets and beet juice (juice made from raw beets) are underappreciated superfoods that can reduce your risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes and may improve your cognitive function.

Beets are Strong Antioxidants

The potent antioxidant properties of beets help protect your body against harmful free radicals, which in turn helps prevent chronic disease and inflammation.  Red beetroot is a top-ten antioxidant food (1). thanks to its concentration of betalains (red and yellow plant pigments) and dietary nitrates (nitrogen based compounds found naturally in plants).  Antioxidant foods like beetroot protect your cells against free radicals and help protect against chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, and arthritis.

Beets Improve Blood Flow

The nitrates in beets improve circulation which can help lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart attack, and improve memory and brain function.  By increasing vascular flow, beets also improve exercise performance in healthy adults and can reduce post-workout muscle soreness (2, 3).  

Beets Are Good for Your Gut

Beets are a good source of fiber (beet juice has the fiber removed) and other compounds such as betalains and phenolics which improve your gut microbiome and boost your digestive health. The fiber in beets may also help reduce LDL cholesterol levels (4).

Beets May Help Prevent Cancer

Some studies have demonstrated a promising cancer-protective effect of beets and beet juice.  Beetroot may also help offset the negative effects of chemotherapy (5,6,7). 

Health Benefits of Radishes

Radishes are Powerful Antioxidants

Radishes contain compounds called flavonoids and anthocyanins which have beneficial antioxidant properties and protect cells from free radical damage.  Flavonoids and anthocyanins help prevent heart disease, cancer, diabetes and cognitive diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s (8,9).

Radishes May Protect Your Liver

Your liver has many important functions, including clearing toxins from the blood, making bile to help digest food, and storing vitamins for later use.  Radishes have a variety of compounds that appear to help the liver efficiently process toxins and help prevent fatty liver disease.  (10)  They are  especially effective at helping to protect the liver from damage due to acetaminophen, a common pain reliever (11).

Radishes May Help Prevent Cancer

Various bioactive compounds in radishes have powerful anti-cancer effects similar to that of other cruciferous vegetables.  Radishes have been shown to help reduce the risk of cancers of the colon, liver, breast, pancreas, cervix and prostate (12).

Radishes Have Anti-Diabetic Effects

There is significant scientific evidence that radishes can help regulate blood sugar levels and prevent oxidative stress caused by diabetes.  Thus, radishes are a healthy way to help manage blood sugar levels (13,14).

And The Winner Is…

As you can see, in the battle of beet vs radish there is no clear winner.  Beets and radishes can both be great allies in your quest for better health. Increasing your consumption of these healthy root vegetables is an excellent way to help prevent chronic disease while enjoying their age-defying benefits.  Give them a try!

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