Radish vs Beetroot - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison
Beetroot and radish are two vegetables with similar appearances and uses in the kitchen. Both are full of nutrients and can be beneficial for general health. In this article, we will talk about what sets them apart, and which one is the better choice, based on their advantages and limitations.
Beetroot and radish are two distinctly different species, belonging to separate families and genera.
Beetroot, also known as simply beet, garden beet or table beet, belongs to the Beta vulgaris species, the Beta genus, Betoideae subfamily and Amaranthaceae family. Beetroot is part of the same species as sugar beet and chard.
Radish (Raphanus raphanistrum), on the other hand, is part of the Raphanus genus and the Brasicaceae family. Radishes share this family with the cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower, turnip and others.
Both of these vegetables are known for their distinct shades of red and purple. Beetroot is even commonly used as a food colouring. However, beetroot and radish cultivars can vary in colour, size and shape. Besides the usual red, pink and purple, these vegetables can also come in yellow, green and white. Radishes can also have a grey to black colouring.
When comparing the appearance of the most popular types of beetroot and radish, beetroot wins in size. Radish is lighter in colour and also has a white flesh, as opposed to beetroot’s purple flesh.
Taste and Use
Beetroot is often used in the kitchen in cooked forms, although it can also be consumed raw. The opposite can be said for radishes.
Beetroots have a slightly bitter, earthly flavour, whereas radishes are a lot sharper and spicier in taste.
Beetroot and radish are similar in the garden. Both of these vegetables prefer loamy, slightly acidic soils, the pH levels ranging from 6.0 to 7.5. They also grow best in cool temperatures, preferably in Spring or Autumn, with the soil temperature being above 4°C (40°F) and below 32°C (95°F) (1, 2).
Both beetroot and radishes have dozens of varieties, differentiated by their varying sizes, shapes, textures and colours, as well as their nutritional compositions.
Even though the word beetroot is mostly associated with classic red beets, there are other well known varieties such as golden, white, Chioggia and more.
Based on size, radishes can be globe, oval, oblong and long. Each of these include many varieties of radishes within them. After the globe red radish, the next radish in line by popularity is daikon. Daikon is a long, white Japanese radish that is also known as Oriental or winter radish.
As many vegetables, beetroot and radish are full of vitamins and dietary fiber. Here, we will focus on their nutritional differences.
Macronutrients and Calories
The main element that composes both of these vegetables is water. However, beetroot is more dense in nutrients, consisting only 88% of water, whereas radish contains 95% of it.
The average serving size for beetroot is one beet, that weighs around 82g. In contrast to that the serving size of radish, also one medium radish, weighs only about 4.5g.
Both of these vegetables are low calorie foods.
Being more dense in nutrients, beetroot is higher in calories. One hundred grams of beetroot contains 46 calories, whereas the same amount of radish has only 16 calories.
Protein and Fats
Beetroot is also higher in both protein and fats.
Beetroot contains over twice the amount of protein that radish does. Both have some levels of all essential amino acids.
Beetroot and radish are low in fats, however beetroot is a little higher. The predominant fat type found in both of these vegetables are the preferable polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Beetroot contains almost three times more carbohydrates, in comparison to radish. Beetroot also has a higher percentage of dietary fiber and, therefore, a lower percentage of sugars.
The main sugar found in radish is glucose, followed by fructose and then sucrose.
Overall, beetroot wins in this category. However radishes are much richer in vitamin C and vitamin K.
Beetroots, on the other hand, contain much higher levels of vitamin A, the folate form of vitamin B9, vitamin B1 and vitamin B3. Beetroots also contain vitamin E, whereas radishes do not.
The two vegetables have similar amounts of vitamin B2, vitamin B5 and vitamin B6, with radish being only a little higher in vitamins B5 and B6.
Both beetroot and radish completely lack vitamin D, vitamin B12 and the folic form of vitamin B9.
Beetroot is higher in almost all minerals, except for calcium, which radish has two times more of.
Beetroot is much richer in iron, magnesium and phosphorus, and contains moderately higher levels of copper, potassium, zinc, manganese and selenium.
Radishes are lower in sodium and higher in choline.
The glycemic index of beetroot from Canada has been calculated to be 64±16, putting beetroots in the medium glycemic index category (3).
While there has not been a study researching an exact number for a glycemic index of radishes, we can assume this number to be lower than 64, based on the lower sugar concentration.
Radish has been studied to significantly reduce starch-induced postprandial glycemic load, expressing strong antidiabetic qualities (4).
The pH value of beetroots falls from 5.3 to 6.6 and can change depending on the growing and preparation methods. This pH value means that beets are slightly acidic (5).
The acidity of radishes is similar to beets, falling in the range of 5.5 to 6.0 and thus making radishes acidic as well (6).
Another way to look at acidity is by measuring the potential renal acid load. The PRAL value demonstrates the capacity of the food to produce bases or acids inside the body.
The PRAL value for beetroots has been calculated to be -5.4, whereas radishes have a PRAL value of -4.4. This shows that beetroots are more alkaline once digested.
Both beetroot and radish are low calorie foods, rich in dietary fiber, as most vegetables. When comparing the two, radishes are lower in both fats and carbs and, therefore, calories. However, beets can also be a great, healthy option on a weight loss diet.
Beetroot juice supplementation has been studied to improve exercise tolerance during severe-intensity work outs in obese teenagers, due to beet’s high concentration of nitric oxide. This can be used as a measure against early fatigue and reduced physical activity (7).
Radish sango sprout juice has also been researched to be effective in reducing body weight in high fat diet rats (8).
A compound has been found in daikon that has a potential to prevent high fat induced obesity in mice by expressing anti inflammatory and antioxidant effects, as well as suppressing the fat accumulation in the liver (9).
Beets and radishes are viewed as healthy foods by most. Here, we will pay closer attention to the effects and mechanisms of action.
Beetroot juice has been studied to have positive effects on blood pressure. In one study beetroot juice showed a trend to decrease systolic blood pressure (10). Another study found that beetroot juice consumption can improve endothelial function and the impairment of brachial artery dilation, after a mixed meal (11).
Another research about beetroot juice demonstrated its protective property against reperfusion myocardial infarction and ventricular dysfunction, potentially due to endogenous hydrogen sulfide generation (12).
Overall, in various studies, beetroot supplementation has been reported to reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure, inhibit platelet aggregation and improve vascular and endothelial function (13).
Radish seed crude extract has been shown to have hypotensive and cardio-modulatory effects through activation of muscarinic receptors (14).
A variety of daikon, Sakurajima radish, contains a compound that has the potential to improve vascular endothelial functions (15).
Even though there’s a lot about beets and radishes that has yet to be discovered, evidently, both can play a protective role in cardiovascular health.
Beetroot juice contains antioxidant phytochemicals, such as neobatanin, that help suppress the blood glucose levels after food intake (16). Besides reducing blood glucose, beetroot juice has also been researched for its ability to improve insulin homeostasis (13).
Radish is recommended as a part of a diabetic diet, as it has been demonstrated to possess anti-diabetic qualities. These qualities may be due to radish’s ability to enhance antioxidant defence mechanisms and reduce the production of free radicals, as well as affect glucose homeostasis, promote glucose uptake and energy metabolism and reduce the absorption of glucose in the intestines (17).
When talking about diabetes, we have to also pay attention to the lipid profile, in order to ameliorate diabetic dyslipidemia. Beetroot juice consumption lowers the levels of all lipids, except for high density lipoprotein, also known as the “good” cholesterol (13).
It has been found that pigments contained in red beetroots called betanin, are effective at cancer chemoprevention at low doses in drinking water. This effect probably relies on the antioxidant capacity of beets (18). Betanin may play a role in the suppression of the development and growth of human prostate and breast cancer cell lines (19), as well as colorectal cancer cell lines (20).
Radishes have also been found to have anticancer activities, mainly as a result of the antioxidants contained within cruciferous vegetables, namely glucosinolates. The extract of Spanish black radishes has been demonstrated to have an inhibitory effect on human liver cancer cell lines (21). Different parts of several varieties of radishes have also exhibited anticancer properties against colon, breast, cervical, lung and prostate cancer cell lines (22).
Downsides and Risks
Risk of beetroot
Intake of high levels of nitrates has been shown to cause an increased risk of several types of cancer. Meaning, paradoxically, an overuse of beets or beetroot juice may potentially increase the risk of developing certain cancers. However, there are not enough studies to conclude this as a certainty (23).
Risk of radish
Some studies have found that a prolonged consumption of radish, as well as other cruciferous vegetables, may lead to the development of a relative state of morphological and biochemical hypothyroidism, even in the presence of iodine (24).
Beetroot and radish belong to distinct separate species and, depending on variety, both can come in various shapes, sizes and colours. Both of these vegetables are low in calories, however radish is lower in calories, as well as protein, fats and carbohydrates. Beets are richer in vitamins and minerals, being higher in vitamin A, vitamins B1, B3 and B9, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper, potassium and zinc. Beets also contain vitamin E, whereas radishes do not. However, radishes contain higher amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, and are lower in sodium.
Both beets and radishes have exhibited anti obesity, hypotensive and cardioprotective, antidiabetic and anticancer effects.
Overall, beetroot is richer in most nutrients and is better studied as a functional food. However, both vegetables are packed in nutrients and have various beneficial effects on health, so the final decision depends on personal choice and circumstance.
Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in glycemic index|
|Lower in price|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Rich in minerals|
|Lower in Cholesterol||Equal|
|Rich in vitamins||Equal|
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet|
|Low glycemic index diet|
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