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Can radishes reduce cardiovascular disease risk?

The research has focused on the giant Japanese radish, and whether consuming this vegetable each day confers any benefit in terms of protecting a person against the risk of heart disease. The radish is the Sakurajima daikon, a special cultivar of the Japanese radish named for its original place of cultivation. the study of this radish was undertaken at Kagoshima University.

The radish (Raphanus raphanistrum subsp. sativus) is a common root vegetable, grown and consumed throughout the world. The vegetable is generally eaten raw as a crunchy salad vegetable. Radishes vary in size, flavor, and color. Radishes are known for their sharp flavor, which relates to certain chemical compounds like glucosinolate, myrosinase, and isothiocyanate. The vegetable contains moderate amounts of vitamin C .

For the study, as Biotechniques reports, the scientists showed how exposure of human and pig endothelial cells to extracts of the giant Japanese radish induced higher levels of nitric oxide production compared with other Japanese radishes. This was demonstrated using fluorescence microscopy.

The reason why nitric oxide levels are of interest is because this substance is a key regulator of coronary blood vessel function. Prior to the study, it had been established that radishes in general are strong sources of antioxidants and the radish has been associated with potentially lowering high blood pressure. .

The study revealed the active compound in the giant radish to be a hormone called trigonelline. The function of this hormone initiates a cascade of changes within coronary blood vessels, leading to improved nitric oxide production. It is important to point out that the studies undertaken relate to cells in a laboratory; additional study will be required to determine of the effect is seen with real humans.

The research outcomes are published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. The study is called “Elucidating the Improvement in Vascular Endothelial Function from Sakurajima Daikon and Its Mechanism of Action: A Comparative Study with Raphanus sativus.”

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Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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