Said to originate from Southeastern Europe and Western Asia, horseradish is a root vegetable belonging to the same plant family of mustard, wasabi, broccoli, kale and cabbage. It is used for its pungent and spicy taste as a condiment in many dishes. Cultivated from its white root, it can grow to about 4.9 feet.
When the root is cut, it is grated and preserved in salt and vinegar. However, when exposed to air and heat, horseradish turns dark in color and tastes bitter.
In America, grated horseradish is used as a sauce in salad dressings and in sandwich spreads. It is also an ingredient in many cocktails. Horseradish cream is served as a side dressing to steak when mixed with sour cream. When the enzyme in the plant breaks down, the compound sinigrin is transformed into mustard oil that has many health benefits.
A popular Japanese condiment called wasabi is often confused with horseradish since both are pungent in nature. With decline in the growth of wasabi plant, horseradish paste tends to be mixed with green foods to be sold as wasabi. Due to the several natural compounds and rich nutritional profile present in horseradish, there are many health benefits according to Healthline. These health benefits are the following:
Horseradish is eaten in small amounts as a condiment, hence 15 grams or one tablespoon has sufficient minerals and compounds with low calories. One teaspoon contain only 7 calories, less than 1 gram of protein, fiber and fat, and 2 grams of carbohydrates. Some of the minerals found in horseradish are magnesium, potassium, calcium, folate and several healthy plant compounds.
The plant compounds, glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, have anticancer properties and prevent the growth of cancer cells. Another compound, sinigrin, is an antioxidant that fights free radicals that could compromise immune system function and even lead to cancer. Horseradish peroxidase (HRP) is a beneficial enzyme that is also present in the plant and stimulates the anticancer compounds, which can reduce growth of pancreatic cancer cells.
Contains Antibacterial Properties
Mustard oil goes by the chemical name allyl isothiocyanate, which is the oil released from cutting the root of the plant, has several antibacterial properties. According to studies it has been proven to fight E. coli, H pylori and salmonella.
Relieves Respiratory Ailments
Consuming horseradish can relieve colds and breathing issues since it leads to a burning sensation in the sinuses, nose and throat, though more research needs to be done. Caution is advised to people suffering from ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome and other digestive issues, when consumed in excess.