Benefits of horseradish: benefits, tips and recipes
First horseradish fact of the day: the horses do not eat it. And the second: it can bring many health benefits to humans.
This tangy cruciferous vegetable is not only an acquired taste at your table, but it also swims directly in compounds and nutrients that could provide you with a whole range of well-being body enhancers.
So, are you ready to find out why people have used horseradish for its potential medicinal properties since the days of the Ancient greeks? Good. Let’s go!
Here is the science behind the benefits of humble horseradish.
Cancer kills more than half a million people in the United States each year. It’s no surprise that anything that could help stop the Big C is rocking scientists. Enter the horseradish.
Horseradish is a cruciferous vegetable. This means that it belongs to the same family of vegetables as broccoli, cabbage, kale, sprouts, and cauliflower. A 2015 study have found that certain chemicals in cruciferous vegetables can inhibit the genetic ability of a cancer cell to grow.
The prevention of carcinogenesis (the birth of cancer cells) is also important in the cancer crusade. An earlier study in 2008 discovered that isothiocyanates, derived from the breakdown of glucosinolates (a compound found in cruciferous vegetables) like our humble horseradish, can also do this.
Glucosinolates and isothiocyanates are phytochemicals. These are chemical compounds that plants make to protect themselves from germs. It turns out that these compounds may also be good at protecting people from cancer. Current research is inconclusive, but what we have so far looks promising.
Research of 2020 found that there was a 52% reduced risk of breast cancer in women who ate a diet high in root vegetables (i.e. high in glucosinolates and isothiocyanates) compared to women who did not had none. However, the study itself admits that the evidence is not yet strong enough to put our cancer prevention hopes on cruciferous vegetables.
Some test tube studies the use of horseradish compounds has revealed that they * might * also stop the growth of colon, lung and stomach cancer. Horseradish provides the enzyme peroxidase. Numerous studies have shown that peroxidase can be very useful in inducing cell death in breast cancer cells and peroxidase in combination with indole-3 acetic acid to induce cell death in pancreatic cancer cells.
Peroxidase is effective to return the bird to cancer. For this reason, scientists are try to make nanoparticles who act like that. That’s a hell of a good endorsement right there.
When you cut horseradish, it releases an oil called allyl isothiocyanate. A 2018 study (as well as previous studies like this one since 2009) discovered that this oil may have actions against harmful bacteria, including Escherichia coli (E. coli), Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori), and Salmonella.
Other studies have confirmed bacteria’s reputation for denigrating isothiocyanates. A 2013 study on isothiocyanates extracted from horseradish has shown that it again has an action on six different types of oral bacteria. That’s a pretty impressive body count.
Scientists are still not exactly sure How? ‘Or’ What isothiocyanates work. It is believed that they could use enzymes to reduce the growth and multiplication of certain bacterial cells or damage the DNA of bacterial cells.
But the mechanisms they use to do this remain a mystery that researchers are in the middle of trying to resolve.
Everyone loves to breathe. This is why colds are so bad: they make breathing no fun at all.
Horseradish is notoriously spicy. A little horseradish burns a lot, misting your nose and sinuses as well as your throat. Do you know the wasabi you get at your favorite sushi restaurant? The kind Steve-O sniffed at in one of the “Jackass” movies? This little green pea is actually horseradish with green dye.
People have used the unique spiciness of horseradish as cold remedy since ancient times. The pungent smell of horseradish has long had a reputation for moving phlegm when you’re stuffy.
There is also solid scientific data to back this up. A 2006 study of people taking a horseradish / nasturtium combo have found it to be as effective as an antibiotic in treating bronchitis and acute sinus infections.
That’s right, 2006 is a long time ago. Also, it’s not clear whether the effect was due to horseradish or nasturtium, and more research needs to be done before we can wave our “Horseradish will stop your sniffles” flag.
But when you consider that in 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) sees the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria as a global threat to health and development, revisiting previous research on horseradish may be helpful in managing bronchitis if drugs like amoxicillin stop having the desired effect.
As always, speak with your doctor before deciding whether or not to take horseradish (or any herbal supplement) versus a prescribed antibiotic.
Horseradish is a member of the mustard family (not related to Colonel Mustard from “Clue”). Mustards contain the compound sinigrin (a glucosinolate). A 2017 study concluded that if scientists tinkered with sinigrin a bit, it * could * form the basis of an anti-inflammatory drug.
According to the study, sinigrin suppresses white blood cells (especially macrophages) that trigger inflammation in your body when threatened. Inflammation can lead to health problems because these cells react too much or too quickly in some people (for example, people living with Crohn’s disease).
Manner, manner, more research is needed. But it’s possible that a little horseradish in your diet will help your body’s defenses relax a bit.
It’s not only helpful for digestive disorders, either. A Study 2020 found that sinigrin was very effective in suppressing asthmatic inflammation in guinea pigs (real guinea pigs – not just humans who participated in an experiment).
While some guinea pigs look great with hats, just like some people, that doesn’t mean the results will last. But since millions of people around the world live with asthma, that’s pretty darn cool to know. But let’s keep the hype until studies replicate these effects in humans.
Antioxidants have been all the rage for ages. That’s why so many of you are probably happy to learn that horseradish may contain strong antioxidant potential.
In 2014, a group of Italian cooking nerds decided to test horseradish to see if it was actually an antioxidant. Horseradish has so much antioxidant capacity that in 2020, other researchers have found that it might be worth planting a bunch of horseradish to soak up arsenic and other pollutants from bad soil.
Obviously, you are a human being, not an unusable patch of contaminated soil. However, research at least partially supports horseradish’s claim to antioxidant fame.
This is probably due to the phytocompounds contained in the thick root boots of horseradish. Phytochemicals have a long-standing reputation as powerful antioxidants – enough that scientific bodies study them for their potential in the treatment of chronic diseases.
Do you know those glucosinolates that hang around in horseradish? These are phytochemicals, baby. With a little more research, horseradish could still prove to be an antioxidant powerhouse.
Have you heard of a cholagogue? Well, now you have it. It’s an obscure term for a group of foods that stimulate the gallbladder. This allows it to release bile, a key ingredient for good digestion.
While they don’t specifically focus on horseradish, some studies have shown that bile ducts like this can be quite effective in managing conditions such as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
Much more research needs to be done to demonstrate and prove the relationship between horseradish and healthy digestion. But horseradish contains enzymes that stimulate vital digestive functions like bile production and stool.
First of all, horseradish is a condiment – and a little goes a long way. It is, as we said, Hello spice. It normally comes in a jar containing grated horseradish root and a little vinegar, salt and sugar. You can also find horseradish sauce, which is the one above with sour cream or mayonnaise in a rush.
As for the pairing, you’ll get the most out of your horseradish by serving it with meat or fish (or, if you eat vegetarian / vegan, your favorite alternative). And pals who prefer to drink their condiments will get a kick out of the horseradish tea.
Those fans of horseradish of the Jewish faith will be delighted to know that they can just wait until Passover, as it is part of the traditional Seder meal as maror – Hebrew for bitter herb.
“Buy a jar of horseradish and eat it with protein” is a basic tip, but you might want to take it to the next level. Don’t worry, we’ve found some horseradish-friendly recipes that will send your tongue straight to Flavor Town, no need for Guy Fieri:
Horseradish is a cruciferous root vegetable that various cultures around the world have been eating for thousands of years. During this time, it gained a reputation for its medicinal benefits.
We are now at a point in history where science is beginning to find measurable truths in the anecdotal legend of horseradish health foods. These include cancer prevention and antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. There are also possible respiratory and digestive benefits that need to be further explored.
Much more research (and clinical trials) is needed before anyone can say for sure what horseradish is used for and to what extent. There is also no evidence that excessive horseradish consumption is bad for you, but it could be because no human has been the canary in this particular coal mine yet. We don’t recommend trying to be the first.
Horseradish is usually served as a condiment, but there are plenty of recipes if you want to cook with it. You can also drink it in tea.
Finally, despite the name, horses don’t even like or eat horseradish. The whole name is a massive lie and possibly the biggest conspiracy of our time.