Is your first response to hearing the word horseradish “yuck”? I hope note, for we often take this popular condiment for granted, not realizing how many health benefits it can provide. In fact, after researching about horseradish benefits, I firmly believe it should become your new condiment of choice.
Horseradish is a root vegetable that’s most commonly used as a spice. Known mostly for its strong flavor, when prepared it becomes a popular topping for meat and fish.
The entire horseradish plant has a long history in folk medicine and can help prevent and treat a number of common ailments. It falls into the category of a cruciferous vegetable, which are known for their plant compounds called glucosinolates. Because of these compounds, horseradish can help prevent cancer, fight off illness and disease with antioxidants, and provide a healthy mix of vitamins and minerals to help supplement a healthy diet.
With so many unhealthy condiments out there, it’s hard to find something to flavor your favorite sandwiches and meats without adding extra calories and less-than healthy ingredients. After reading about this amazing root, you’ll want to make horseradish your new go-to topping, as well as a regular part of your health regimen.
7 Major Health Benefits of Horseradish Root
1. Can Help Prevent Cancer
Glucosinolate compounds found in horseradish are responsible for their spicy flavor and are powerful in the fight against cancer. In the plant world, glucosinolates protect plants from toxic or harsh environments. Well, guess what? Horseradish has 10 times more glucosinolates than broccoli, so even in small amounts, you’re getting a lot of benefits.
Numerous studies, including one from the University of Illinois, have shown examples of horseradish helping to make the human body more resistant to cancer. Other studies showed preliminary evidence of horseradish being able to invoke cell death in human breast and colon cancer cells, as well as prevent oxidative damage linked to free radicals.
As more research surfaces, the possibilities of using glucosinolates as chemopreventive agents are expanding. One study also showed that processing and preparing the root actually increases its anticancer abilities (which is very uncommon with vegetables), so cutting and grinding for preparation is completely okay!
2. Antioxidant Power
Free radicals can do major damage to the body, and consuming higher diets of antioxidant-rich foods can help eliminate or prevent this damage. Horseradish root has a number of phytocompounds, which are antioxidants and beneficial to human health.
Some of the antioxidants found in horseradish are antimutagenic, which means it protects parts of the body from mutagens that can permanently harm them. There is evidence that mutations are to blame for heart disease and other common degenerative disorders. Another study showed that extracts including horseradish were able to decrease DNA damage cause by zeocin, an antibiotic known to induce oxidative stress.
3. Antimicrobial and Antibacterial
The oil responsible for the pungent taste of horseradish (as well as mustard and wasabi) is called allyl isothiocyanate, or mustard oil. This colorless oil is a known antimicrobial against a wide spectrum of pathogens. Many studies show the profound antimicrobial and antibacterial capabilities of horseradish root.
There was a study done using horseradish essential oil to preserve roast beef and prevent spoilage. The beef with the added horseradish restricted the growth of most of the bacteria that would cause it to spoil. Horseradish root also has positive effects on phagocytes, which are a type of cell in the body that engulf and absorb bacteria. A study in mice showed the horseradish enhanced antimicrobial functions of phagocytes, which helps to fight off infection and illness.
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