Health benefits of horseradish (scientific name Armoracia rusticana) are rooted in history. It is said to have been around for at least around 3,000 years . It was called ‘redcole’ in England and ‘stingnose’ in U.S. and by several other names locally . The famous ‘wasabi’ is a kind of Japanese horseradish with stronger flavor and delicate flesh. Horseradish is said to have originated in western Asia and south-eastern Europe and belongs to the same family as that of mustard. It can withstand lower temperatures as well as droughts and can grow in both shaded and warm places. Humus rich alkaline soils and cool climates with good sunlight are ideal for the growth of horseradish. It doesn’t grow in sandy soil . The part of horseradish that is consumed widely is the long and thick pulpy yellowy roots which are spicy in taste even though the green is also edible.
Why is Horseradish beneficial?
Health benefits of horseradish range from the medicinal and curative effects to aphrodisiacal properties . A teaspoon of horseradish corresponds to just 2 calories. It is low in sodium and high in dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Essential vitamins such as folate, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid are also present in horseradish . It also contains high amount of potassium, sulfur and calcium. Horseradish has been used to treat several diseases from ancient times and almost all its parts are found to be of some medicinal value . Horse radish in the canned form and known plainly as horse radish or as ‘prepared horseradish’ is available throughout the year.
Health benefits of horseradish
Health benefits of horseradish include the properties such as being an antibiotic, bronchodilator, expectorant, coronary vasodilator, antianemic, antriparasitic, diuretic, antiscorbutic and many more. It is also said to increase appetite. Some health benefits of horseradish are detailed below.
Benefits against cancer : Horseradish contains almost 10 times the amount of glucosinolates contained in broccoli which is considered very rich in glucosinolates, a compound which boosts the ability of liver to detoxify carcinogens and suppress tumor growth. Studies have found that glucosinolates and derivatives can provide protection against colon and rectal cancers. They also improve the activity of certain liver enzymes that aid detoxification . Horseradish when processed is even found to improve anti-cancer benefits.
Effective against sinusitis : Horseradish sauce and juice when taken undiluted is said to be effective in treating sinusitis. This home remedy advocates use of half teaspoonful of sauce in the morning and noon and then staying without food or drinks for at least ten minutes after use. It is said to immediately clear the sinuses. A mixture when placed on forehead can immediately relieve congestion in rhinitis.
Treats urinary tract infections : Horseradish chemicals when concentrated in urine are found to impart antibiotic effects in the bladder. Certain specific enzymes which prevent toxin accumulation in the bladder are also activated. Urine elimination is stimulated thus speeding up the flushing out of bacteria and other inflammatory agents present in bladder. Horseradish contains a glycoside called sinigrin which has a stimulating effect on blood capillaries and in turns relieves water retention.
Relieves pain : Horseradish can stimulate blood flow to the surface of the skin and beneath. This makes it effective in massaging to relieve pains and aches. It can also treat painful arthritic joints and chronic rheumatism.
Relieves chest congestion : When externally rubbed, horseradish is found to be effective in relieving chest congestion . It is effective against bronchitis, lung congestion and flu . Horseradish syrup is also recommended for asthma and other breathing disorders.
Benefits to stomach : When a mixture containing 3 to 4 spoons horseradish and half a glass of water is gargled, it can help in alleviating stomatitis. Horseradish contains phytochemicals which stimulate salivary glands and gastric and intestinal glands enabling the secretion of digestive enzymes and thus aiding digestion. This is also found to increase appetite .
Benefit to gums : Horseradish has intense stimulating effects and hence when chewed can help in treating paradontosis. Horseradish can be mixed with certain things like carrots to lessen the spiciness.
Improves immunity : Vitamin C content is high in horseradish and this antioxidant treats viral infections and boosts immunity. It also removes the free radicals that are harmful to the body thus preventing inflammation and infection.
Benefits to heart : Potassium in horseradish helps control blood pressure and heart rate .
Benefit to hairHorseradish vinegar mixture is found to be effective in the treatment of dandruff.
Other benefits : Horseradish helps in soothing nerves. It contains iron that aids cellular metabolism. Iron is also required for production of red blood cells in bone marrow.It is also identified to be beneficial in diabetes.
Usage, selection and storage
How to Make Horseradish Sauce!
Horseradish is grated and then mixed with vinegar and salt for use to get a milder flavor. Since horseradish loses flavor quickly on exposure, it is grated and added to dishes just before consumption. In order to use the roots, surface dirt is removed using moist cloth or in cold water. This is mopped dry before storing in the refrigerator.
Freshest horseradish is available in late autumn when it is harvested. Fresh and hard roots devoid of molds, soft spots and sprouts should be selected. Green-tinged roots should be avoided as they will be bitter and over mature roots will be excessively fibrous and out of flavor. Horseradish when stored in refrigerator will remain without spoiling for around 6 to 9 months.
When not to use Horseradish
Horseradish releases a gas that causes irritation to eyes, skin and mucus membranes while chopping, grating and crushing. Wearing protective gloves or mask and using a blender or mixer can help . Those who are suffering from goitrous problems, gastric ulcer or kidney diseases may avoid consuming horseradish. Children below 4 years should also not be given horseradish.
Health benefits of horseradish have been recognized from time immemorial. It is now also supported by modern scientific evidence. This makes it ideal to be used as a health food.