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Horseradish Health Benefits

Horseradish is a plant native to Asia and South East Europe. It belongs to the same family as broccoli, cabbage, wasabi, and mustard and is cultivated mainly for its large tapered root. Horseradish has been used to treat a number of ailments and health problems since centuries.

The health benefits of horseradish have been known for centuries. The roots were once chewed to reduce toothaches and as a treatment for scurvy. Today, horseradish can benefit health in the following ways:
  • Sinus – If you are prone to colds and sinusitis, incorporating horseradish in your diet or taking horseradish supplements can be beneficial.
    Horseradish can cure sinus infections by thinning out mucous that is clogging the nasal passages. This makes it easier for the body to get rid of it and reduces the discomfort associated with sinus infections. If you feel a cold coming on, taking a horseradish capsule for a few days is highly recommended.
  • UTI – The antibiotic properties of horseradish make it an ideal home remedy for Urinary Tract Infections. Horseradish can prevent toxins from accumulating in the bladder as well as help eliminate the toxins by encouraging urination.
  • Digestion – The volatile phytochemical compounds that are responsible for its pungency and flavor works as a powerful stimulant for the appetite. Adding small amounts of the root to your meals can also aid the digestive process as it causes the intestines and stomach to secrete more digestive enzymes.
  • Asthma – Horsradish contains glucosinolates that have strong antioxidant, expectorant, and anti-bacterial properties. Respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis, as well as allergies can be treated with the proper usage of horseradish. Horseradish can also be used as an external rub to reduce chest congestion or as a tea (made from the root) to treat respiratory problems.
  • Arthritis - Due to the vitamin C and calcium content in horseradish, problems with bones and joints such as arthritis find relief from painful symptoms. Vitamin C is essential for repairing bones and forming cartilage and tendons. The vitamin C in horseradish is also responsible for the production of collagen in the body, which ultimately translates into healthier bones and joints. Grated roots made into a poultice and applied directly to the skin can prevent swelling of joints and muscular pain.
  • Cholesterol – The presence of iron and potassium in horseradish makes it an essential addition to treatment for high blood pressure, cholesterol and heart problems. Iron maintains healthy red blood cell production and improves circulation.
  • Cancer – Research is being conducted on the efficacy of horseradish and the treatment of certain types of cancer. It is believed that the high amounts of glucosinolates found in horseradish can help lower your risk of cancer as they can prevent tumors from forming or from growing further.
There are several health and nutritional benefits of horseradish:
  • It is low in calories and contains no fat.
  • Additionally, it is high in dietary fiber and chock full of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
  • A single 3 ounce serving of horseradish provides you with protein and carbohydrates.
  • The horseradish plant also contains phytochemicals. These are volatile compounds that contribute to its spicy taste and flavor. These compounds are also important for their detox and antioxidant properties.
  • Horseradish is a good source of vitamin C. 100 grams of fresh horseradish root provides you with nearly 41% of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C.
  • There are moderate traces of minerals such as iron, copper, sodium, potassium, manganese, magnesium, and zinc.
  • The root has small amounts of vitamins such as niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and folate.
Horseradish root can be used in a variety of sauces, dips, dressing, salads, and meat, chicken and seafood dishes. Even though horseradish is low in calories, it is rarely eaten on its own. When counting calories, you will have to take into consideration all the ingredients in the recipes in which the horseradish is used.

Horseradish Supplements

Horseradish supplements are also available from health foods stores. Due to its many health benefits, it is recommended that you take one capsule twice or thrice a day at mealtimes. The best horseradish supplements should consist of only plant based or natural materials. Ensure that the ingredients do not list any fillers, yeast, grains, starches, sugars, or synthetic materials for the best results. Always check with your doctor before starting any herbal treatment or new supplement. Pregnant or breastfeeding women or young children should not use Horseradish root supplements. People who suffer from ulcers, kidney or thyroid problems should also avoid horseradish supplements as they can aggravate symptoms of the condition. An overdose of horseradish supplements can lead to nausea, vomiting, excessive sweating or diarrhea. There are no known drug interactions with horseradish supplements as of date.

Side Effects Of Horseradish

  • The volatile compounds in horseradish, that are responsible for its pungent flavor and fragrance can irritate delicate or sensitive areas of the body. If horseradish is not handled carefully or is consumed excessively, the mucous membranes of the mouth, eyes, stomach, intestine and urinary tract can get irritated and inflamed.
  • If horseradish is applied directly to the skin it can also result in eruptions or blistering.
  • Another effect on health is an upset stomach. An overdose of horseradish can lead to nausea, vomiting (with blood), diarrhea and stomach pain. If you suffer from ulcers, horseradish should be avoided at all costs.
  • Similarly, if you suffer from any problems with the thyroid, you should check with your doctor before using horseradish in any form. Horseradish can affect functioning of the thyroid by interfering with the production of hormones causing hormone levels to reduce further.
  • Studies show that horseradish can cause a miscarriage or even induce an abortion due to the presence of certain toxic chemicals. Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should stay away from horseradish.
  • People with kidney problems should avoid horseradish due to the root’s diuretic effect.
Information & Facts

It is also used as a healing agent in Native American and European cultures. Today, horseradish is largely treated as a condiment and is used to add flavor to several different dishes.

Horseradish has fleshy, long beige colored roots. Before using horseradish, you must clean the root to remove any surface dirt. Rinse the root in running water and pat it dry. Cut off small portions of the root at a time and use as an ingredient while cooking. You can store horseradish root in a plastic bag, in the refrigerator as this prevents it from drying out.

The spicy and pungent flavor of horseradish is only realized once the root is grated or crushed. This releases the volatile compounds that can cause an irritation in the eyes, skin and nose if not handled carefully. Horseradish tends to lose its fragrance and flavor soon after grating. It is therefore added to cooked preparations only at the final stage or grated just before serving. You can retain the potency of horseradish by grating the root and storing it in a mix of white vinegar and table salt.
Submitted on January 16, 2014