When something like horseradish instantly clears your sinuses, you might think to yourself – can something spicy like this be good for me – or bad for me? Is horseradish healthy or should you be concerned that you like it too much!?!
What are the health benefits of eating horseradish and what should you be concerned about? But first, we should discuss just exactly what horseradish is and how it is prepared. These two factors have a big impact on whether you should consider horseradish a healthy food.
First, horseradish is a root vegetable that comes from the mustard plant family, along with other plants like broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.
Secondly, “basic prepared horseradish” is what you normally would buy in a jar at the grocery store. Since the root itself is relatively flavorless until it’s chopped up or grated, they do all that work for you. But a chopped or grated piece of horseradish root is very pungent and spicy (more to the sinuses than to the tastebuds), so vinegar is added (along with some salt) to stabilize the heat. If you choose to use the raw root itself, like if you grow the vegetable in your garden, then you can add salt and vinegar to it yourself once you mince the root. The enzymes released from the crushed and grated root cells are called “isothiocyanate” and another chemical called “sinigrin.”
Since horseradish comes from the mustard plant family, we can deduce several things. That plant family is also considered “cruciferous vegetables,” which means they have cancer fighting compounds in them. Cruciferous vegetables are cool weather veggies, and their four leaves helped give them their name – based on a “crucifix” or cross shape. However, cruciferous vegetables are now often referred to as “brassica” vegetables, which translates to “cabbage” in Latin.
Is Horseradish Healthy?
While the horseradish root is usually what most people eat, the horseradish leaves are often used in salads, too. They have health-supportive molecules like glucosinolates, that are concentrated in their leaves.
Prepared horseradish has plenty of health benefits, like calcium, dietary fiber, folate, magnesium, potassium, Vitamin C and zinc.
Some of those health benefits include antioxidant characteristics that boost your immune system and stimulate the production of more white blood cells. These same components help strengthen your body’s defense against free radicals, too!
The glucosinate and sinigrin inhibits the mutation of healthy cells into cancerous cells, and they are continually flushing out the cancer-causing free radicals.
Also, since prepared horseradish has just six or seven calories per serving, with no fat, this is a great weight-loss weapon that should be used as a big-flavor condiment. It also has Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, along with tons of fiber and protein. Adding horseradish to your foods will help you feel satisfied, and it will reduce the chances of you overeating.
Is horseradish healthy? Of course it is! With antioxidants and important fatty acids, the healthy benefits include weight loss, stronger bones, stronger immune systems, healthy digestive system, heart health and lower blood pressure.