Horseradish is thought to have originated in Southern Europe and Western Asia. It is used mainly in cooking and has medicinal applications. It’s a cruciferous vegetable, like mustard, wasabi, cabbage, broccoli, and kale. It has a long, white root and green leaves.
When the root is cut, an enzyme breaks down a compound called sinigrin into a mustard oil. This oil, known as allyl isothiocyanate, gives horseradish its telltale odor and taste and may irritate your eyes, nose, and throat.
Allyl isothiocyanate has antibacterial properties. Studies suggest that it may fight dangerous bacteria, including E. coli, H. pylori, and Salmonella. One test-tube study noted that isothiocyanates extracted from horseradish root killed six types of oral bacteria. Another test-tube study found that these isothiocyanates prevented the growth of four types of fungi that may lead to chronic nail infections.
Sinigrin, the oil released, is a glucosinolate, a sulfur-containing compound found in cruciferous vegetables. Glucosinolates are know to fight against infections, and brain diseases. Glucosinolates and isothiocyanates in horseradish may also protect against cancer by inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, as well as promoting their death. Test-tube studies suggest that horseradish compounds may prevent the growth of colon, lung, and stomach cancer. Peroxidase, an enzyme found in this root, helps activate and boost a powerful anticancer compound that targets human pancreatic cancer cells.
Sinigrin helps to reduce inflammation by blocking or changing the parts of the immune system that cause inflammation. These same studies suggest that sinigrin could help relieve symptoms of atherosclerosis.
The health benefits of horseradish are mainly attributed to its high nutrient and mineral content, which include dietary fiber, vitamin C, folate, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and manganese.
Horseradish is packed withwhich boost the strength of the immune system and stimulate the activity and production of white blood cells, the body’s line of defense. The vitamin C content of horseradish fights free radicals. Sinigrin, may also act as an antioxidants and fight cell damage caused by free radicals.
Horseradish is low in calories and high on fiber.
Horseradish is cholagogue which is an agent that spurs the release of bile from theand promotes healthy digestion.
Horseradish has a diuretic quality that stimulates urination. This is good for a number of reasons, including the regular release of toxins from the body, cleanliness of the kidney, and a reduction in weight, since 4 percent of urine is actually composed of body fat!
Consuming horseradish is known to cause a burning sensation in your sinuses, nose, and throat. For that reason, it’s often used to relieve colds and breathing issues. One study in over 1,500 people found that a supplement containing 80 mg of dried horseradish root and 200 mg of nasturtium was as effective as a traditional antibiotic at treating acute sinus infections and bronchitis.
Taking a strong sniff or inhalation of pure horseradish can clear out congestion developed due to a cold, illness, or allergy.
Horseradish is quite high in sodium and sugar. Although it is usually consumed in small amounts, it is still important to remember that sodium can be detrimental to people struggling withand obesity. Also, because horseradish is slightly diuretic, it can exacerbate problems for people with kidney disorders. It may be especially bothersome to people with stomach ulcers, digestive issues, or inflammatory bowel disease.
Horseradish is actually poisonous to horses!
How to Buy
Fresh horseradish root is available year-round in most markets, but prime season is in spring. The roots are usually sold in 2-inch long sections (although the whole root can range up to 20 inches), measuring 1 to 2 inches in diameter. Choose roots that are firm and have no mold, soft or green spots. Older roots will look shriveled and dry. They may even begin to sprout. These are to be avoided.
Bottled prepared horseradish is readily available in the refrigerated condiment section of grocery stores. Prepared horseradish is preserved in vinegar and salt. The red variety uses beet juice.
Dried horseradish is also available in many markets. It must be reconstituted with water or other liquid before using.
How to Store
Store horseradish root unwashed in a reusable silicone bag in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator. It begins to dry up as soon as it is cut, so try to use it within a week or two for fullest flavor. Once it is cut or grated, used within a few days unless you preserve it in vinegar.
Prepared horseradish will last up to 3 months in the refrigerator. However, it quickly loses pungency and is best used within 3 to 4 weeks. When it begins to turn dark, it is time to toss it. Freezing of prepared horseradish is not recommended.
How to Cook
Horseradish is mostly used as a condiment.
It’s typically consumed as prepared horseradish, which is made from the grated root, plus vinegar, sugar, and salt. Horseradish sauce, another popular garnish, adds sour cream or mayo to the mix.
Peel fresh horseradish, then slice it. Fresh horseradish can be boiled, sautéed, or grilled. It pairs well with other root vegetables, including beets and potatoes, as well as with broccoli or Brussels sprouts.