Have you ever tasted a roast beef sandwich and thought your nose was on fire? The sandwich probably contained some horseradish, originating from the same family as mustard. It is quite well-known for its strong and sharp flavour. Horseradish has been used to treat a number of ailments and health problems since centuries. It’s pungent, spicy taste is famous – or perhaps infamous. But, prepared correctly, it not only adds a special extra zest to your food, but brings with it numerous health benefits. Horseradish root is most widely used as a condiment in fish or meat dishes and sandwiches. The intact roots of this plant hardly have any aroma but on being cut or grated, enzymes from the broken plant cells break down into sinigrin to produce allyl isothiocyanate (mustard oil). Exposure to air darkens the grated mash, causing it to lose its pungency and become unpleasantly bitter in taste. Besides its various culinary uses, it is also beneficial for your health in a number of ways.
Horseradish Health Benefits:
Scientific research over the years has proved that horseradish offers several health benefits. In fact, it has been used since ancient times for treating a number of ailments. Some of its common health benefits are given below.
1. Protects Against Cancer:
The roots of horseradish contain high amounts of glucosinolates which lower the risk of certain types of cancer. This compound boosts the ability of the liver to detoxify carcinogens which may potentially cause tumors. Besides preventing the formation of new tumors, glucosinolates also block the growth of tumors that may already be existing within the body. They are powerful antibiotics that relieve infections by stimulating blood flow to the affected area and eliminating waste products. Glucosinolates and derivatives provide protection against colon and rectal cancers. Processed horseradish provides greater anti-cancer benefits.
2. Treatment of Sinus Infections:
Sinus infection is caused due to the accumulation of mucus in the sinuses, which creates a hospitable environment for bad bacteria to thrive in and is quite painful. The volatile compounds present in horseradish prevent this accumulation by thinning out old mucus. Thus, if you are prone to sinus and upper respiratory tract infections, you can take half a teaspoon of horseradish sauce in the morning and noon and stay for at least 10 minutes after use without food or drink. This will immediately clear the sinuses. Horseradish also relieves the symptoms of influenza, colds and congestion. Horseradish flour paste can be applied over the chest to cure congestion.
3. Treatment of Urinary Tract Infections:
The antibiotic and diuretic properties of horseradish stimulate the production of urine. This vegetable contains certain chemicals which impart antibiotic effects in the bladder. Certain enzymes present in it prevent toxin accumulation, thus speeding up the flushing out of bacteria and other inflammatory agents present in the bladder. A glycoside called “sinigrin” in horseradish has a stimulating effect on blood capillaries, thus relieving water retention. In this way, it can cure urinary tract infections and remove kidney stones by detoxifying the system.
4. Pain Relief:
Horseradish can relieve pain by stimulating blood flow to the surface of the skin and beneath. Thus, it can be applied to swollen joints and muscles for pain relief. When massaged over the affected parts of the body, it can relieve the symptoms of gout, arthritis and chilblains.
5. Dental Health:
The intense stimulating effects of horseradish can help in treating paradontosis when chewed. Chewing the roots of horseradish acts as a natural medicine to cure toothache, strengthen your gums and treat scurvy. Since grated horseradish is too spicy, you can mix it with grated carrot to make it more palatable.
6. Beneficial for Stomach:
Gargling with a mixture of 3 to 4 spoons horseradish and half a glass of water can help in alleviating stomatitis. The phytochemicals in horseradish stimulate salivary glands, and gastric and intestinal glands, thus enabling the secretion of digestive enzymes and aiding in digestion. It has also been found to increase appetite. If you are suffering from indigestion, you can grate horseradish and squeeze out the juice. Take around 20 drops of this juice in between meals for relief. However, horseradish should be avoided in cases of peptic ulcer, hyper acid gastritis or hypothyroidism as it might augment these conditions.
7. Boosts the Immune System:
Horseradish has a high content of vitamin C which is a powerful antioxidant. It treats viral infections and boosts immunity. It prevents inflammation and infection by removing the harmful free radicals from the body. Thus, eating horseradish stimulates your immune system by heating up the body internally.
8. Good for Heart:
Horseradish also contains potassium, which helps control blood pressure and heart rate.