Health Benefits of Horseradish

Posted 5 months ago by Prakhar Parihar in

If you are familiar with horseradish you must have guessed that it has nothing to do with radish or horses. It is actually a plant with strong properties which belongs to the Brassicaceae family of plants whose some other members are mustard, wasabi, cabbage, and broccoli. This plant, which is growing in popularity as a healthy condiment, has a powerful and pungent flavor along with a sort of heat which radiates throughout the body. This wonderful plant makes for a great condiment goes along great with meats and seafood like fish and shrimps

Health Benefits of Horseradish

However, it does not have to be just limited to those, its unique hot flavor profile, lends it to use in a variety of dishes and salads. It can be easily used in grated forms and using it fresh is the best way. This terrific plant holds many health benefits for the body and has been in use or thousands of years in folk medicine across various civilizations and regions. This plant originated from Western Asia and Southeastern Europe but now has spread all over the world. Its root is grated and then mixed with vinegar[1] and then it is commonly used in cooking directly. It goes great with tons of things like eggs[2], mashed potatoes[3], salads[4], juices, etc. Horseradish[5] root is a versatile culinary ingredient which can add a flair to a variety of dishes while also providing multiple health benefits to all areas of your body. Even ancient empires of Greece and Egypt knew of its medicinal properties and used it for treatments of various ailments. The heat provided by it was useful to ease muscle pains[6] and it was used for that purpose by greek healers. It was a very valuable commodity in those days. The properties which made it so valuable have not gone anywhere and it could also supply you with tons of nutrition and unique benefits which are found rarely in natural sources.

Health Benefits of Horseradish

Nowadays, we are aware of many significant benefits to health it provides, the most important of which is cancer prevention[7]. Along with helping to prevent cancer, it helps improve your immunity, help with weight loss, improve sinus and respiratory conditions, and much more. It has so many significant properties and benefits and the source of these is the plethora of nutrients and minerals it has. It holds important essential nutrients like Vitamin C[8], potassium[9], calcium[10], magnesium[11], folate[12], zinc[13], fiber and many other crucial chemical compounds like oils and enzymes, for instance, it contains mustard [14] oil which can help kill off viruses. It contains a powerful glucosinolate called Sinigrin which is instrumental in the prevention of Cancer. Due to all these useful nutrients and compounds for the body, Horseradish has strong antimicrobial, antiseptic, diuretic, antioxidant, spasmolytic, stimulant, and cytotoxic properties. It also acts as a mild antibiotic. The fragrance of horseradish is also really great for clearing up the sinuses. It can help get rid of mucus in sinuses and help cure a variety of respiratory issues like sinusitis. It's strong anti-bacterial properties also does the body a lot of good and it is especially good for fighting off Urinary Tract Infection[15]. It is so beneficial that its long term use will do wonders for your health, it will help keep you healthier overall, preventing many sicknesses by keeping your immune system strong, also preventing fatal diseases like cancer, and helping to keep your body fit and in top shape by aiding in weight loss too. Now, let us look at each of these benefits, and more, in details.

  1. It can help prevent Cancer
  2. Improves the Immune System
  3. Helps with Weight Loss
  4. Helps with common respiratory and sinus issues
  5. Helps maintain Blood Pressure
  6. Promotes Healthier Bones
  7. Helps treat Urinary Tract Infections
  8. Great for the health of the skin and the hair
  9. Helps enhance the Nervous system of the body
  10. Is beneficial for Pregnant women and their unborn babies too
  11. Improves the body's metabolism
  12. Can help improve your sleep
  13. Has strong Antibacterial and Antimicrobial properties
  14. Has strong Anti-inflammatory properties
  15. Has Pain relieving characteristics

#1. It can help prevent Cancer

There is a compound called glucosinolates which are present in some plants. This compound helps make the plants hardier so that they could survive toxic and harsh environments. Glucosinolates are found in large concentrations in horseradish and these enzymes have been proven to have cancer-fighting abilities. 

There have been scientific studies which have shown that glucosinolates from horseradish can kill off cancerous cells in the case of colon cancer. 

A 2005 study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry by Marvin J. Weil showed that bioactive compounds and enzymes found in horseradish inhibited the growth of cancerous cells. Horseradish contains sinigrin, which is the glucosinolate, which is a specific type of anti-oxidant which has properties which can prevent the growth of cancerous cells in the body. 

Broccoli, being in the same family of plants, also contains glucosinolates but horseradish contains up to 10 times the amount in broccoli. So, adding some horseradish is a great idea to get some help in curbing the risk of cancer. The hot taste and profile which horseradish have and are known for actually comes from these glucosinolates. Along with sinigrin, horseradish also contains gluconasturtiin which is another glucosinolates. Both of these together are present in most abundant quantities in horseradish, which provides it with the strong anti-cancer properties.

Glucosinolates get broken down into two compounds once they are inside the body called isothiocyanates and indoles, which are believed to be the main factors which provide the anti-cancer properties to similar plants. These claims are bolstered by several studies. One of such studies was a recent one from the University of Illinois. It showed that the significant quantities of glucosinolates present in the horseradish can increase the body's resistance to cancer. It was stated that the glucosinolates in horseradish promote the liver’s ability to detoxify carcinogens and that can even stifle the growth of existing cancerous tumors in the body. 

The study also revealed that horseradish is one of the select curative vegetables in which processing actually helps increase the anticancer benefits and that makes it much easier for our bodies to harness its medicinal properties. Horseradish contains an enzyme which breaks down the glucosinolates into the compounds that actually supply the anti-cancer characteristics. Therefore processing horseradish is actually beneficial. That helps to release the anti-cancer enzymes and consequently help prevent cancer. A different recent study published by the University of Dundee in Scotland suggests a possible anti-cancer property supplied by glucosinolates which are found in horseradish and related plants of the Brassica family. 

So, all in all, there have been plenty of significant evidence through legitimate scientific studies which have, at the very least, shown that horseradish can help prevent cancer and maybe even curb the growth of cancerous cells. More research is certainly needed to find out the full extent of these properties and whether, one day, they can help humanity figure out the cure for cancer. But, in the meanwhile, it is a good idea for you to start a little bit of horseradish regularly. It has anti-cancer properties but still has many more benefits for your body which are detailed below.

#2. Improves the Immune System

Horseradish contains compounds which are known as phytochemicals. It is a broad classification the sinigrin comes under this along with other like isothiocyanate. These phytochemicals are the ones which are responsible for the strong and unique smell and flavors horseradish and other similar vegetables like wasabi have. The phytochemicals, when in the body, can simulate the properties and characteristic of anti-oxidants. Consequently, they help prevent any damage to the body due to oxidants and hence improve the immune system drastically. Furthermore, the phytochemicals present in horseradish enhances the production of white blood cells in the body. These white blood cells are crucial for the body as they keep it healthy because they are instrumental in preventing infection and such from foreign impurities White blood cells are really important to keep the body free from diseases as it is one of the chief lines of defense against them. 

Along with all this, Horseradish also contains significant amounts of Vitamin C in it which is also a strong anti-oxidant and helps protect the body from the damage of free radicals. Furthermore, horseradish has the mineral manganese in it too. Manganese is essential for the body as it is used in the production and release of energy and also for bolstering the antioxidant defense in the body. The body's natural enzymes which fight against free radical damage needs manganese for production.

Horseradish is practically packed with various anti-oxidants which protect the body from inside to out and helps it fight a variety of diseases. Some of these are phytocompounds, which are plant-based anti-oxidants which are really beneficial to your health. Among the tons of anti-oxidants in horseradish, some have antimutagenic properties. That means that they can protect the body from harm which can be caused due to dangerous mutagens. Overall, horseradish is full of extremely beneficial compounds and anti-oxidants which improve the health a lot and also aid in fighting off a variety of diseases and disorders, horseradish can even prevent damage to DNA which could be caused due to oxidative stress to the body. 

#3. Helps with Weight Loss

Horseradish can provide many properties to the body which can aid you in helping to lose weight. 

First of all, horseradish itself has practically no calories and actually no fat whatsoever. It does contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are crucial for the body and the metabolism. 

Horseradish also contains several other enzymes which improve metabolism by enhancing the digestion. Some compounds in it can even help bring about the bowel movements which could be helpful if you are looking to lose weight. The phytochemicals present in the horseradish stimulate various body functions which aid in digestion like the salivary, intestinal and gastric glands. 

The root of the horseradish plant is also a cholagogue which means that it stimulates and increases the production of bile in the gallbladder which consequently is helpful to digestion by the body. Consequently, it can help with stomach issues like constipation and diarrhea as it works to normalize your bowel movements. Moreover, It also contains fiber which also helps improve digestion. The fiber and proteins contained in it can also help to feel filled up so that you can curb any excessive eating which could be leading to weight gain. Thus, all these effects in tandem could be highly beneficial in aiding your weight loss. However, horseradish is quite strong and it is also reported to be connected with some digestive issues. So, it is best to check with your doctor first before going ahead with using horseradish for this purpose. 

#4. Helps with common respiratory and sinus issues

Horseradish has a powerful odor which can clear up the sinuses form any mucus. Sniffing it can help make your nose and eyes water and clear up any congestion of your respiratory system caused due to conditions like a cold. Moreover, since horseradish acts as a potent antibiotic, it can be helpful in the remedying of various respiratory diseases. It is known as a cure for issues like bronchitis, sinusitis and the common cold in traditional medicinal practices. This was confirmed and proven by a study in which the effects of horseradish and a normal antibiotic were compared and they came out to be quite similar. Horseradish root proved to be effective in treating congestion due to sinusitis and also bronchitis in a similar fashion to the conventional antibiotic. Consuming half a teaspoon of horseradish sauce directly a couple of times in a day has been in use as a traditional medicine to clear out the sinuses. Overall, the consumption and the odors of horseradish are extremely effective in helping you clear out your airways so that you can breath easy without any pesky congestion, be it from any source like cold or sinusitis.

#5. Helps maintain Blood Pressure

Potassium is an essential nutrient for our body. It helps to manage and regulate the flow of essentials fluids between cells and also manages the tension of the blood vessels. These factors are very important for maintaining normal blood pressure and consequently good cardiovascular health. Thus, if there is a deficiency of potassium in the body it could result in a variety of cardiovascular issues like heart attack, strokes, and atherosclerosis and an increase in blood pressure levels. Hence, horseradish can be an effective remedy for preventing such problems as it is a rich source of potassium for the body.

#6. Promotes Healthier Bones:

Horseradish contains calcium in decent quantities within it. Calcium is a mineral which is essential for the good health of bones. It is needed for everything related to bone health, including their growth and repair. So, consuming calcium through any, preferably natural source, is a good idea if you want to keep your bones in good shape and avoid crippling bone diseases like arthritis and osteoporosis.

#7. Helps treat Urinary Tract Infections:

As mentioned before, horseradish acts as a potent antibiotic and hence can prevent urinary tract infection from happening. In some cases, it has proven to be even better than the usual and conventional medication for it. Moreover, the sinigrin, which is the glucosinolate present in the horseradish has excellent diuretic properties. Which means that it can help to stimulate urination in the body. This helps to avoid any water retention which could give rise to urinary tract infections. It helps stimulate the blood capillaries to keep the water from retention in the body. This diuretic property also provides some other benefits to the body like helping to expel the toxins and impurities through the body and keeping up the good health of the kidney. This characteristic is also beneficial to people looking to lose some weight as the urine also contains 4% fats by composition. The German equivalent of American regulatory authority FDA has recognized the effects of horseradish for the treatment of urinary tract infections. It actually is considered to be equally effective as other conventional medications and forms of treatment. The compounds and chemicals present in the horseradish are believed to accumulate the most in the urine in the body. These are beneficial to the body and have antibiotic effects so they keep the bladder healthy.

#8. Great for the health of the skin and the hair:

This is kind of unexpected we are sure but Horseradish can also help keep your skin and hair in great shape by keeping them strong and healthy. Collagen, which is the natural protein which is produced by the body and it is essential for the health of the skin and the hair. That is because it is essential and used integrally for the production, repair, and regeneration of those cells. This, in turn, allows for hair's growth and keeping the skin soft and supple. Hence, regular consumption of horseradish can have nice beneficial effects on your hair and skin due to it being a stimulant for collagen production. Horseradish itself also has some bleaching properties which can be helpful in the treatment of skin conditions like melasma. Melasma is a skin condition which causes skin discoloration and appearance of brown spots on the skin. The juice of the horseradish root is great for treating such conditions through direct topical application. You can simply slice a fresh horseradish root and rub it on your skin to apply its juices onto your skin if you want to use it to treat melasma or skin discoloration and patches. These effects also help horseradish to lighten the skin's pigmentation due to its bleaching properties. Hence, it can find some uses in the reduction of blemishes like age spots. You can also prepare some easy DIY remedies using horseradish which can help you with such issues. We have compiled 3 such home remedies which you can use:

Furthermore, the antioxidants present in the horseradish can help protect the scalp and help stimulate the blood circulation to the scalp. This allows for making the hair stronger and preventing issues like hair loss an thinning. Use the following remedy to harness horseradish's benefits for hair and scalp.

#9. Helps enhance the Nervous system of the body:

Our nervous system is one of the most important systems in our body. It is what allows us to function properly and is basically the wiring inside our body which supplies all sort of essential signals to different parts of our body from the brain. Without a nervous system, we would not be able to feel, move or do anything basically. Horseradish contains multiple nutrients which are essential for the brain too. Hence, it is great for supplying the essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to the brain which are necessary for its proper function. Our nervous system requires particular amino acids for its normal functioning and vitamins like B9, and folate or folic acid is really important for the regulation of such amino acids. Consuming horseradish can provide these essential nutrients to your brain and nervous system which will help you live a long healthy life without much risk of neurodegenerative diseases. If your body has a deficiency of folates, it can result in dangerous and crippling mental diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease. So, we are sure that you want to include some horseradish in your diet to avoid these disorders of which there are no real cures.

#10. Is beneficial for Pregnant women and their unborn babies too:

As is mentioned here previously, horseradish is a good source of B-vitamin complex like folates. Folate is known to be healthy for pregnant ladies and fetuses as it can help in the formation of the neural tube and red blood cells in the developing fetuses. Contrarily, a deficiency of folates in pregnant women can lead to complications with the birth like the babies being severely underweight and also the risk of neural tube defects in them. So, consuming horseradish while you are pregnant certainly does have many important benefits which any expectant mother would want. However, this is a delicate matter so definitely consult with your doctor before altering your diet. This is extra important here too because, since horseradish is so strong, you do not want to go overboard with its consumption which could definitely have detrimental effects on the body. So, extreme caution is recommended in such cases.

#11. Improves the body's metabolism:

Horseradish can help increase the body's energy level and give you a new zest. It practically enhances you as a human by increasing your mental prowess by enhancing your concentration and focus levels. It will help make you more aware and quick. These properties of horseradish are made possible due to the abundant amounts of proteins, vitamins, and minerals it contains. Moreover, it has practically no calories and fats. Consequently, all the protein can go directly for the production of energy, building tissues and muscles, repairing and energizing cell functions and basically overcharging your body to perform better than it normally does. It is brilliant that way and you certainly should include some horseradish in your daily diet if all of this sounds appealing to you, and let's be honest, who wouldn't be attracted to this.

#12. Can help improve your sleep:

Horseradish contains ample amounts of magnesium which has been directly linked directly to improving the quality, duration, and the peacefulness of sleep. Horseradish is also known to stimulate and regulate and basically enhance the metabolism which is also linked to having a sound sleep. It will help prevent sleep disorders like insomnia etc. Hence, including a bit of raw horseradish in your daily diet can improve the quality of your sleep drastically which can, in turn, make your daily life more fulfilling, relaxed and happy.

#13. Has strong Antibacterial and Antimicrobial properties:

Horseradish contains natural compounds and chemicals like allyl isothiocyanate which are strong and can kill off harmful bacteria like Listeria, E. coli, and Staphylococcus.  Hence, horseradish holds potent antibacterial properties which can help prevent a variety of bacterial diseases to be contracted by your body. Regular daily consumption of horseradish through, for instance, salad or a sandwich will imbue your body with these properties and help keep it fit and healthy. There has been another study which showed that consumption of horseradish essential oil through roast beef showed the highest protection from bacteria and their growth. Hence, horseradish can be extremely effective in combating harmful microbes in the body to avoid infections and such. It is even used to treat ear infection in some places.

#14. Has strong Anti-inflammatory properties:

Horseradish is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties too by some. It is recommended as a cure for inflammation like from injuries or from arthritis pains in traditional Chinese medicine. A scientific study performed in Italy also corroborated this theory to some extent by showing that the consumption of horseradish curbs the release of reactive types of oxygen which can cause inflammation in the body. So, horseradish can be useful in reducing and helping with inflammation in the body.

#15. Has Pain relieving characteristics:

Horseradish has properties which make it a rubefacient which means it can help with and stimulate the blood flow and circulation under the surface of the skin. Considering all this, horseradish is great as a massaging agent or liniment to be applied onto the skin to relieve any muscle aches, joint pains, etc. The German Commission E which is the counterpart of the FDA in Germany has confirmed these properties and have approved it to use externally to treat minor aches and pains in muscles and joints along with helping to treat issues like congestion of the chest. It's pain relieving properties have been known to humankind for many many years as it is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat lower back pains for centuries.

Possible Side Effects of Horseradish to be aware of

Since horseradish is so rich with natural compounds and enzymes it could be quite strong. Not all natural ingredients are good for health just because they are natural, and things like the quantity of consumption or usage are also significant in such cases. So, horseradish can also be somewhat harmful in certain cases and you should consult your doctor before starting consuming it in any significant or regular fashion or if you see any of the following side effects occurring:

This article has been medically reviewed by Dr.Geeta Sundar on 26/5/2019 

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