Wasabi, also known as Japanese horseradish, comes from the same family of plants as mustard, cabbage, and cauliflower and offers incredible health benefits. It has been highly regarded for its medicinal properties since ancient times, which includes improving the digestive, cardiovascular, and immune systems while also reducing the risk of developing several diseases.
Wasabi root is traditionally grown in streams and moist, shady areas in Japan, but is now also being commercially grown in similar areas in the US. Authentic wasabi, when grated, forms a light green, roughly textured, and pungent paste that is far more beneficial to health than any other radish or attempts at mimicking the real product.
It is most commonly known as the green paste on a sushi plate, but being a spicy root vegetable means that it can also be added to soups, salads, sauces, and alongside roasts. It has also been used as a spicy coating on peanuts, which serves as a healthy snack packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Here are 12 Health Benefits of Including Wasabi in Your Diet
1. Improves Digestion and Promotes Weight Loss
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 36.5% of American adults are obese, which can cause cancer, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.
Wasabi contains few calories and very little fat while offering intense flavor and plenty of fiber, which helps to promote natural weight loss.
One teaspoon of wasabi meets 5% of the daily recommended amount of dietary fiber, which boosts satiation and promotes excellent digestive health.
Wasabi contains compounds known as isothiocyanates that help to prevent blood platelets from sticking together, which reduces the chances of having strokes and heart attacks.
It also contains anti-hypercholesterolemic properties, which reduces the level of LDL (bad) cholesterol in the body and therefore reduces the risk of developing heart disease and atherosclerosis.
3. Boosts Immunity
Just one teaspoon of wasabi root contains 11% of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant that helps to keep the immune system strong.
The human body cannot synthesize its own Vitamin C, which is why it is important to eat Vitamin C-rich foods to prevent colds and flu and to keep the count of white blood cells, the soldiers of the immune system, at an optimum level.
4. Naturally Antibacterial
While the body does need some good bacteria to function, exposure to bad bacteria can cause many serious ailments and can disrupt the balance in the digestive tract.
A 2004 study demonstrated wasabi’s ability to destroy pathogenic bacteria, which makes it an excellent natural antibiotic without any adverse side-effects. Recent studies have ranked wasabi as the most successful antibacterial food against E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus, which means that it can even help to prevent food poisoning.
5. Prevents Cavities
Cavities are commonly caused by a certain strain of bacteria known as streptococcus mutans, which thrive in warm and wet areas and can be triggered by the level of acidity and sugar in the mouth.
Some studies have shown that wasabi not only strips the mouth of harmful bacteria but also inhibits its growth while restoring alkalinity in the mouth.
By preventing platelet aggregation, the compounds in wasabi also help to block prostaglandin, which is the neurotransmitter responsible for triggering inflammation and pain in the body. This helps to reduce the swelling related to injuries, sores, nasal blockages, and even reduces the symptoms of arthritis.
A 2002 study showed that the isothiocyanates help to inhibit the development and spread of leukemia cancer cells, which is one of the most deadly types of cancer and affects up to 1.5% of the American population per year.
A 2005 study in Japan showed that compounds in wasabi were also able to suppress the growth of breast cancer cells, which is one of the most common types of cancer in the world.
The American Society for Nutritional Sciences Journal has published a report which suggests that regular consumption of wasabi could significantly reduce the risk of developing any cancer related to the digestive system due to the presence of powerful anti-carcinogenic compounds.
8. Relieves Respiratory Conditions
The consumption of wasabi generates a powerful reaction in the nasal passages and sinuses which help to decongest and disinfect the respiratory system. This is due to the gaseous release of allyl isothiocyanate, a compound which has been shown to reduce seasonal allergies, treat pneumonia, and prevent influenza.
9. Stimulates Bone Metabolism
Multiple studies have shown that wasabi has an anabolic effect on bone metabolism, which can prevent osteoporosis, fractures, and bone disease. It also contains 3% of the recommended daily amount of highly absorbable calcium per tablespoon, which helps to keep teeth and bones extra healthy.
10. Can Treat Eczema
Eczema causes red, swollen, and itchy skin and there is no official cure for this condition, except for making dietary changes to minimize any outbreak.
In 2009, researchers from Japan found that wasabi extract was an effective treatment for reducing the severity and frequency of such outbreaks, and also significantly limited the amount of positively stained cells.
11. Fights Fungal Infections
Wasabi is a powerful agent against fungal infections, which includes yeast infection, fungal meningitis, tuberculosis, and flu. It also contains powerful antioxidants, which helps to restore the balance of healthy cells and tissues in the body, ensuring that fungi cannot thrive.
12. Incredibly Nutritious
Wasabi contains antioxidants and minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, sodium, and Vitamins A, B-6, C, and riboflavin, which makes it a highly nutritious food source that benefits the health of your entire body.
Wasabi is an incredibly healthy condiment, which can be bought in the form of a freshly prepared paste or in its root form to be grated. Add it to rice, salads, sushi, soups, and alongside roasts to make every meal flavorful and highly nutritional.