Get to know the health benefits of wasabi

Wasabi is a vibrant green spice that is mostly eaten with sushi. While it’s known for being spicy, did you know it offers several health benefits? Here are all the benefits of wasabi you should know.

Do you love wasabi – the spicy condiment served with sushi? Turns out, wasabi not only adds spiciness to your dishes but also offers several health benefits. Also known as Japanese horseradish,  it is a cruciferous vegetable that grows naturally in Japan. It also grows in some parts of New Zealand, Korea, North America, and China. It has a pungent flavour and has a lot to offer than just being a condiment to Sushi. This treasure trove of medicinal properties contains anti-inflammatory components that help improve memory in older adults, boost your immunity, and offer several other benefits. Here’s everything you need to know about wasabi benefits.

What are the benefits of wasabi?

If you’re wondering whether wasabi is more than just a spicy condiment or not, here’s what you need to know:

1. Contains antioxidants

Wasabi contains antioxidants, including 6-methylsulfonyl hexyl isothiocyanate (6-MSITC), which can help neutralise harmful free radicals in the body. Eating a diet rich in antioxidants helps scavenge free radicals from the body and prevent the onset of many diseases such as heart disease and certain cancers. A study published in the Frontiers in Pharmacology found that antioxidants can control oxidative stress and inflammation.

wasabi
Wasabi contains antioxidants that can help you fight free radicals. Image courtesy: Adobe stock

2. Promotes heart health

A study published in the journal Foods found that obese rats who were treated with wasabi experienced a reduction of inflammatory cell infiltration in the heart. Nutritional Avni Kaul explains that antioxidants in wasabi might have a positive impact on your heart health. They can help improve blood vessel function, reduce blood pressure, and potentially lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

3. Good for digestion

Since it’s spicy, people may think that wasabi may lead to digestive issues but it stimulates the production of digestive enzymes. This means eating it may help break down food and alleviate digestive discomfort. The nutritionist says that wasabi includes natural enzymes that aid proper digestion and nutrient absorption that can help curb bloating and indigestion.

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4. Has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties

“The compounds in wasabi, particularly 6-MSITC, may have anti-inflammatory properties that help in reducing pain, promote healthy joints, and may even lessen the chances of catching chronic inflammatory conditions,” says the expert. Inflammation is linked to various health issues and reducing it can be beneficial.

5. May reduce inflammation

This powerful green root contains vitamin C, potassium, calcium, antioxidants, and other compounds that can help your body fight against inflammation and chronic diseases. Isothiocyanates, which give wasabi its pungent flavour, may help slow down the progression of neurodegenerative disorders caused by inflammation, found a study published in Frontiers in Neurology.

6. May have anticancer properties

Including wasabi in your diet may help you reduce the risk of cancer in some people. Studies have found that isothiocyanates may help kill the growth of cancers like oral, pancreatic, and breast cancer. It can reduce the risk of developing cancer such as kidney, ovarian, and endometrial cancer.

7. May help with bone health

Wasabi contains anti-inflammatory properties that help contribute to better bone health. A study published in the Yakugaku Zasshi: Journal of the Pharmaceutical Society of Japan found that wasabi contains a compound called p-hydroxycinnamic acid (HCA) which helps increase bone formation and reduce bone breakdown in animals. It is also believed to be good for people suffering from osteoporosis, a disease that leads to weak and brittle bones.

osteoporosis during pregnancy
Eating wasabi may be good for your bones. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

How to include wasabi in your diet?

You have to get genuine and fresh wasabi, and it can be served with spice, herb, or condiment. You can eat it with sushi, noodle soups, grilled meat, salad dressings, marinades, and dips.

Are there any side effects of eating wasabi?

Wasabi is generally safe to use as a medicine or otherwise, however pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult a professional healthcare provider before adding wasabi to their diet. Too much wasabi may also increase the risk of bleeding in people who already suffer from bleeding disorders. So you have to be mindful of the portion size of wasabi you eat.