Horseradish is a root vegetable from the family of Brassicaceae. Initially, it was used as a spice and for medicinal purposes. However, with its pungent and tangy taste, horseradish has a reputation for providing a robust spicy relish to various dishes. It is from the white root of the horseradish plant. The root itself is rich in nutrients and vitamin C, therefore widely recommended for scurvy.

The name ‘horseradish’ originated in Central Europe, and after the renaissance, the consumption of the root vegetable spread throughout Europe and with colonisation in America. This root vegetable originated approximately 3000 years ago, although the exact location of its origination is unknown. It has gained attention due to its medicinal aspects over the years. According to studies, the Egyptians were aware of this root vegetable in 1500 B.C. In some other cultures, one uses it medicinally to rub the lower back as a cure for pain or aches. Even today, in some places, it is used to relieve cough.

Cultivation and Usage

Presently, this root vegetable is grown in the United States, specifically in the areas such as Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and Tule Lake, California. In Europe, Hungary is the biggest single producer of horseradish. And the U.S., Illinois leads in the production of the root vegetable with 1500 acres and an annual value of the farm of $10 million since it is a refined and added ingredient in many products.

It is mainly multifaceted, and one can use it with various dishes such as meat, fish, and even salads. It is even used in various sauces to give them their unique taste. Horseradish also has medicinal value, and it has been used for thousands of years for the same by different cultures all over the world. But other than this, people might not be aware of how helpful horseradish can be. It has its health benefits, and if consumed too much, it can have side effects. 

This article will provide complete guidance and the necessary pieces of information one needs to know about horseradish. 

Nutritional Facts of Horseradish

According to USDA, the nutritional composition of 100 grams of horseradish is as follows:

  • Energy: 48 kCal
  • Protein: 1.18 g
  • Fat: 0.69 g
  • Fibre: 3.3 g
  • Carbohydrate: 11.3 g
  • Potassium: 246 mg
  • Sodium: 420 mg
  • Vitamin C: 24.9 mg
  • Selenium: 2.8 µg

Since one mostly eats the roots of horseradish, they don’t have many calories and only contain the essential nutrients. But it does include a high number of vitamins and minerals, mainly focusing on calcium, potassium, and vitamin C.

According to a study, five grams of prepared horseradish contains 1.2 mg of vitamin C, 0.02 mg of iron, 2.80 mg of calcium, and 12 mg of potassium.

Additionally, as per research, this root vegetable contains essential compounds such as glucosinolate. It is in the root and leaf tissues of the vegetable. Horseradish also promotes the growth of calcium, potassium, and similar micronutrients. 

Uses of Horseradish

With medicinal and nutritional values, horseradish has a variety of uses. 

Listed below are the best uses of the root vegetable:

Culinary

The tangy taste of this root vegetable comes from a compound called allyl isothiocyanate. Horseradish is used in many different ways when it comes to cooking. One of its primary uses is making flavoured vinegar, which can help preserve it for months.

Another known use of it is in the vegetable leaves, making many salad recipes enjoyable. It also serves an ingredient in dishes such as meat, fish, sandwiches, sauces, and even cocktails.

Horseradish Sauce

According to a study, the sauce is made from grated horseradish and is popular in the United Kingdom. It is famous as a sauce served with roasted beef. In addition, this sauce is very popular in Poland and Germany. However, the preparation and texture are slightly different.

In other cultures, like the Eastern European Jewish cuisine, a sweetened horseradish-vinegar sauce, a.k.a chrain, traditionally accompanies gefilte fish. In Russia, this root vegetable is mixed with grated garlic to form their version of a sauce. And in France, the horseradish sauce is known as sauce au raifort.

Medicinal Uses

As mentioned above, the Egyptians knew the medicinal properties of horseradish, and they used it correctly. The same goes for the Greeks; they used the root vegetable as an aphrodisiac.

According to a study, in Europe, it has been used to treat scurvy, food poisoning, and tuberculosis. Horseradish is also known to reduce inflammation, fight cell damage, and improve one’s respiratory system.

Wasabi

Since wasabi japonica is challenging to cultivate, it is a common derivative of horseradish. However, since horseradish is easier to grow and time-saving, the commercially available ones usually contain horseradish, mustard, cabbage, and food colour. So, unfortunately, sushi lovers might have never tasted real wasabi.

Health Benefits of Horseradish

Anti-cancer

The compound glucosinolate in the horseradish helps prevent cancer by inhibiting the growth of cancer cells and other infections.

In addition, studies suggest that other compounds found in horseradish help inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells, lung cancer cells, and stomach cancer cells.

Antibacterial

Horseradish may also have antibacterial properties. According to another study, another compound present in the root vegetable called isothiocyanates provides the vegetable with its antibacterial properties. It can fight a range of bacteria, such as E.coli and Salmonella.

Relief from Acute Sinusitis and Bronchitis

Since horseradish is already known to cause a burning sensation in one’s throat and nose upon consumption, it helps to relieve colds and other respiratory issues.

For example, in a study conducted in Germany, the patients suffering from acute sinusitis and acute bronchitis recovered relatively faster after consuming horseradish root containing the herbal drug Angocin Anti-Infekt N.

Aids Weight Loss

Besides these benefits, horseradish is a great weight loss aid. It is low in calories but has an abundance of other nutrients. And the compound in the root vegetable called isothiocyanates helps boost one’s metabolism.

Anti-Ageing

It also has anti-ageing properties. In addition, as per research, the antioxidants present in the root vegetable protect your body from cellular damage. 

Other Benefits

Horseradish contains enzymes that boost immunity by providing Vitamin C and Zinc. It also stimulates digestion, regulates bowel movement, and reduces constipation.

The Best Time to Consume

Luckily horseradish has a long shelf life. When put in vinegar, you can preserve it for up to 6 months. However, it is best if consumed freshly made. It can improve metabolism and assist digestion. People suffering from urinary tract infections can also consume it. Due to the high nutrient profile, it strengthens one’s immunity. Since it is a traditionally used medicine, one can regularly incorporate small quantities of it into the diet. 5 to 15 grams per day is considered safe for consumption by a healthy individual. However, since every human being is different, it is advised to consult a dietician or a nutritionist before including something new in your meals. 

Preparation

Horseradish is famous for being the best condiment for meat, fish, roasted potato dishes, etc. The best part about this root vegetable is that it is easy to grow and even prepare. One has to cut a root section and plant it in the soil. And also make sure that it gets enough sun. Since horseradish grows faster, it doesn’t require much involvement in growing. One can even find the vegetable’s roots in the market. Even though its leaves are edible, its roots are the ones more in use. You should sow this vegetable in early spring, and you can harvest it by fall. 

Its roots are used more for preparation as it has more flavour. Also, you can preserve the leftover roots through the seasons. The horseradish roots are well stored if the conditions are cool, humid, and dark locations. If this is not feasible, one can dry the roots to keep them better, and then, later on, they can be used to make sauces and dressings. After cleaning the roots, you can prepare them in multiple ways. One of their common uses is to make horseradish sauce. This sauce is famous in various countries in the U.S. and Europe. You can pair them with meat, fish, etc. One of the well-known versions of this sauce, Pickled Horseradish sauce, is made of grated roots, White vinegar, salt, and vitamin C. This sauce can be preserved for months if stored in the refrigerator. 

Healthy Recipes Using Horseradish

Home-Made Horseradish

Servings: 24 (½ cup yield) 

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • Horseradish root: 1 (8 to 10-inch long) piece 
  • Water: 2 tbsp/ as needed
  • White vinegar: 1 tbsp/as needed
  • Pinch salt

Method

  • Remove the leaves (if needed) and rinse the dirt off of the root.
  • Use a vegetable peeler to peel the surface skin off of the tuber. Chop into pieces.
  • Put into a small food processor. Add a couple of tablespoons of water. Process until well ground, adding more water a teaspoon at a time if needed.
  • Be careful! A ground-up fresh horseradish is often as potent as freshly chopped onions and can hurt your eyes if you get too close. So keep at arm’s length and work in a well-ventilated room.
  • Strain out some of the water if the mixture is too liquidy. Add a tablespoon of white vinegar and a pinch of salt to the mix. Pulse to combine.
  • Note that the vinegar will stabilise the ground horseradish level of hotness, so do not wait too long to add it to the mixture. Add more vinegar, one teaspoon at a time, if needed.
  • Using a rubber spatula, carefully transfer the grated horseradish to a jar. It will keep for at least one month in the refrigerator.

Nutritional Facts for 1 tsp (5 grams)

  • Calories: 2.4 kcal
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Carbohydrate: 0.5 g
  • Protein: 0 g

Note: This recipe uses a small root to make ½ cup of prepared horseradish. Because of the small amount, a small or mini food processor (6-cup capacity or smaller) or chopper work best. Double the recipe for a large food processor, making 1 cup.

Horseradish Sauce

Servings: 12 (¾ cup yield) 

Preparation time: 2 minutes

Ingredients

  • Sour cream: ½ cup
  • Prepared horseradish drained: 2 tbsp
  • Mayonnaise: 2 tbsp
  • Apple cider vinegar: 1 tsp
  • Salt: ¼ tsp
  • Black pepper: ⅛ tsp
  • Chives, finely chopped: 1 tbsp

Method

  • In a small mixing bowl, add and stir all the ingredients together. 
  • Serve it immediately or cover and refrigerate it for not more than two weeks. 

Nutritional Facts for 1 tsp (5.6 grams)

  • Calories: 28.2 kcal
  • Fat: 2.85 g
  • Protein: 0.06 g
  • Carbohydrates: 0.56 g
  • Sodium: 40.9 g
  • Potassium: 2.46 mg

Note: If you prefer a stronger horseradish taste in the sauce, add more prepared horseradish to it. 

Allergies

According to research, horseradish can cause swollen lips, skin irritation, itching, and rashes when consumed. In addition, horseradish can lead to a sustained bout of allergies.

An IgE-mediated immediate allergic reaction causes the allergy. However, studies also claim this was the first report of a patient having an allergy due to horseradish. Therefore more extensive controlled studies are required to reveal whether the 18-kDa protein is a radish-specific antigen.

Side Effects of Horseradish

As much as horseradish has its advantages, it does have its side effects if not taken in moderation. Nothing in excess is good for health. Since it’s spicy, too much of it can irritate one’s nose, mouth, stomach lining, and digestive tract.

It can also cause vomiting, diarrhoea, burning in the stomach, and sweating if consumed too much. Patients diagnosed with hypothyroidism, peptic ulcers, or gastritis must avoid its intake. Children below four years of age should not be allowed to eat horseradish. Women undergoing pregnancy or lactation should restrict their consumption.

Summary

Horseradish makes a great condiment and has several benefits. High in nutrients but low in fats and carbs, it is an excellent food to be included in the diet. If kept well in the refrigerator, you can preserve it for months. Its health benefits outweigh its deficient side effects as it is rich in antibacterial properties and cancer-preventing properties.

It also has antioxidant properties, protecting one’s body from cellular damage. Being low in carbs and fat makes it a suitable choice for dieters. Since it is easy to grow and prepare, with just one section of the root planted in the soil, you can produce and grow this at your house in your garden.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. What is the taste of horseradish?

A. Horseradish usually has a tangy and pungent taste, which can be spicy and cause our sinuses and eyes to get watery. However, not for a very long period. Many people often describe its taste as spicy or peppery. 

Q. Where can I find horseradish?

A. Horseradish is abundant in places in the U.S., such as Eau Claire, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Tule Lake, California. And in Europe, Hungary is the largest producer of root vegetables. Therefore, in the U.S. and Europe, people consume horseradish condiments in various dishes. Moreover, it is easily available in the markets, stores, or even online grocery stores. Also, you can grow your horseradish and enjoy it fresh. 

A. No! Horseradish is not related to ginger. It is different from ginger, a member of the Zingiberaceae family, whereas horseradish belongs to the Brassicaceae family. Moreover, its medicinal properties and nutrient content are different. 

Q. Why do we eat horseradish with beef?

A. Horseradish tends to balance the richness in beef by giving it a lighter taste. Hence, it is well-paired with meat. In addition, this condiment provides a tangy and spicy flavour that goes with any dish, especially if it’s meat. However, it goes well with roasted beef; in fact, this is how one mostly consumes it in the U.S. and all around Europe. 

Q. How spicy is horseradish?

A. Horseradish is so spicy that it is known to clear one’s sinuses if eaten at a moderate rate. But, on the other hand, it can make one’s eyes go red, and if taken too much, its spicy flavour can hurt our stomach lining and cause diarrhoea. But the spiciness does not last for a very long time. 

Q. Why is horseradish sauce spicy?

A. While making the sauce, vinegar and salt get added to the same roots, which increases the peppery, pungent taste and increases the spicy flavour in it, which gives an intense spicy aftertaste. However, it can be a bit more than what one can tolerate.

Q. Can you eat horseradish raw?

A. Yes, even though it is usually preferred to prepare, cook, or pickle. You can consume it raw as well. One often consumes raw grated horseradish, and is deemed safe. Mostly, raw grated horseradish is popular as an accompaniment for gefilte fish and shellfish. 

Q. Can horseradish help you lose weight?

A. Horseradish is high in nutrients and low in fats and carbs. Other than this, the compound in the root vegetable called isothiocyanates helps boost one’s metabolism, which can assist in losing weight. Also, the natural spice in horseradish can be a beneficial factor.

Q. Does horseradish lower blood pressure?

A. Horseradish does help reduce blood pressure along with improving our immunity and making our bones stronger. In addition, the presence of potassium regulates the flow of fluids in our bloodstream and promotes the management of blood pressure. 

Q. Does whole food carry horseradish?

A. If one cannot find the horseradish plant, you can easily get it in whole food markets. However, do not forget that if it is squishy and dried, you should avoid the same.

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