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All about “Horseradish”

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Health profile

Horseradish and wasabi are plants that are part of the cruciferous family. Their leaves can be eaten, but it is mainly their roots that are used as a condiment in dishes. The term wasabi is often used to refer to wasabi powder or paste, which is more of a mixture of horseradish and mustard seeds. In this fact sheet, the term wasabi will represent the plant (root), while wasabi powder or paste will be specified as such.

Active ingredients and properties

Antioxidants . Antioxidants are compounds that protect cells in the body from damage caused by free radicals. These are very reactive molecules that are believed to be involved in the development of cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers and other diseases linked to aging 1 . Studies on the antioxidants in horseradish and wasabi are still limited. Horseradish is known to contain small amounts of flavonoids 2 . As for wasabi, it would contain certain phenolic compounds 3 , but these have never been characterized. In addition, studies have shown that wasabi leaves as well as horseradish and wasabi roots have a significant antioxidant effect in vitro.4 .

Glucosinolates . These compounds are mainly found in crucifers. Glucosinolates are biologically inactive, but when the food suffers physical damage (e.g. when it is cut, crushed, chewed), they come into contact with an enzyme (myrosinase) and then turn into active molecules. such as isothiocyanates . The latter would help to slow the development of cancer in humans 5-7 . Cooking reduces the activity of myrosinase, which, in theory, would decrease the possibility of converting glucosinolates into active compounds. However, the intestinal bacterial flora can also transform glucosinolates , 9, which would partially compensate for this loss of myrosinase from cooked foods.

Glucosinolates have been found in the roots of horseradish 10 and wasabi 11 . The glucosinolate content of horseradish is said to be higher than that of broccoli, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower. As for the isothiocyanates formed when the wasabi root suffers physical damage, their amount varies depending on several factors, such as the place of cultivation, the part of the root used and its maturity 12 . The allyl isothiocyanate contributes more than 80% of the total content in isothiocyanates horseradish and wasabi 12 , 13 .

  • Cancer . In one study, adding large amounts of wasabi powder to the diet of rats reduced the incidence of digestive system tumors in rats 14 . In recent years, several studies have shown that the allyl isothiocyanate contained in wasabi 15 , 16 and horseradish 17 inhibited the growth of various cancer cells in vitro and in animals. On the other hand, wasabi (root) as well as powdered wasabi could also contain compounds that stimulate the growth of certain cancer cells in vitro 18. Researchers are currently trying to understand the mechanisms of action 16 in order to know the implication of these results in humans. Considering the presence of other beneficial compounds (antioxidants, vitamins, minerals) in wasabi and the fact that it is generally consumed with foods rich in nutrients (sushi for example), it is very likely that the benefits outweigh the possible ones. adverse effects 17 .
  • Other effects . Isothiocyanates have also been shown to have antiplatelet 19 and anti-inflammatory effects 20 . At this time, it is not possible to know if consuming horseradish or wasabi causes such effects in humans.

Other properties

Are horseradish and wasabi antioxidants? Horseradish and wasabi are known to contain antioxidants, but at the moment their TAC index is not available.
Are horseradish and wasabi acidifying? Data not available.
Do horseradish and wasabi have a high glycemic load? Data not available.

Most important nutrients

See the meaning of the nutrient source classification symbols

 Vitamin C . The raw horseradish is an excellent source of vitamin C, while the root of wasabi is one source . The role that vitamin C plays in the body goes beyond its antioxidant properties; it also contributes to the health of bones, cartilage, teeth and gums. In addition, it protects against infections, promotes the absorption of iron contained in plants and accelerates healing.

 Calcium . The raw horseradish and root wasabi are sources of calcium. Calcium is by far the most abundant mineral in the body. Most of it is stored in the bones, of which it is an integral part. It contributes to the formation of bones and teeth, as well as to the maintenance of their health. Calcium also plays an essential role in blood clotting, maintaining blood pressure and muscle contraction (including the heart).

 Phosphorus . The raw horseradish and root wasabi are sources of phosphorus (see our profile Awards nutrient phosphorus ). Phosphorus is the body’s second most abundant mineral after calcium. It plays a vital role in building and maintaining healthy bones and teeth. In addition, it participates among other things in the growth and regeneration of tissues and helps maintain normal blood pH . Finally, phosphorus is one of the constituents of cell membranes.

 Magnesium . The root of wasabi is a source of magnesium. Magnesium is involved in bone development, protein building, enzymatic actions, muscle contraction, dental health and the functioning of the immune system. It also plays a role in the metabolism of energy and in the transmission of nerve impulses.

 Potassium . The raw horseradish and root wasabi are sources of potassium. In the body, potassium is used to balance the pH of the blood and to stimulate the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, thus aiding digestion. In addition, it facilitates the contraction of muscles, including the heart, and participates in the transmission of nerve impulses.

 Iron . The raw horseradish is a source of iron for men and women, while the wasabi root is a source for humans only, the iron requirements of women being superior to those of man. Each body cell contains iron. This mineral is essential for the transport of oxygen and the formation of red blood cells in the blood. It also plays a role in the manufacture of new cells, hormones and neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses). It should be noted that the iron contained in foods of plant origin (such as horseradish or wasabi) is less well absorbed by the body than the iron contained in foods of animal origin. The absorption of iron from plants is however favored when consumed with certain nutrients, such as vitamin C.

 Zinc . The root of wasabi is a source of zinc. Zinc is involved in particular in immune reactions, in the production of genetic material, in the perception of taste, in the healing of wounds and in the development of the fetus. It also interacts with sex and thyroid hormones. In the pancreas, it participates in the synthesis (manufacture), storage and release of insulin.

 Manganese. The root of wasabi is a source of manganese. Manganese acts as a cofactor of several enzymes that facilitate a dozen different metabolic processes. It also participates in the prevention of damage caused by free radicals .

 Copper . The root of wasabi is a source of copper. As a component of several enzymes, copper is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and collagen (a protein used for the structure and repair of tissues) in the body. Several copper-containing enzymes also help in the body’s defense against free radicals.

 Vitamin B1 . The root of wasabi is a source of vitamin B1. Also called thiamine, vitamin B1 is part of a coenzyme necessary for the production of energy mainly from the carbohydrates that we ingest. It also participates in the transmission of nerve impulses and promotes normal growth.

 Vitamin B2 . The root of wasabi is a source of Vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin. Like vitamin B1, it plays a role in the energy metabolism of all cells. In addition, it contributes to the growth and repair of tissues, the production of hormones and the formation of red blood cells.

 Vitamin B6 . The raw horseradish and root wasabi are sources of vitamin B6. Vitamin B6, also called pyridoxine, is part of coenzymes involved in the metabolism of proteins and fatty acids as well as in the synthesis (manufacture) of neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses). It also helps in the production of red blood cells and allows them to carry more oxygen. Pyridoxine is also necessary for the transformation of glycogen into glucose and it contributes to the proper functioning of the immune system. Finally, this vitamin plays a role in the formation of certain components of nerve cells and in the modulation of hormone receptors.

What is a “serving” of horseradish and wasabi worth?
Weight / volume Raw horseradish (root), 66 g (60 ml) Prepared horseradish, 5 g (5 mL) Wasabi root, 69 g (125 ml)
Calories 57 2 75
Protein 2.1 g 0.1 g 3.3 g
Carbohydrates 13.0 g 0.6 g 16.2 g
Lipids 0.2 g 0.0 g 0.4 g
Dietary fiber Data not available 0.2 g 5.4 g

Source  : Health Canada. Canadian Nutrient File , 2005.
* The nutritional value of wasabi powder or paste is not available in the Canadian Nutrient File .

Food associations against pathogens

The allyl isothiocyanate contained in the horseradish and wasabi, demonstrates an antimicrobial effect . It is believed to act against certain bacteria and yeasts which may be found in foods 22,23 . By reducing the growth of these pathogens, this compound could be useful in the prevention of possible food poisoning, linked among other things to the consumption of raw fish or meat 24 . An excellent reason to favor the traditional combinations of wasabi / sushi and horseradish / beef!


The consumption of horseradish root (in therapeutic doses) is contraindicated in the following situations 21  :

  • pregnancy or breastfeeding;
  • hypothyroidism;
  • stomach or intestinal ulcer;
  • reflux of acidity;
  • kidney problems;
  • in case of consumption of antacids or thyroid preparations.

Additionally, people with allergies to sulfites should know that horseradish (as a condiment) is on a list of foods that may contain it.

Horseradish and wasabi over time

The term ”  horseradish  ” appeared in the French language in the XV th  century. It comes from the old French raïz , which means “root”, and strong whose meaning was once “harsh”.

Of Japanese origin, the term ”  wasabi  ” means “mountain hollyhock”, probably because these two plants have a number of similarities. However, their traditional uses, both medicinal and culinary, are entirely different.


Horseradish to Notch
The name ”  notch  “, which was once given to the plant, is probably borrowed from a Slavic language. Indeed, throughout Eastern Europe, we find this word under different spellings: kren , khren , krin , chrzan , etc.

Probably native to Eastern Europe and Asia Minor, horseradish was known to the Egyptians 1,500 BC, as well as to the Greeks and Romans who attributed many medicinal properties to it. Both the leaves and the seeds or the root were used. In the XII th century it was already cultivated in Central Europe. Its popularity has never wavered in this part of the world, where it traditionally accompanies ham or roast beef. It is also possible that it played a role in preserving these highly perishable foods, its bactericidal properties being powerful. From Central Europe, it spread to Scandinavia and England, where it is still appreciated. Today it is cultivated in most of the temperate regions of the world where it has become naturalized, behaving, in certain places, like a weed invading crops. It is estimated that 60% of the world’s production comes from the state of Illinois in the United States, which is said to harvest nearly 10 million kilograms each year.


In the same family as horseradish, but of a different botanical genus, wasabi is to raw fish what horseradish is to beef or oysters. Along with soy sauce and pickled ginger, it is the most popular condiment in Japanese cuisine. This semi-aquatic plant that grows spontaneously in the cold waters of the mountains of Japan – or nearby – has been appreciated since at least the 8th century. century as an antidote against food poisoning, a property much appreciated in a country where the consumption of raw fish is high. Once only harvested in the wild, it is now cultivated intensively in Japan as well as, more recently, on the American and Canadian west coasts. Unlike horseradish, it has a mild, mild flavor, although it contains the same active ingredients. In addition to the root, the Japanese eat the leaves that are dried or marinated fresh in soy sauce or sake. We also make a wine and liqueur made from wasabi.

Culinary uses

To access other recipes, you can go to the cooking recipes site, which offers the following recipes, among others: horseradish-based recipes , horseradish sauce, horseradish cream.

Choose well

Horseradish is sometimes available fresh in grocery or fruit stores, but most of the time, it is found marinated in vinegar or presented in a sauce. Read the label carefully, since some products contain an impressive list of additives.

As wasabi is a scarce and expensive commodity, commercial products sold under this name, including those imported from Japan, are mostly made from horseradish, mustard, and a green dye. However, you can find frozen pure wasabi paste in some grocery stores, or order it online, but you have to expect the price.

The fresh root of wasabi or horseradish should be firm and dense, heavy in the hand, without brown spots or soft spots.


As horseradish or wasabi root loses its spiciness very quickly once grated, it should only be prepared at the last minute. Beware of vapors which can irritate the eyes, and wash your hands well after the operation. In Japan, we usually use a grater covered with sharkskin, and the movement we give to the root is more circular than back and forth, resulting in a very fine mash. Otherwise, use a small hole rasp. These two condiments are rarely cooked; rather, they are added to dishes at the end of cooking.

Wasabi powder is prepared by dissolving it in a little water to obtain a consistent paste.

Culinary preparations

In the proposed recipes, we can replace wasabi with horseradish, and vice versa.


  • Horseradish is traditionally eaten with beef tongue , boiled beef, oysters and other seafood, or smoked fish .
  • In Austria it is mixed with grated sour apples and served with meat. If the apples are not acidic enough, add lemon juice.
  • It can be added to soups or, in small quantities, to salad dressing. It is particularly suitable for beet or coleslaw salads. Or in this salad of grated apples and carrots , seasoned with a sauce made with tofu and lemon juice, horseradish, honey and dry roasted and chopped walnuts.
  • Season tomato or vegetable juice with a few drops of horseradish juice obtained by putting the grated root in a piece of cheesecloth and squeezing over a bowl.
  • Add it to scrambled eggs , a dish of dried beans, mashed or baked potatoes, meatloaf, applesauce that will accompany roast pork, etc. Or add it to cream, yogurt or butter to make a sauce that will spice up peas, green beans, carrots, sweet corn or other vegetables.
  • Mix it with soft goat cheese , heat and cover the asparagus with this sauce.
  • Crush the flesh of an avocado and add a spoonful of grated horseradish and paprika. Stuff celery stalks with it or dip pieces of carrot and cucumber in it.
  • Mix together roasted garlic, a little horseradish, chives or shallots and olive oil to obtain a puree that we spread on slices of toast.
  • Fresh vegetable salsa: grate the carrot and zucchini, mince the onion, chop a tomato, mix all these vegetables; Cover them with a sauce made from vegetable juice, lemon juice, horseradish, chopped coriander leaves and, if desired, hot pepper. Leave to cool overnight in the refrigerator.
  • Coleslaw and beet salad: grate the beets without cooking them, as well as the cabbage. Season with a vinaigrette or yogurt topped with horseradish.
  • Or finely grate a red cabbage and mix it with a minced red onion, then season with a vinaigrette of walnut oil, lemon juice and horseradish.
  • Using a vegetable peeler, take slices from a fresh root, put them in ice water where they will curve nicely and serve them with the appetizers of your choice.
  • Horseradish Crusted Fish: Mix grated horseradish with breadcrumbs, dried thyme, salt and pepper. Pass the fish fillets in a beaten egg, then in the seasoned breadcrumbs, brown them in oil or butter, then finish cooking in the oven. The same can be done with veal cutlets, beef steaks or pork loin, omitting the beaten egg and using herbs other than thyme.
  • To prepare your own condiment, grate the root and mix in equal parts with vinegar (ideally rice, but also wine). As the vinegar stabilizes the flavor, the condiment will be sweeter if you mix it right after grating the root, while it will be more hot if you wait three or four minutes. To facilitate the task, we can wash, peel and dice the root that we will put in the blender container, covering them with very cold water or crushed ice. Start the blender and, if necessary, add water or ice. Remove excess water, then add vinegar (or lemon juice) and salt. Place the preparation in glass jars with a capacity of about ¼ liter and store in the refrigerator or freezer.


New Zealand-style Japanese
chocolate Always on the lookout for new products to attract customers, chocolate makers sometimes show a lot of imagination. For example, a New Zealand company offers chocolate filled with wasabi paste.
  • Wasabi paste is a must-have with sashimi and sushi , including vegetable sushi. In Japan, it is worked to give it the shape of a tree leaf, which is served as a garnish with a ginger rose.
  • Season a salad with very fresh red tuna and cubed avocado with a mayonnaise and a little wasabi. Serve on lettuce leaves and garnish with dry roasted black sesame seeds and ginger.
  • Wasabi sauce : soy sauce, mirin, bonito and sake flakes (which have been heated to evaporate the alcohol) and wasabi are heated to the boiling point. The sauce is then passed through a fine sieve and allowed to cool. It is served with grilled vegetables, a soft boiled egg or spinach purée.
  • Another sauce recipe: simmer chicken broth with chopped onion, garlic, carrots, apples, celery and soy sauce for an hour; drain, reduce by two-thirds, stir in the wasabi and serve on grilled meats (vegetables or meat).
  • Season cooked potatoes with a sauce made from sour cream or strained yogurt topped with wasabi.
  • Add a little wasabi to the miso soup .
  • Replace garlic garlic mayonnaise with the wasabi.
  • Add it to a homemade vinaigrette or mayonnaise , instead of the mustard.
  • Mix wasabi powder with rice vinegar and sesame oil, and drizzle with thin slices of cucumber .


The condiment made from grated root and vinegar will keep for a few months in the refrigerator. Make sure to close the container. You can also freeze it.

Fresh root: several months in sand in the cellar or in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator. Once started, wrap it in a damp paper or cloth.

The grated root can be stored in the freezer for a few months, but it will lose some of its spiciness.

Organic gardening

Unlike wasabi, which requires relatively warm temperatures and fairly complex cultivation techniques, horseradish is very easy to grow in our latitudes. It is multiplied by the roots, which are planted 7 cm or 8 cm deep and 30 cm apart, in rich, loosened soil in depth, in full sun. The root pieces to be planted should be 1 cm to 2 cm in diameter and 20 cm in length.

pH: 6.0 to 6.5.

It can be planted as soon as the ground is thawed (April or May in Quebec). Isolate it from the rest of the garden, as it can multiply quickly and behave like a weed.

The roots are harvested in late fall when the plant goes dormant. Leave at least one plant in the garden, in order to multiply it the following spring. Use a shovel to harvest the roots, wash them and let them dry for a few days in a dry and cool place. They can then be stored for the winter.

Ecology and environment

Various substances present in wasabi are currently being studied for their commercial potential. In particular, the root contains natural fungicides which could be useful both in the control of certain diseases of crops (for example, blackleg which affects canola and rapeseed) and as a preservative of construction wood. This is all in less chemical fungicides that would end up in the environment.

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