When I think of horseradish, I instinctively associate it with that supremely tangy shrimp cocktail sauce. To be quite honest, it never even crossed my mind that it would be used for anything else...until now! Not only has this plant's pungent properties been used for centuries to aid in a great number of respiratory conditions, but it's also a potent source of cancer-fighting nutrients. Who knew?
Turn Up the Heat!
Alike its family members, wasabi and mustard, horseradish is dang spicy! When it's thick root is sliced, enzymes are broken down which releases mustard oil. If you've ever taken a deep whiff of it, you definitely know that burning sensation in your sinuses! While it may feel unpleasant, it sure can help to clear up congestion from colds or allergies. It has been used in many cultures in the past to help fight off illnesses, and tea made from its roots can be used as an expectorant (it will help to break up that nasty mucus).
This tangy heat factor also stimulates circulation and blood flow. It can be used in external rubs to not only relieve that chest congestion, but also to relieve muscle and joint pain.
The Cancer Fighter
First off, horseradish is packed with phytochemicals and nutrients like vitamin C that provide a major boost to the immune system. Alike other cruciferous vegetables it also contains these amazing antioxidant compounds called glucosinolates which inhibit the mutation of healthy cells into cancerous ones when those dangerous free radicals start trying to run the show [I]. These compounds have also been shown to be effective against dangerous types of fungi and bacteria, as they act as a natural antibiotic. Horseradish even has 10 times more glucosinolates than broccoli!
Not only can horseradish clear the sinuses, it can also help cleanse the whole body by stimulating urination which helps the kidneys to successfully filer out toxins. These diuretic properties can help one to get rid of a painful urinary tract infection (UTI) and other types of harmful bacterial issues.
How Should I Use Horseradish?
Many of us are familiar with the jarred form, but horseradish can also be purchased in its natural state as a root, or as dried powder. In terms of using it within dishes, horseradish can be used to add that special spice to anything from sandwiches to stews.
As a condiment, try making a batch of this Horseradish Sauce. Just be careful, as it will surely put hair on your chest and send waves of heat into your sinuses!
As a tasty dressing, try out this Butter Lettuce Salad with Smoked Trout and Herb Dressing recipe. Sour cream is used to help turn down the heat a bit for those who need to start out slow.
For an immune boost during flu season, give this Turmeric Fire Cider a shot. The combination of horseradish with garlic, ginger, onions and turmeric is seriously a super power!
What creative ways do you use horseradish? We'd love to know!
[I] Jane V. Higdon, Barbara Delage, David E. Williams, and Roderick H. Dashwood. "Cruciferous Vegetables and Human Cancer Risk: Epidemiologic Evidence and Mechanistic Basis". Pharmacol Res. 2007 Mar; 55(3): 224–236. Web. June. 2016. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2737735/>.