(NaturalHealth365) Horseradish is a key flavor in prepared foods such as potato salad, sandwiches and sauces. It can add zest to dips and vegetable dishes. However, research out of the University of Illinois has found eating horseradish can actually help you to inhibit cancer cell growth.
How does it work? This is due to its high content of glucosinolates, which are enzymes known to have cancer-fighting properties. Glucosinolates assist the body in detoxifying – at the cellular level – and eliminating harmful free radicals.
The ‘anticancer effect’ of eating horseradish
While broccoli (which is in the same family as horseradish) is known for its glucosinolate content, horseradish has 10 times the amount. Horseradish is pretty pungent, so (fortunately) a little goes a long way both in terms of flavor and cancer-fighting benefits.
For the study, the research team looked at 11 different horseradish strains, including U.S. No. 1, No. 2 and Fancy. (These designations are based on the length and diameter of the horseradish root.)
Horseradish can fight cancer so well due to its detoxification ability as well as its high absorption rate; around 90 percent of this compound is effectively absorbed after ingestion.
Now, for the history lesson: horseradish is native to western Asia and southeastern Europe but is also grown in the temperate parts of North and South America, Africa and New Zealand. It is rich in phytochemicals, especially glucosinolates – which are what give horseradish its signature pungent flavor.
In fact, it can contain up to eight different types of glucosinolates.
Horseradish has long history of medicinal use
Once in the body, glucosinolates are broken down into powerful derivatives called indoles and isothiocyanates – which help us avoid cancer cell growth. In addition to its cancer-fighting properties, horseradish contains key nutrients like calcium, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium and vitamin C.
Horseradish root is most commonly ground into a spice and prepared as a condiment. However, it has also been used medicinally for over 3,000 years.
For example, the ancient Romans and Greeks used it to ease muscle pain, and it was taken internally for cramps and coughs. It is even said to have properties as an aphrodisiac.
However, by around the 16th century, it began to be used in cooking and blended into condiments and sauces.
Since then, horseradish has been used to treat asthma, colds, toothache, colic and scurvy (because of its vitamin C content.) Horseradish poultices relieve pain through topical application, and it has even been infused into milk for use in skin care.
Important to note: Horseradish offers potent antimicrobial and antibiotic properties.
Concentrated glucosinolates extracted from horseradish could help fight cancer even more effectively
The recent research confirming the ability of horseradish to fight cancer has potentially exciting applications. Its glucosinolates could potentially be extracted and made into a concentrated supplement or medication to help prevent and slow down the growth of cancer cells.
Until then, consider using more of this zesty condiment in your cooking and food preparations. Never forget, living a healthy lifestyle is always worth the effort.
Sources for this article include:
Food & Nutrition
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