Have you had your horseradish today? Other members of the brassica family have been hogged the spotlight for years, but it turns out the humble horseradish plant may be the true unsung hero of the brassica vegetables.
Everyone knows how great broccoli is for your health. Mustard seeds and collard greens have been lauded as superfoods. Cabbage and turnips receive their fair share of praise too. American’s have been having a renewed love affair with cauliflower and Brussels sprouts for the last couple of years.
And it’s true, those—and the rest of brassica veggies—are terrific for your health.
Horseradish rich in cancer-fighting glucosinolates
But horseradish is often overlooked, never making anyone’s “best dressed” list for good-for-you foods. And that’s a real shame, because researchers say the humble root veggie could help you fight cancer.
You may have heard of glucosinolates before. Broccoli is rich in these cancer-fighting compounds, but horseradish is swimming in glucosinolates. In fact, there are ten times the amount of glucosinolates in horseradish as there are in broccoli!
These powerful compounds, which can that can help erase cancer-causing free-radicals, are the key to the horseradish’s health benefits. University of Illinois researchers have now linked horseradish to the activation of specific detoxifying compounds in the body.
Now we know what you’re probably thinking. Even if you happen to like the spicy hot bite of horseradish, you’re never going to eat a plate of the stuff even if it does fight cancer.
Well, the good news is you don’t have to. In fact, just a teaspoon of horseradish, the same amount that many folks would use to spice up their favorite dish, is enough to reap this veggie’s cancer-fighting benefits.
Fight free-radicals with horseradish root
But there’s a small catch. All fresh horseradish can help fight cancer, but to get the most benefits from horseradish you’ll need to make sure you’re getting the right kind.
Based on the length and diameter of the roots, the USDA divides fresh horseradish up into three different grades…
- U.S. Fancy: Minimum length of 8 inches, and no less than 1 1/2 inches or more in diameter
- U.S. No 1: Minimum 6 inches long when the diameter is 1-1/4 inches or more
- U.S. No 2: no less than 4 inches in length and not less than 1/2 inch in diameter.
When researchers compared eleven different samples of horseradish, the highest grade—U.S. Fancy—came out the clear winner, according to the study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.
The U.S. Fancy had significantly more cancer-fighting glucosinolates overall. The U.S. Fancy was also higher in allyl isothiocyanate (AITC) which is a stronger cancer-fighter than the 1-cyano 2,3-epithiopropoane (CETP) that the second tier U.S. No 1 was richer in.
Anti-cancer compounds in U.S. Fancy horseradish highly absorbable
According to researchers AITC not only fights cancer through detoxification, it’s also highly absorbable, with around 90 percent of it getting put to use by your body. So adding horseradish to your menu can help you fight cancer naturally.
But finding a commercial horseradish product that doesn’t have a bunch of unwanted additives is a challenge. Next time you’re in the grocery store flip over a few bottles of “horseradish sauce” and you’ll find most…if not all… contain artificial flavors and even corn syrup.
Make your own homemade horseradish
Your best bet is to make your own homemade horseradish using fresh horseradish, a dash of salt and vinegar, the only other ingredients you really need (they keep your horseradish from turning into a bitter mushy mess).
Unfortunately you’re not likely to find horseradish graded at your local supermarket, so if you want to try using the U.S. Fancy grade you’ll probably have to rely on measuring them yourself. If you can pick up horseradish at a local farm or Farmer’s Market you might have better luck finding U.S. Fancy.
Here’s a recipe to try. But do keep in mind fresh horseradish is hot, so when preparing and using it treat it like you would hot peppers.
|This delicious hot and pleasantly bitter homemade horseradish is so much better than store bought. Try it and you’ll never go back.
• Put all ingredients — horseradish root, vinegar and salt — into an electric food processor or blender.
• Process/blend until all ingredients are blended together. (You can add a teaspoon of water if needed)
• Cover and store the horseradish in your refrigerator. (Careful to not get any into your eyes!)
• Variation: Grate in a small beet to add a touch of natural sweetness and a pop of extra flavor.
The horseradish tends to mellow a little after a day or two of refrigeration so if you prefer the bite serve right away. If you like a slightly milder version wait a day.
You can also simply grate some fresh horseradish to add to dishes. Some folks prefer to grate into a plastic bag or under a stove hood because, like onions, the fumes can be pretty strong.
Stir a teaspoon into burgers, meatloaf or meatballs.
Serve with prime rib or other steak.
Stir into tunafish.
Spread some on a sandwich.
Use in Deviled Eggs
Use in a homemade cocktail sauce with tomato sauce and lemon juice to serve with shrimp or seafood.
Stir into mashed potatoes.
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