Have you ever noticed a fiery hot paste that comes along when you order sushi? That paste like a thing is wasabi root! It is generally made into a paste and served with sushi. It gives sushi the flavor, and hot taste a.
So what is this wasabi? Wasabi is a small herb that is about 2 cm tall from the surface of the soil. It has broad leaves and can be grown only in certain areas. The cultivation of wasabi is rather difficult as only certain areas are suited for its growth. In Japan, Utougi, in Shizuoka Prefecture is considered as the perfect place for wasabi cultivation.
The fleshy rhizome is ready for harvesting after 18 to 24 months from the time of its implantation. It measures about 4-8 inches lengthwise and 1.5 to 2 inches in diameter. The external surface of wasabi is green, and all the parts of this plant are edible.
Did You Know
What Is the Nutritional Value of Wasabi Root?
The following table gives us the nutritional value of Wasabi root per 100g.
Wasabi is a very good source of minerals. It contains potassium, Iron, copper, manganese, and calcium. Calcium content in wasabi root per 100gms is 128mg. However, the potassium content is as high as 568mg per 100g serving. Potassium helps to regulate heart and blood pressure. Manganese, present in wasabi serves as an antioxidant by the human body.
The vitamin C levels of wasabi root (41.9 mg per 100 g) are twice as that of horseradish(1). The allyl isothiocyanate gives the famous pungent character to wasabi plant. The compound of wasabi has anti-cancer and anti-mutant properties.
What Are the Top 10 Health Benefits of Wasabi?
Let us take a look at some of the benefits of consuming wasabi.
1. Prevents Cancer
Wasabi root contains isothiocyanates. These are formed from the glucosinolates after the plant is cut or harvested. According to a study “Colon cancer proliferating desulfosinigrin in wasabi” conducted, it is said that these glucosinolates reduce cancer risk.
The isothiocyanate antioxidants eliminate free radicals in our body systems. 6-MITC, a form of isothiocyanate inhibits the expansion of leukemia and stomach cancer cells.
Similarly, 6-MITC is also effective against melanoma(2) and breast cancer cells. All these facts have led researchers in using wasabi as a small preventive method against cancer.
2. Protects Heart Health
The anti-hypercholesterolemic properties of wasabi plants help in lowering the cholesterol levels. It, in turn, reduces the risk of a heart attack. Wasabi plants also reduce platelet aggregation. Platelet aggregation is a form of a blood clot.
These clots are the main reason for heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases.
[Read: Warning Signs for Heart Attack]
3. Treats Arthritis
The isothiocyanate component is a powerful antioxidant and reduces the inflammation of joints, ligaments that contribute to the arthritis pain. Wasabi also reduces the risk of osteoporosis and aggregation at weak points that causes discomfort to the body.
4. Kills Harmful Bacteria
Wasabi also treats bacterial infections. In a recent study,” Bactericidal activity of wasabi (Wasabia japonica) against Helicobacter pylori”, it is concluded that wasabi has a component called AIT, which effectively kills H.pylori. Wasabi was ranked the most successful in treating staph infections and E.coli. The isothiocyanates also help in neutralizing the bacteria in our body.
5. Treats Respiratory Conditions
Allyl isothiocyanate, a gaseous component released by wasabi, causes a powerful reaction in the nasal passages and sinuses. When this component reaches the nasal passage, the sinuses get cleared. It inhibits the proliferation of pathogens in the respiratory tract that causes pneumonia and influenza.
6. Improves Gut Health
Wasabi plant is high in fiber and helps in bulking up the stools. It improves digestion thereby improving overall gut health. Also, it prevents gut inflammation and diverticulitis(3).
7. Prevents Aging Effects
Wasabi root contains sulfinyl that helps you in attaining the perfect look. This component is a powerful antioxidant that lowers reactive oxygen in the body. It gives you flawless skin and reduces the effects of aging.
8. Acts as a Natural Sanitizer
Since it fights bacterial infections, you can also use wasabi as a natural sanitizer.
9. Improves Blood Circulation
As we have seen earlier, wasabi reduces blood clots in veins and arteries. It increases the blood circulation in the body and keeps the skin soft and clear.
10. Helps in Losing Weight
It contains nutrients that nourish the body and improve digestive health. When cooked with peas, they work as low-calorie snacks that can replace a bowl of French fries easily.
Things to Consider While Buying Wasabi Root
While buying a wasabi root, one has to be careful not to choose the cheaper look alike. A real wasabi root provides nasal vapor for only about 15 minutes. Always grate the wasabi root only when you need it. This variety of wasabi isn’t very cheap and does not get widely exported from Japan. For your daily needs, you can instead use a wasabi tube for cooking.
[Read: Benefits of Taro Root]
DIY Recipes of Wasabi
Here are some wasabi recipes that you can try at the comfort of your home.
Grilled Salmon with Wasabi-Ginger Mayonnaise
- 1 ½ lime
- Half cup mayonnaise
- Two teaspoons ginger freshly grated
- 1 ½ tablespoon wasabi paste
- Salt and freshly grounded black pepper
- 4 6-ounce salmon fillets skinless
- Coconut Oil for a grill
- In a bowl, mix lime juice, lime zest, wasabi paste, mayonnaise, ginger, and 1.4 teaspoon salt. Stir and mix well.
- Pull out the bones in the salmon fillet and season it with pepper and salt. Add two tablespoon of the mayonnaise mixture.
- Prepare a hot grill fire on medium heat.
- Grill salmon for 4 minutes until it turns crisp. Turn the salmon and grill for six minutes.
- Two tablespoons olive oil
- Two cups dried whole peas
- Two tablespoons Tahini
- Four teaspoons Wasabi powder
- Two tablespoons Rice vinegar
- Two teaspoons Dijon mustard
- Cover and soak peas overnight.
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.
- Drain and bake the peas for 5 hours, until the peas appear crisp and dry.
- Combine the wasabi powder, rice vinegar, tahini, and mustard in a mixing bowl.
- Combine mixture with hot peas and make sure they get evenly coated.
- Bake peas for another 15 minutes until it is dry.
Wasabi Ginger and Garlic Roasted Red Potatoes
- Two pounds red potatoes cut into half
- Three teaspoons wasabi powder
- One full head of garlic
- Two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- One teaspoon ginger, minced
- One to two teaspoons water
- Sea salt and fresh black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Peel the garlic cloves
- Place potatoes and garlic in a large pot. Parboil them
- Create a thick paste by adding wasabi mixture and half teaspoon water
- Drain water from potatoes.
- Mix the potatoes and garlic mixture with the wasabi.
- Bake in the oven until golden brown. Flip it on both sides.
What Are the Side Effects of Wasabi Roots?
The following things have to be taken care of before consuming Wasabi roots
- Buy a wasabi root and not horseradish. The horseradish may cause a rather burning effect in the nasal passages and result in watery eyes.
- Do not overconsume wasabi. It may cause gastrointestinal problems and cause diarrhea and nausea. In some conditions, it may cause respiratory issues as well.
- If you are about to undergo surgery in 2 weeks, avoid eating wasabi as it can slow down the blood clot.
The wasabi plant surely has more health benefits to offer. From fighting deadly cancer to acting as a natural sanitizer, wasabi is a blessing. With all these endless benefits, the preparation time of wasabi dishes is easy. And there are almost zero side effects when you consume the wasabi root. The only thing we have to ensure is choosing the right wasabi root as there are many fake varieties available today.