Interesting Facts About Horseradish

11 Interesting Facts About Horseradish

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Introduction

Horseradish is a spicy, flavorful root vegetable that has been used for centuries as a condiment and ingredient in many dishes around the world. Though it may bring tears to your eyes when grated fresh, horseradish is a versatile and healthy addition to many foods.

Read on to learn 11 fascinating facts about the history, uses, health benefits, and more of horseradish. This article will give you a new appreciation for this often-overlooked vegetable in your fridge or farmers market.

Interesting Facts About Horseradish

Interesting Facts About Horseradish

  1. Horseradish is not a radish, despite its name. Horseradish is a member of the mustard family, which also includes wasabi, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussels sprouts and cabbage. Its scientific name is Armoracia rusticana.
  2. Horseradish originated in Southeast Europe and Western Asia. It has been used for over 3,000 years, first documented in 1500 BC in Egyptian writings. The word “horseradish” comes from the German word for it, “meerrettich”. “Meer” means sea and “rettich” means radish.
  3. Horseradish contains potent phytochemicals that may have cancer-fighting properties. Compounds like glucosinolates and enzyme myrosinase are released when horseradish is crushed or cut, creating the pungent aroma and spicy flavor. These may suppress tumor growth and restrict blood supply to cancer cells.
  4. Freshly grated horseradish is the most potent. When exposed to heat and air, it quickly loses its robust flavor and health benefits. Prepared horseradish in a bottle contains vinegar as a preservative, significantly decreasing its cancer-fighting enzymes over time.
  5. Horseradish has antibacterial properties. The allyl isothiocyanate produced gives it natural antibiotic qualities, in addition to the cancer-fighting benefits. This can help fight harmful bacteria like E. coli, Listeria, and Staphylococcus.
  6. Horseradish may help with sinus congestion and upper respiratory infections. It clears nasal passages and relieves sinus pressure. The allyl isothiocyanate stimulates mucus membranes in the sinuses to expel mucus and open up airways.
  7. The leaves of the horseradish plant can be used like other greens. Young horseradish leaves can be harvested and used as a nutritious addition to salads, sandwiches, and soups, with a flavor similar to mustard greens with a kick of horseradish.
  8. Horseradish was used historically to treat lower back pain and arthritis. When applied topically, it triggers blood flow, warmth, and stimulation to relieve muscle and joint aches and pains in the lower back and affected areas. Mustard plasters were used for this.
  9. Horseradish is high in vitamin C. One cup of fresh grated horseradish root contains about 24 milligrams of vitamin C. That’s 30% of your recommended Daily Value. Vitamin C is an immune-boosting antioxidant that aids collagen production.
  10. The world record for eating horseradish is a whopping 70 tablespoons in 2 minutes! In 2012, Johnny Strange ate 70 tablespoons (nearly a quart) of horseradish in 2 minutes, setting the Guinness World Record. That’s a lot of sinus-clearing, eye-watering flavor!
  11. Horseradish sauce is a popular condiment for beef and seafood in the U.S. and Europe. In the U.S., it’s commonly served with roast beef. In the UK, it’s usually paired with oysters and smoked fish. In Poland and Ukraine it accompanies Easter dishes like beetroot soup or eggs and meat.
Interesting Facts About Horseradish

FAQ

What is horseradish and how is it used?

Horseradish is a root vegetable from the mustard family, known for its pungent flavor and aroma when grated. It’s commonly used as a condiment or ingredient in various dishes to add a spicy kick, such as in sauces for beef and seafood.

Can horseradish have health benefits?

Yes, horseradish contains phytochemicals that may have cancer-fighting properties, and it’s also rich in vitamin C. Its compounds are believed to help fight bacteria and could aid in relieving sinus congestion.

How do I store horseradish to maintain its potency?

Freshly grated horseradish is most potent. To preserve its flavor and benefits, store it in the refrigerator, ideally in an airtight container. Prepared horseradish with vinegar can last longer but will gradually lose potency over time.

Are there other ways to use horseradish besides as a condiment?

Yes, young horseradish leaves can be used in salads, sandwiches, and soups. Historically, horseradish has also been applied topically to help alleviate muscle and joint pain.

Conclusion

As you can see, horseradish is an exceptional and dynamic vegetable with a rich history and many uses. From its cancer-fighting compounds to respiratory relief to joint pain aid and more, horseradish packs a flavorful, healthy punch. I hope you’ve learned something new about this eye-watering root. The next time you’re grating fresh horseradish root in your kitchen, remember all it has to offer!


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