Wasabi health benefits include prevents food poisoning, is naturally antiparasitic, checks cholesterol, prevents cavities, keeps you young, great for the circulatory system, curbs hypertension, tackle respiratory disorders, treats arthritis, cuts cancer risk, fights cold, and detoxifies the body.
You’ve heard wasabi is a great condiment for sushi. But they have superpowers when it comes to your skin, mouth, gut, and more. Curious what makes the green pungent paste so good for you? In this article, we’re highlighting 13 amazing health benefits wasabi offer.
Before we jump into the lowdown on why you should add more wasabi recipes to your plate, here are some interesting wasabi facts.
A little about the plant’s history
Native to Japan, wasabi was indispensable in Japanese cuisine and traditional medicine. During the Jomon period (around 14,000 BC to 400 BC), wasabi was restricted only to the ruling class in the country. Over the years, it made its way out of Palaces and Castles, and then out of Japan and became a part of global cuisine.
Wasabi isn’t horseradish
Wasabi belongs to the Brassica family, which includes cabbage, mustard, and horseradish. So, chances are that most wasabi found on the supermarket is actually a mixture of wasabi’s cousins – not the real Wasabi japonica. The ‘fake’ wasabi is over-pungent, bitter and has harsh burning sensation; whereas the ‘real’ one is subtle and delicate.
It is a superfood
A one-ounce serving (28 grams) of wasabi contains 30.5 calories and 0.2 grams fat. A diet low in calories and fat can go a long way toward keeping you healthy. You’ll get 1.3 grams of protein in one ounce of wasabi i.e. 3% of DV. That same one-ounce wasabi gives 9% DV of dietary fiber, which is essential to keep gut and heart healthy.
In terms of minerals, wasabi contains calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, and potassium which are all necessary for a balanced diet. It is also a powerhouse of vitamins including, Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C, and folate. Plus, it has high levels of isothiocyanates – an antioxidant that offers a plethora of health benefits. Best of all, it has zero cholesterol!
Wasabi Nutrition Information
A cup of raw wasabi (130 g) contains about:
- Calories: 142 (7% of DV)
- Carbohydrates: 30.6 g
- Protein: 6.2 g
- Fat: 0.8 g
- Fiber: 10.1 g
- Vitamin C: 5 mg (91% of DV)
- Manganese: 0.5 mg (25% of DV)
- Magnesium: 89.7 mg (22% of DV)
- Potassium: 738 mg (21% of DV)
- Vitamin B6: 0.4 mg (18% of DV)
- Calcium: 166 mg (17% of DV)
- Zinc: 2.1 mg (14% of DV)
- Thiamine: 0.2 mg (11% of DV)
- Phosphorus: 104 mg (10% of DV)
- Copper: 0.2 mg (10% of DV)
- Riboflavin: 0.1 mg (9% of DV)
- Iron: 1.3 mg (7% of DV)
Long story short: Include wasabi into your diet. It will increase nutrient intake and positively affect your overall health.
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13 Incredible Health Benefits of Wasabi
1. Wasabi Prevents Food Poisoning
More than a condiment, wasabi was used for its various medicinal properties – says The Honzo Waymo, Japan’s oldest botanical dictionary. Believed to be compiled in 918, it has numerous references to wasabi’s use as an antidote for food poisoning. And, centuries later, modern-day science has proved this to be true.
Wasabi contains allyl isothiocyanate which inhibits the growth of Salmonella sp., E.coli, H. pylori, and Staphylococcus aureus – the bacteria causing food poisoning.
Eat sushi or sashimi…with wasabi!
2. Naturally Antiparasitic
Isothiocyanates (ITCs) make wasabi a natural anti-parasitic food. It is effective against Anisakis parasites present in cod, salmon, squid, and other seafood. When eaten raw or partially cooked, they may cause painful gastrointestinal symptoms, bowel obstruction and even anaphylaxis (allergy).
Since wasabi is loaded with ITCs you can enjoy raw fish recipes without worrying about parasitic infections.
3. Keeps Cholesterol in Check
Wasabi is anti-hypercholesterolemic, too. Meaning it’s your best bet to keep cholesterol in check. In vitro and in vivo studies showed decreased LDL levels in hypercholesterolemic rats fed with a diet containing wasabi root.
Consuming wasabi could, therefore, assist in cholesterol control. This also means, controlling other diseases like stroke and atherosclerosis is as a breeze when one eats wasabi regularly.
4. Prevents Cavities
A cosmetic reason to smile the next time you eat Sushi! A Japanese study led by Dr. Hideki Masuda found that isothiocyanate in wasabi helps to prevent tooth decay by inhibiting the growth of Streptococcus mutans. Apparently, isothiocyanate interferes with sugar-dependent adherence of the bacterium to teeth and thus protects from decay or cavities.
Want to prevent cavities? Don’t ignore the bright green wasabi paste!
5. Wasabi Keeps You Young
Another great reason not to turn up your nose at the thought of eating wasabi! Anti-aging benefits of wasabi are accredited to 6-methylthiohexyl isothiocyanate (6-MSITC), a sulfinyl compound present in it. 6-MSITC helps the body lower reactive oxygen. Reactive oxygen has a direct link with many cancers and weakening of the body. 6-MSITC also prevents pollen allergies and improve circulation & reflexes.
A teaspoon of wasabi a day keeps aging at bay!
6. Great for Circulatory System
As well as keeping you younger, 6-MSITC that we mentioned earlier also works to inhibit blood clot formation. This, in turn, reduces your risk of cardiac arrest and strokes. The beneficial circulatory effects are also praised for keeping the skin soft and clear.
So, to maintain cardiac health, you should make it a point to include wasabi in your plate.
7. Curbs Hypertension
The high potassium content in wasabi is important to regulate blood pressure and blood flow. Potassium deficiency causes hypertension and can increase the risk of cardiac diseases and stroke. In addition, wasabi is low in sodium. High potassium-low sodium is great for relaxing blood vessels, increasing blood flow, and protecting from hypertension.
So, it’s better to eat them, isn’t it?
8. Tackle Respiratory Disorders
Consuming wasabi can decongest and disinfect your respiratory tract thanks to gaseous allyl isothiocyanate present. Studies also show that isothiocyanate has anti-inflammatory properties that can prohibit infections or fight asthma.
Next time sniffles attack you, maybe try eating wasabi-spiked recipes.
9. Treats Arthritis
Because of its excellent anti-inflammatory properties, consuming wasabi is a natural way to treat inflammatory conditions like arthritis. By preventing platelet aggregation, the anti-inflammatory compounds block prostaglandin, the pain & inflammation triggering neurotransmitter.
Eat wasabi leaves (read: regularly) to calm the aching joints.
10. Cuts Cancer Risk
Wasabi root could prevent cancer development in the body, says research. The anti-cancerous property of wasabi is attributed to 6-MITC, which induces cell death or apoptosis in stomach cancer cells and monoblastic leukemia cells. 6-MSITC is also effective at flushing out free radicals – the prime reason for cancer development.
Evidence from in vitro studies shows that wasabi is great against breast cancer as well as melanomas.
11. Fights Colds and Allergies
Interestingly enough, wasabi stem and leaves are loaded with Vitamin C and other antioxidants to boost the immune system. Just 100 g of wasabi contains 70% of the daily recommended amount of Vitamin C. You’ll be glad to know that wasabi contains sinigrin, antibiotic responsible clearing congestion, thinning out mucus, reduce inflammation and stimulate the immune system. Not just that, sinigrin is anti-cancerous, too.
In short, throw wasabi in sauces, dips—or even add it to mashed potatoes for keep away cold and allergies.
12. Maintains Healthy Digestive System
Wasabi is high in fiber and helps remove toxins, regulate bowel movements, and reduce constipation symptoms. It also promotes bile production to boost liver and gallbladder functioning. Nevertheless, consuming too much may cause acid reflux, diarrhea, or nausea in some individuals. Limiting the intake is the key, here.
13. Detoxifies Body
Toxins and carcinogens can cause molecular damages. And, at times, the toxin accumulation goes beyond your liver’s detoxifying capacity. In such instances, you may rely on wasabi as it is a natural detoxifier. It effectively expels toxins from liver tissues and digestive system to keep you healthy.
Side Effects of Wasabi
Now, you may be wondering, “is there any side effects of eating wasabi?” Here’s what we know:
- Bad for gastritis – isothiocyanate might irritate your stomach lining and may worsen existing gastritis.
- Allergies – If you’ve never tried it, consult your doctor before adding more wasabi to the diet.
- Slows down blood clotting – If you have hemorrhoid, it’s better to avoid wasabi as it may slow down blood clotting. The pungent compounds can damage sensitive blood vessels, too.
- Liver damage – Wasabi contains hepatotoxin, which isn’t harmful in small doses. But if you intend to eat more wasabi than usual amounts, it can damage your liver.
- Acid reflux – Due to its spicy pungent profile, wasabi falls under foods that cause acid reflux. If you have stomach ulcers, gastritis, heartburn, or digestive disorders, limit or do not eat wasabi at all. It is bad for pregnant women as well.
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The green looking paste that accompanies Japanese dishes such as sushi, sashimi or soba is an iconic condiment. It adds the right punch of spiciness to bland recipes, which is a lot healthier than processed mustard.
Use freshly grated wasabi to spice-up bland recipes and to harness the chock full of health benefits it offers. Wasabi loses its flavor in just 20-25 minutes. So, serve it immediately once you made the paste.
Remember, wasabi won’t affect your health when it is in moderation.