Wasabi gives food a kick that fans of Japanese cuisine crave. Eaten fresh as a green paste, it’s a favourite for sushi and other delicacies. Did you know that wasabi is also good for the health? Keep reading to learn all about it!
What is Wasabi?
Wasabi doesn’t just have a distinct and powerful taste, it also has prevailing effects on the health. Closely connected to horseradish and cabbage, wasabi is a member of the Brassicaceae family. It is sometimes known as Japanese horseradish, although that’s not factually correct as it’s not actually a species of horseradish. However, they share a powerful, spicy flavour! While you might associate spice with capsaicin, the chemical that gives chili peppers their kick, wasabi is built a little different.
The way wasabi releases chemical vapors that affect the sinuses is astounding. Because it’s unique flavour is not oil-based, the uncomfortable burning doesn’t last very long. In fact, most people who eat it say it can be pleasant and invigorating. It is commonly used as a kitchen condiment.
Wasabi’s smell comes from the plant’s chemical makeup, which features rich levels of allyl isothiocyanate. Its taste, on the other hand, comes from its isothiocyanate compounds. In nature, all of these chemicals work as a defense mechanism against any predators trying to consume the plant. However, this has evidently not worked very well on humans.
Uses of Wasabi Paste
Just like any other spice, wasabi may lose its flavor quickly as its essential oils evaporate. Mushing the plant into a paste can help keep its flavour and aroma intact. You can use this paste to:
- Prepare a wasabi dressing to serve over salads.
- Create a refreshing dip by combining it with mayonnaise and lemon juice. This is perfect for snap peas, asparagus, grilled seafood or meat.
- Serve alongside sashimi.
- Create a sauce for chicken, meat and seafood, similar to the preparation of horseradish.
- Fresh wasabi leaves and stalks can also be pickled.
Nutritional Value of Wasabi
100 grams of raw wasabi root contains:
|Principle||Amount||% Daily Value|
|Total Fat||0.63 grams||3%|
|Dietary Fiber||23.54 grams||62%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.203 milligrams||4%|
|Vitamin A||35 IU||1%|
|Vitamin C||41.9 milligrams||70%|
Health Benefits of Wasabi
Here are some of the most astounding health benefits of wasabi:
- Helps treat various respiratory illnesses: the gaseous component of wasabi is beneficial in treating various respiratory illnesses, helping clear the sinuses.
- Helps kill bacteria: the natural components in wasabi are beneficial in fighting off bacteria. In fact, in a recent study on the antibacterial properties of various vegetables and foods, wasabi was among the highest ranking foods.
- Helps treat arthritis: wasabi is beneficial in reducing inflammation and joint swelling, thus subduing the effects of arthritis.
- Helps protect heart health: wasabi can help lower bad cholesterol.
- Helps prevent cancer: this is one of the best health benefits of wasabi. Regular consumption may help prevent various types of cancer, thanks to its isothiocyanate antioxidants, which help eliminate free radicals.