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January 15, 2021
horseradish health benefits

Many would be surprised to learn that horseradish is not actually an ordinary radish , but a separate member of the same Brasicaceae family, just like mustard, kale, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts. If you are a lover of strong flavors and are looking forward to trying something new, give horseradish a try. In this article we explain what its nutritional properties are , what health benefits it has, what you should take into account when buying, storing and preparing this vegetable, what are the possible contraindications , among other information of interest.

What is horseradish?

The horseradish ( Armoracia rusticana ) or horseradish is a cruciferous plant that belongs to the same family of mustard, wasabi, broccoli and cabbage. Although it is native to Southeastern Europe and Western Asia, today it is popular throughout the world. It is grown mainly for its large, white tuber , which is often used as a vegetable and spice in cooking, or as a home remedy in natural medicine.

Intact horseradish root has hardly any aroma, however when cut or grated its cells produce highly penetrating volatile compounds, especially allyl isothiocyanate (mustard oil). When this compound comes into contact with air, it oxidizes, generates heat and produces a tear effect that irritates the mucous membranes of the nose and eyes.

Nutritional properties

One tablespoon of grated horseradish contains approximately: 1

  • Calories: 7
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: 7.9mg
  • Omega-6 fatty acids: 42.7mg
  • Fiber: 0.5g (2%)
  • Sodium: 47.1mg (2%)
  • Vitamina C: 3.7 mg (6%)
  • Folic acid: 8.6mcg (2%)

Health benefits

In addition to its use as a condiment in sauces and dressings, this spicy root is attributed with different medicinal properties, ranging from the treatment of respiratory diseases to the prevention of cancer.

1. Antioxidant power

Consuming foods rich in antioxidants is our first line of combat in preventing and counteracting oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Precisely, horseradish root contains different compounds with antioxidant action, hence its regular consumption helps us prevent the development of numerous diseases.2

Some of the antioxidants found in this tuber are known to be antimutagenic, that is, they protect the body from mutations. There is scientific evidence showing that mutations may be responsible for heart disease and other common degenerative disorders.3

2. Antimicrobial properties

The oil responsible for the spicy flavor of this radish (as well as mustard and wasabi ) is called allyl isothiocyanate or mustard oil. It is a colorless oil that has been attributed a very powerful antimicrobial effect, capable of fighting a wide spectrum of pathogens.4

Horseradish root also supports phagocytes, a type of cell that absorbs and neutralizes pathogenic bacteria, thus helping to fight infection and disease. 5

3. Relief of respiratory symptoms

Due to the antibiotic properties of horseradish, its meat has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat bronchitis, sinusitis, cough and the common cold. 6 . In a German study, the action of a medicine based on horseradish root was proven, in comparison with conventional antibiotics. The findings showed a similar result between the two treatments, especially for acute sinusitis and bronchitis.7 Considering that conventional antibiotics cause adverse effects and lead to increased resistance by microorganisms, these findings are exciting.

On the other hand, the pungent smell of horseradish is also beneficial in these cases, as it helps to unclog the nostrils and expel the mucus trapped in the upper respiratory system, relieving sinus symptoms and speeding up recovery.

4. Treatment of urinary tract infections

Once again, thanks to the antibiotic properties of its tuber, horseradish can also be used as a treatment for acute urinary infections, obtaining even better results than some conventional antibiotic treatments. 8 Sinigrin glycoside, present in this radish, is a compound known for its diuretic effect, hence it helps prevent kidney and urinary infections in general.9

5. Good digestive health

Horseradish contains enzymes that stimulate digestion, regulate bowel movements, and reduce constipation. In addition, it is said that its consumption can stimulate the production of bile in the gallbladder, which helps to better digest fats and lower cholesterol levels.10 Although it is not high, its contribution of dietary fiber is another digestive benefit to consider.

6. Anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties

Although more scientific evidence is needed to corroborate these therapeutic uses, the truth is that in traditional medicine horseradish is widely used topically to relieve pain caused by injuries, inflammatory processes, and even arthritis. 11 In fact, it is said that this root was already used in ancient Greece to relieve back pain, as well as in the southern US colonies to relieve headaches.

7. Cancer prevention

The glucosinolate compounds in horseradish are not only responsible for its spicy flavor, but also for its anti-cancer power. Numerous studies have shown the properties of horseradish to make us more resistant to cancer12 , as well as to promote cell death of cancer cells in cases of breast and colon cancer. Its ability to prevent oxidative damage related to free radicals also plays a role in fighting this disease.1314

Fun fact: horseradish has 10 times more glucosinolates than broccoli; That is why even in small quantities it can bring us many benefits.

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History, origin and interesting facts

Native to Southeast Europe and Western Asia, horseradish is now popular around the world. In the Middle Ages, both the root and the leaves of the plant were used as a medicinal remedy to treat numerous health problems, including urinary tract infections and respiratory diseases.

Likewise, it was widely used as a seasoning for meats, especially in countries such as Scandinavia, Germany and Great Britain. Later it was introduced to North America by European colonizers, where it also gained popularity for its culinary and medicinal value.

Fast facts about horseradish that you probably didn’t know:

  • Horseradish can stain silver. Avoid wearing silver plates, silverware, or jewelry when using or preparing it.
  • Although it is also known as horse radish, horseradish is actually poisonous to horses.
  • One study showed that an enzyme in horseradish, called peroxidase, can help clean wastewater thanks to its ability to remove a variety of contaminants.
  • Much of the horseradish production – planting, growing, and harvesting – is still done by hand.

To learn about other types of radish Visit: Common Radish , Radish black and Daikon (white or Japanese radish)

Purchase, selection, storage, consumption and preparation

Buy and choose the best horseradish

Although fresh horseradish is usually available in markets most of the year, the best time to buy it is during the spring. It is recommended to choose roots between 5 and 10 cm wide ( a full root can be up to 50 cm long ). Always opt for a section of the tuber that is firm to the touch, without soft spots, green or moldy spots. You should also avoid overly dry and wilted roots, as they are probably not the freshest. Buy only the amount that you will use in a reasonable time.

Horseradish can also be purchased prepared, usually pickled and salted, or in the form of sauces combined with other ingredients. These include:

  • Horseradish prepared cream style
  • Horseradish sauces as sole ingredient
  • Horseradish and beetroot sauce
  • Mustard and horseradish sauce
  • Dried horseradish
  • Horseradish sauce for seafood cocktails

The two distinguishing characteristics in this type of product are the presence of additional ingredients and the texture (fine or coarse). The true horseradish lover is said to have several favorites, depending on the end use.

To savor the full flavor of processed horseradish, it must be fresh and of high quality. Please note that the color may vary from white to creamy beige.

Storing horseradish

Storage of horseradish is similar to that of other roots, for example ginger . It should be stored in a container or plastic bag in the refrigerator, but this will not prevent it from gradually starting to dry out once it is cut. It is recommended to consume it within one or two weeks from the date of purchase; once it is cut, it is best to use it within a few days.

Note: Unrefrigerated horseradish loses its flavor. Remember what the saying goes: “to keep it hot (spicy), you have to keep it cold.”

Freezing is generally not recommended unless the horseradish has already been grated. If this is the case, it can remain frozen for up to 6 months. Similar to any other type of storage, the longer that passes, the less intense the flavor and aroma of the root will be.

Prepare and consume horseradish

To prepare homemade horseradish, the root must be peeled using a hard brush, until the dark skin is removed. It can then be diced for grating by hand, but it will be much faster if added to the blender or food processor. This not only speeds up the process, but also results in a very pleasant creamy consistency and ideal for sandwiches and meats. The finer the texture of this paste, the spicier the radish will be.

Once the zest is obtained, it only remains to add a little white vinegar ( stabilizes the flavor ) and salt to taste. Note that for a milder horseradish, the vinegar should be added immediately.

This preparation is always tastier when the radish is freshly grated. Although there are products on the market, grating the root at home just before using it is the best variant if you want to take advantage of all its flavor.

In case you do not get a fresh horseradish root, you can use horseradish powder. Like any other spice, this powder is obtained after drying and grinding the root. Making horseradish paste from powder is simply a matter of combining it with water and vinegar or lemon juice. It is not recommended to buy a large quantity of it, as it begins to lose its potency as time passes.

Helpful tips

  • The mixture should be stored in an airtight container, preferably glass; thus it can be kept for up to 6 weeks in the refrigerator.
  • Try to prepare your horseradish in a ventilated room, preferably with an open window. The volatile oils of this root are irritating to the nose and eyes; in fact, some people prefer to process it in the garage or other place where there is more air flow than in the kitchen.
  • It is best to use the horseradish zest immediately. Once exposed to air or heat, their meat begins to lose acrimony, darken and turn bitter. Whenever possible, prepare only the amount that you are going to consume at the moment.
  • Serve the desired amount in a glass or ceramic container, immediately returning the tightly closed jar to the refrigerator.

It’s definitely a fun ingredient that can be played with a lot in the kitchen. It can be combined well with meat, fish, deviled eggs, spicy potatoes, and included in the preparation of homemade sauces, creams and mayonnaise.

Contraindications and possible side effects

Although horseradish can be safely consumed in small doses as part of a balanced diet, there are some contraindications and possible adverse effects to consider. 15

  • Horseradish contains mustard oil, which in some people can be incredibly irritating to the skin, mouth, nose, throat, digestive system, and urinary tract. When using it topically, it is best to start with less than 2 percent preparation to avoid serious side effects.
  • Children may be more affected by the intensity of the taste and smell of horseradish. Its consumption should be avoided in children under 5 years of age.
  • There is no research to show the safety of mustard oil for pregnant or nursing women, hence it is recommended to avoid consuming horseradish during this stage.
  • People with kidney problems should not eat horseradish on a regular basis, as its diuretic effect can be detrimental in some cases.
  • People with digestive problems, such as ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease, infections, or similar conditions, should not include horseradish in their regular diet.
  • People who have an underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism) should also consume it with caution, as it is believed that its consumption can worsen this condition.

Horseradish images

Frequent questions

Can I substitute ginger for horseradish?

Although eating horseradish is definitely not the same as eating ginger, the latter can be used to substitute for the potent flavor of the former. Freshly grated ginger root or powdered ginger will add a spicy touch to any preparation, making it ideal for dishes of mild to moderate intensity. If the recipe calls for horseradish oil, it can also be substituted for similar amounts of ginger oil.

Read all about ginger in:  Ginger – Properties, Benefits, Contraindications, How to take it and More

Are horseradish and wasabi the same?

No. Although they belong to the same family and share similarities in appearance and taste, they are completely different plants.

Another big difference refers to the edible part; of horseradish the root is consumed, while of wasabi the stem (rhizome) is used. In terms of taste, both products are spicy, but Japanese wasabi is much more intense than horseradish.

On the other hand, horseradish or rustican is grown all over the world, with pre-made products widely available in stores and supermarkets. By contrast, wasabi is only grown in Japan and is a relatively rare commodity. Precisely due to its limited availability, in many restaurants wasabi is often substituted with horseradish grated.

Read all about wasabi in:  Wasabi – Properties, Benefits, How it is made, Origin, Cultivation and More

Is horseradish good for weight loss?

When you want to lose weight, it is advisable to eat digestive foods, which accelerate the metabolism, facilitate the elimination of toxins and avoid fluid retention. Radishes provide all these benefits, hence it can be an excellent supplement for weight loss.

According to several testimonials on the internet, the following recipe helps you lose weight:

Are needed:

  • 125 g of horseradish (in pieces)
  • 3 tablespoons of honey
  • 3 lemons


  1. Place the radish in the blender, or food processor, and process to obtain a paste.
  2. Place the lemons in a container with water and vinegar to remove the pesticides from the peel ( this time the lemons should not be peeled )
  3. Cut the lemons into slices, remove the seeds and add them to the horseradish mixture in the blender.
  4. Blend again until it forms a homogeneous paste.
  5. Then add the honey and mix one last time.

It is recommended to take 1 teaspoon of this paste twice a day, every day, for 2 weeks, preferably before lunch and dinner.

How to use horseradish for sinusitis?

For the best results in treating sinusitis, it is recommended to combine horseradish with onion , a bulb rich in sulfur with strong decongestant and antibacterial properties.16 17


  • 1/4 cup onion, minced
  • 1/8 cup grated horseradish
  • 1 cup of water

Place the water, onion and radish in a container, bring them to the fire and let them boil for no more than 5 minutes. Then pour the resulting liquid through a strainer and drink this spicy tea while it is still hot. It is a very effective remedy for loosening and removing excess mode, as well as relieving sinus pressure. It can be repeated as needed, 3-4 times a day.

More about the medicinal benefits of onion in:  Onion – Properties, Benefits, Types, Characteristics 

Another alternative is to keep a piece of horseradish in your mouth until its flavor dissipates. This helps remove mucus from the nasal passages, relieving congestion and pain in a few minutes. Once the flavor of the radish has dissipated, it is good to swallow it to also remove the mucus trapped in the back of the throat.

What does horseradish taste like?

As its name suggests, horseradish has a strong flavor that causes a hot, penetrating sensation in the mouth, similar to wasabi. Others say it is more like a mix between ginger, mustard, and mint.

Can you grow horseradish at home?

Yes. Horseradish cultivation is really easy; This plant can sprout from even the smallest cut of a root. You should know that the horseradish plant prefers sunny areas and needs deep soil to develop its roots well. However, it can be invasive, which is why growing it in a container is recommended if you want to prevent it from displacing other plants in the area.

What other names does it have?

Other common names for horseradish are:

  • Rábanos country
  • horse radish
  • dandelion
  • jaramago oficinal
  • romaine mustard
  • magisco radish
  • magistro radish
  • rustic radish
  • spicy root
  • wild or wild radish
  • vagisco radish
  • xaramago

Its scientific name is Armoracia rusticana .


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My name is Louise Hammond, and I am the creator of this website, a place to find information about tubers, bulbs and medicinal roots. In I show the properties, benefits, characteristics, photos and images, ways of growing and how to make delicious meals from starchy vegetables.