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If you have been to a Japanese restaurant and have ordered sushi, you would have seen a green spicy condiment placed on your sushi platter. This green paste is wasabi, a staple condiment for sushi and noodles in Japanese cuisine. Having a little pinch of wasabi with sushi or sashimi brings out a different flavour that bursts in your mouth.
What Is Wasabi?
Wasabi or Japanese horseradish is a cruciferous vegetable belonging to the Brassicaceae family. It is bright green and contains isothiocyanates (ITCs), a compound that is responsible for its sharp, pungent flavour. These isothiocyanates are responsible for the health benefits of wasabi.
Image source: Forbes
Nutritional Value Of Wasabi
100 g of wasabi contains 69.11 g water, 109 kcal energy, and they also contain
- 4.8 g protein
- 0.63 g fat
- 23.54 g carbohydrate
- 7.8 g fibre
- 128 mg calcium
- 1.03 mg iron
- 69 mg magnesium
- 80 mg phosphorus
- 568 mg potassium
- 17 mg sodium
- 1.62 mg zinc
- 0.155 mg copper
- 0.391 mg manganese
- 41.9 mg vitamin C
- 0.131 mg thiamine
- 0.114 mg riboflavin
- 0.743 mg niacin
- 0.203 mg pantothenic acid
- 0.274 mg vitamin B6
- 18 mcg folate
- 35 IU vitamin A
Health Benefits Of Wasabi
1. Helps in weight loss
The wasabi plant contains compounds that inhibit the growth and formation of fat cells. A study showed that a compound called 5-Hydroxyferulic acid methyl ester (5-HFA ester) present in wasabi leaves suppressed the growth and formation of fat cells  ,  .
Another study published in the Nutrition Research and Practice, concluded that wasabi leaf extract prevented weight gain in mice on a high-fat diet  .
2. Prevents cancer
The anticancer activity is attributed to isothiocyanates (ITCs) in wasabi. Studies show that ITCs and other similar compounds present in wasabi inhibit the growth of breast, oral, colon, and pancreatic cancer cells  ,  ,  .
3. Promotes heart health
Wasabi possesses antihypercholesterolemic properties which help in lowering high cholesterol levels, thus reducing the risk of heart and stroke. The isothiocyanates in wasabi stop platelet aggregation (clumping together of platelets in the blood) and prevent the formation of blood clots, which is the main cause of stroke  .
4. Relieves inflammation
Studies have shown that the isothiocyanates in wasabi inhibit the cells and enzymes that increase inflammation, including cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) and inflammatory cytokines like tumour necrosis factor (TNF) and interleukins  .
5. Prevents food-borne illnesses
According to a study published in the Frontiers of Microbiology, the antibacterial properties of wasabi are helpful in fighting against and Staphylococcus aureus and E. coli bacteria - the two most common bacteria responsible for food poisoning  .
Another study showed that wasabi also has the potent ability to help treat peptic ulcers caused by H. pylori  .
6. Prevents Parkinson's disease
The isothiocyanates in wasabi have neuroprotective effects on the brain. They elevate the activation of antioxidant systems that lower inflammation in the brain. A study showed that this compound can also help prevent or slow down the onset of Parkinson' s disease  .
7. Prevents osteoporosis
P-hydroxycinnamic acid (HCA) in wasabi can preserve bone integrity by increasing the formation of bones and decreasing bone breakdown in humans. This could help treat osteoporosis  .
8. Inhibits tooth decay
According to the American Chemical Society, wasabi contains isothiocyanates that may help prevent tooth decay and cavities by eliminating the bacteria that cause them  .
Side Effects Of Wasabi
Though wasabi is safe to consume, people with bleeding disorders or those who have just had surgery should avoid consuming wasabi as it might increase the risk of bleeding and bruising.
How To Use Wasabi
- Select fresh wasabi root and remove the leaves.
- Scrape off the bumps and marks from the root.
- Take a fine grater and grate the root.
- The grated wasabi can be served as a spice, herb or condiment.
Ways To Add Wasabi Into Your Diet
- Wasabi should be enjoyed with sushi and soy sauce.
- Add it to noodle soups.
- Use it as a condiment for grilling vegetables and meat.
- Use wasabi to flavour roast vegetables.
- Add wasabi to salad dressings, dips, and marinades.
Wasabi ginger and garlic roasted red potatoes 
- 2 red potatoes, halved
- 1 full garlic
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tsp wasabi powder
- I tsp minced ginger
- 1-2 tsp water
- Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Peel the raw garlic cloves.
- Place the potatoes and garlic in a large pot, and cover with cold water. Boil over high heat, and simmer for about 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat.
- In a small bowl, mix the wasabi powder and water. Add more water, if needed, until a thick paste is created. Cover and keep aside.
- Drain the water from the potatoes.
- Add ginger, olive oil, salt and pepper to the wasabi and blend well. Add this mixture to the potatoes and garlic until they're well-coated.
- Place it into a baking dish, and put in the oven until golden brown. You may need to flip them once or twice so they brown on all sides.
- Remove from the oven and serve warm.
-  Kim, Y. J., Lee, D. H., Ahn, J., Chung, W. J., Jang, Y. J., Seong, K. S., … Jung, C. H. (2015). Pharmacokinetics, Tissue Distribution, and Anti-Lipogenic/Adipogenic Effects of Allyl-Isothiocyanate Metabolites. PloS one, 10(8), e0132151.
-  Misawa, N., Hosoya, T., Yoshida, S., Sugimoto, O., Yamada‐Kato, T., & Kumazawa, S. (2018). 5‐Hydroxyferulic acid methyl ester isolated from wasabi leaves inhibits 3T3‐L1 adipocyte differentiation. Phytotherapy research, 32(7), 1304-1310.
-  Yamasaki, M., Ogawa, T., Wang, L., Katsube, T., Yamasaki, Y., Sun, X., & Shiwaku, K. (2013). Anti-obesity effects of hot water extract from Wasabi (Wasabia japonica Matsum.) leaves in mice fed high-fat diets. Nutrition research and practice, 7(4), 267–272.
-  Yano, S., Wu, S., Sakao, K., & Hou, D. X. (2018). Wasabi 6‐(methylsulfinyl) hexyl isothiocyanate induces apoptosis in human colorectal cancer cells through p53‐independent mitochondrial dysfunction pathway. BioFactors, 44(4), 361-368.
-  Lee, M. J., Tseng, W. S., Lai, J. C., Shieh, H. R., Chi, C. W., & Chen, Y. J. (2018). Differential Pharmacological Activities of Oxygen Numbers on the Sulfoxide Moiety of Wasabi Compound 6-(Methylsulfinyl) Hexyl Isothiocyanate in Human Oral Cancer Cells. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 23(10), 2427.
-  Chen, Y. J., Huang, Y. C., Tsai, T. H., & Liao, H. F. (2014). Effect of Wasabi Component 6-(Methylsulfinyl)hexyl Isothiocyanate and Derivatives on Human Pancreatic Cancer Cells. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2014, 494739.
-  Lam, T. K., Gallicchio, L., Lindsley, K., Shiels, M., Hammond, E., Tao, X. G., … Alberg, A. J. (2009). Cruciferous vegetable consumption and lung cancer risk: a systematic review. Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers & prevention : a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, cosponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology, 18(1), 184–195.
-  Lin, T., Zirpoli, G. R., McCann, S. E., Moysich, K. B., Ambrosone, C. B., & Tang, L. (2017). Trends in Cruciferous Vegetable Consumption and Associations with Breast Cancer Risk: A Case-Control Study. Current developments in nutrition, 1(8), e000448.
-  Liu, B., Mao, Q., Cao, M., & Xie, L. (2012). Cruciferous vegetables intake and risk of prostate cancer: a meta‐analysis. International Journal of Urology, 19(2), 134-141.
-  Liu, B., Mao, Q., Lin, Y., Zhou, F., & Xie, L. (2013). The association of cruciferous vegetables intake and risk of bladder cancer: a meta-analysis. World journal of urology, 31(1), 127-133.
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-  Subedi, L., Venkatesan, R., & Kim, S. Y. (2017). Neuroprotective and Anti-Inflammatory Activities of Allyl Isothiocyanate through Attenuation of JNK/NF-κB/TNF-α Signaling. International journal of molecular sciences, 18(7), 1423.
-  Lu, Z., Dockery, C. R., Crosby, M., Chavarria, K., Patterson, B., & Giedd, M. (2016). Antibacterial Activities of Wasabi against Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Staphylococcus aureus. Frontiers in microbiology, 7, 1403.
-  Masuda, S., Masuda, H., Shimamura, Y., Sugiyama, C., & Takabayashi, F. (2017). Improvement effects of Wasabi (Wasabia japonica) leaves and allyl isothiocyanate on stomach lesions of Mongolian gerbils infected with Helicobacter pylori. Natural product communications, 12(4), 1934578X1701200431.
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-  https://draxe.com/nutrition/wasabi/