Wasabi is well known to all sushi fans as it is the interesting green pungent paste, sometimes mixed with a little soy sauce that accompanies sushi. It is also known as ‘Japanese horseradish’ which may give a clue that this is a hot root. The Japanese are noted for their healthy cooking and the taste of the sushi sea weed wrap of rice and vegetables compliments perfectly the distinctive tang of the root or paste. However be aware that in some restaurants the wasabi served may be a mix of food coloring, mustard and horse radish as true wasabi is quite expensive.
It is to be found growing in the river beds and streams of Japan. If you are lucky enough to be able to buy a root of it you should grate it otherwise it is made into a paste, usually green, for easy export throughout the world.
This tube of ‘heat root’ has some tremendous health benefits. Do not be in any doubt though, it is very hot so be careful to dip into it, rather than thickly smearing it onto your food.
All hot roots are attributed to being able to help and relieve congestion, bronchial and sinus problems. One train of thought put forward is that it actually reduces the nasal passageways. Try it as the first impression is that it does indeed clear the nose making it seem more open, in fact it can feel as though your head has been ‘blown off’ if you have too much of it!
The health benefits of wasabi are mainly due to it having some interesting and helpful chemicals as it is high in isothiocyanates. These chemicals trigger enzymes in the body thus helping it perform more efficiently. One such example is to assist the liver to detoxify cancer forming free radicals as well as toxic fatty tissues thus cleansing the liver of any impurities.
These isothiocyanates which are also present in broccoli and cauliflower – both are members of the same family as wasabi – have anti inflammatory properties that can help painful joints by blocking pain pathways. They are also thought to inhibit bacteria growth particularly the strain that causes food poisoning as well as being reputed to help fight tooth disease and gum disorders as the chemical prevents the sugar in food from sticking to the teeth.
Another major role of isothiocyanates is to help the body to reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes by preventing platelet aggression.
Thus a small tube of wasabi contains many health benefits. Some of them may still require further research however try it and see if it improves your sinus problems or if a small amount on a teaspoon can help enhance your own personal feeling of well-being.