11 Impressive Benefits of Horseradish

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated - Medically reviewed by Vanessa Voltolina (MS, RD)

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Horseradish is a powerful and pungent plant connected to a wide variety of health benefits, including its ability to aid in weight loss, lower blood pressure, build strong bones, and improve the immune system to name a few.

What is Horseradish?

Horseradish is actually a member of the Brassicaceae family, meaning that it is closely related to wasabi, mustard, cabbage, and broccoli. It is closer in application to wasabi and mustard because when the thick, white root (the active ingredient) is sliced, the breakdown of those plant cells releases enzymes that break down the sinigrin found in the root. This releases mustard oil, which is a pungent and irritating chemical that affects the sinuses. This is why horseradish is so popularly used as a spicy burst of flavor in a number of dishes or a lightly applied condiment to certain types of steak.

Horseradish is thought to have originated in Southern Europe and Western Asia, where it has been referenced throughout history. The power and importance of this root have been known for thousands of years and it is now available across the world. It is used mainly in culinary practices and has medicinal applications too and some of those health benefits are urging more people to consume it around the world. Ironically enough, it is actually poisonous to horses!

Fresh horseradish with leaves on a wooden chopper board

Fresh Horseradish leaves Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Horseradish, prepared
Serving Size :
NutrientValue
Water [g]85.08
Energy [kcal]48
Protein [g]1.18
Total lipid (fat) [g]0.69
Carbohydrate, by difference [g]11.29
Fiber, total dietary [g]3.3
Sugars, total [g]7.99
Calcium, Ca [mg]56
Iron, Fe [mg]0.42
Magnesium, Mg [mg]27
Phosphorus, P [mg]31
Potassium, K [mg]246
Sodium, Na [mg]420
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.83
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]24.9
Thiamin [mg]0.01
Riboflavin [mg]0.02
Niacin [mg]0.39
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.07
Folate, DFE [µg]57
Vitamin B-12 [µg]0
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]0
Vitamin A, IU [IU]2
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.01
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]0
Vitamin D [IU]0
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]1.3
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]0.09
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]0.13
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]0.34
Fatty acids, total trans [g]0
Cholesterol [mg]0
Caffeine [mg]0
Sources include : USDA

Horseradish Nutrition Facts

The health benefits of horseradish are mainly attributed to its high nutrient and mineral content, which includes dietary fiber, vitamin C, folate, potassium, calcium, magnesium, zinc, and manganese, as well as its organic chemical composition of enzymes and oils, like sinigrin, a powerful glucosinolate. These components work together to provide the health benefits, which are explained below.

Health Benefits of Horseradish

Health benefits of horseradish include the following:

Boosts Immunity

Horseradish is packed with beneficial nutrients and phytochemicals, some of which give it the distinctive, pungent odor that is well known. This is the reason that it works so well as a food additive and an ingredient in cuisines all around the world. Some of these chemicals are various forms of isothiocyanate and sinigrin. These components have been found to have antioxidant characteristics that boost the strength of the immune system and stimulate the activity and production of white blood cells, the body’s main line of defense. The vitamin C content of this spicy root is also impressively high, which boosts the strength of the immune system and joins the defensive forces against free radicals.

Anti-cancer Properties

Horseradish may help increase your ability to fight off cancer and delay the spread of metastasis of cancerous cells. Marvin J. Weil et al. found that bioactive compounds present in horseradish had an inhibitory effect on cancer cells. More research is needed on utilizing horseradish as an alternative cancer therapy.

Weight Loss

Horseradish is very low in calories, only 6 per serving, and has no fat whatsoever. Since it is high in fiber and rich in protein, it can stimulate feelings of satiety, and it can be used freely in recipes without worrying about adding any unnecessary fats or calories. This way, overeating is reduced, and weight loss attempts are not compromised.

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Lowers Blood Pressure

Potassium is an essential part of our body that regulates the flow of cellular fluids and the tension of blood vessels. Potassium deficiency results in higher blood pressure, among a number of other negative health effects – which could mean suffering from cardiovascular diseases and associated conditions. Horseradish, which is a rich source of potassium, can help you meet your daily potassium goal and assist in improving blood pressure and heart health over time.

Improves Digestion

When the phytochemicals of the plant are combined with the fiber content of it, it helps bulks up the stool and stimulates the peristaltic motion of the smooth intestinal muscles. Horseradish can assist in easing any digestive issues and regulate bowel movements while decreasing the occurrence of constipation and diarrhea.

Improves Bone Health

Adding a significant amount of calcium to your diet can keep you stronger and younger, while also reducing your chances of developing debilitating conditions like osteoporosis. Thankfully, there is a modest amount of calcium in horseradish, which forms an essential part of bone health, growth, and repair. Incorporating this into your diet may bolster your bones!

Helps in Pregnancy

The high levels of folate found in horseradish are protective for mothers and infants from pregnancy issues; folic acid reduces the chances of neural tube defects. However, moderation is key as too much of the spicy condiment can be dangerous for pregnant women.

An Antibacterial Agent

Studies have shown that the powerful, natural chemicals in horseradish can be a great defense against microbes and bacterial infections, including Listeria, E. coli, and Staphylococcus. Add it on your sandwich or steak and help protect yourself against these undesirable, infection-bearing bacteria. The specific antibacterial component in it is called allyl isothiocyanate.

Diuretic Properties

Horseradish has a diuretic quality that stimulates urination. This is good for a number of reasons, including the regular release of toxins from the body, cleanliness of the kidney, and a reduction in weight, since 4 percent of urine is actually composed of body fat!

Improves Respiratory Conditions

The defining odor of horseradish that makes our nose twitch and our eyes water! It can help to clear the mucus secretions in the sinus and respiratory system. Taking a strong sniff or inhalation of pure horseradish can that to clear out congestion developed due to a cold, illness or allergy.

Word of Caution: Horseradish is quite high in sodium and sugar. Although it is usually consumed in small amounts, it is still important to remember that sodium can be detrimental to people struggling with hypertension and obesity. Also, horseradish has a slightly diuretic quality, which can exacerbate problems for people with kidney disorders, and for those with peptic ulcers or inflammatory bowel disease, the intense power of horseradish can make these conditions worse.

Spread some horseradish on your next burger, sandwich, steak or salad and enjoy!

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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