10 Health Benefits of Wasabi
Typically found in sushi meals or as a standalone condiment and supplement, wasabi has extensive health benefits. Derived from the mountain river valleys of Japan, Daruma and Mazuma wasabi types form typical parts of the more general root Wasabia Japonica, itself part of the root vegetable family. Wasabi is usually grated from the root into a paste, and is used to either coat food, or to act as a condiment for meals. When first tasted, wasabi has a strong smell and burning taste, although this rapidly dissipates due to the burning not being oil based.
A well as being staple of Japanese dishes for hundreds of years, wasabi has long been used for its healthy properties as a paste or crushed herb. Wasabi’s chief health benefits come from its bioactive properties, which are achieved through isothiocyanate chemicals and hydrolysis processes that help to fight bacteria. Isothiocyanates can also help to reduce inflammations, and can suppress blood clots and cancer cells within the body. Although it is something of a myth that the strong smell of wasabi will help to clean out sinuses, its benefits help to make it one of the world’s most potent super foods and supplements.
1 – Antibacterial Properties – Wasabi’s isothiocyanates help to kill bacteria. This property makes them an essential part of sushi dishes, in the sense of acting as a complement to raw fish. Wasabi’s antibacterial qualities consequently make it ideal for treating infections, and for being used as a natural way to settle stomach acids and bowel complaints. Wasabi can be particularly useful in this regard for fighting chronic conditions such as Crohn’s disease and Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
2 – Food Poisoning Assistance – Taking wasabi can help to ease the effects of food poisoning. Wasabi’s antimicrobial features means that it can attack nasty stomach infections, and if ingested during a meal can kill any bacteria present on food before it can take effect within the body.
3 – Anti Inflammatory Effects – In some ways more effective than other types of anti histamines, wasabi isothiocyanates can inhibit inflammations around the body, and has extensive gastric benefits by reducing intestinal chloride secretion, which can lead to stomach pains and heart burn. Wasabi achieves these effects by inhibiting platelet aggregation through omega-methylthioalkyl isothiocyanates that produce rapid bioactive reactions.
4 – Cancer Prevention – Perhaps wasabi’s greatest strength is its ability to reduce the risk of cancer. Acting as an anti-carcinogen, wasabi shares properties with broccoli and cabbage for promoting liver health by neutralizing toxic substances and activating liver enzymes. Isothiocyanates also help to reduce cell mutations, and can have a significant effect on multiple types of cancer, from bowel disorders through to lung and brain cancers. Wasabi particularly works in this way to restrict cell cycle multiplication, while inhibiting protein production and metastasis. In the same way, wasabi can help to reduce the metastasis of tumour cells, and can cause other forms of cancer cells for leukemia and breast cancer to experience cell death. Wasabi does not affect healthy cells in the same way.
5 – Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention – Wasabi inhibits platelet aggregation in the blood, and helps to prevent the formation of clots that can cause heart disease and strokes. The overall effect is to help improve blood flow by acting as an anti coagulant.
6 – Anti-Asthmatic Properties – Similar in effect to anti inflammatory uses, wasabi can be ingested to help with asthmatic problems and bronchitis. Again, wasabi’s benefits as a bacteria killer help it to act as one of the most powerful ingredients in treating infections. Wasabi can also fight seasonal allergies such as hay fever.
7 – Free Radical Detoxification – Free radicals represent molecules, atoms and ions that are essential to many different biological reactions, which include the delivery of oxygen into the blood. Broken bonds within free radicals can lead to cancer formation. Wasabi works to detoxify free radicals, preventing problems with negative reactions.
8 – Immune System Stimulation – One of wasabi’s more general effects is to stimulate the immune system into working in a more efficient way. Antibacterial properties help detoxify the blood and organs, and can stimulate the natural production of pleasurable endorphins.
9 – Tooth Decay Prevention – The isothiocyanates within wasabi attack tooth decay by breaking down streptococcus bacteria. The chemicals inhibit bacterial growth, and if used regularly as a paste can provide a natural alternative to fluoride toothpaste.
10 – Nutritional Benefits – Beyond its specific functions within the body, wasabi has extensive nutritional and general health benefits. On average, 100g of wasabi contains just 109 calories, as well as 0.63g of fat, and 23g of carbohydrates, 7.8g of fibre, and 4.8g g of protein. Wasabi is also a rich source of minerals and nutrients, and can help to regulate the body and improve bone strength.
Moreover, Wasabi is particularly recommended as a supplement containing calcium, magnesium, potassium and manganese, as well as glucosinolate compounds. Specific isothiocyanates can also be used to treat forms of Type 2 diabetes as an alternative to insulin. When used as a complement to a nutritional meal, or ingested in paste and powder form, wasabi can consequently act as a superfood.
Other Things to Consider
One of the problems that users sometimes find with wasabi is that it is difficult to source in its natural form. Many of the wasabi types that are used outside Japan do not contain the same potency as locally grown roots, which don’t tend to appear as naturally outside of the Izu peninsula and the Nagano and Iwate prefectures. In this way, it is important to find specialist foodstores that will carry wasabi, while considering the benefits of ordering it directly from other suppliers.
It is also important to remember that wasabi is strongest when first grated from the root, with these effects lasting for approximately 15 minutes. There are also some side effects to ingesting large amounts of wasabi, which can include diarrhea and stomach aches. However, these occasional reactions are far outweighed by wasabi’s many uses within the body, and its huge potential to help fight various kinds of long term disease and viruses.