Wasabi, that über spicy green paste not only makes sushi yummy, it’s also healthy.
But what is wasabi? Wasabi is a Japanese condiment that comes from wasabi root. It belongs to the Brassicaceae family whose members also include cabbages, horseradish and mustard.
Health benefits of wasabi
As far back as the 10th century, wasabi was thought to be a cure for food poisoning.
Recent studies have found that wasabi contains Isothiocyanates. These are powerful antioxidants that protect our cells from the damage caused be free radicals. Wasabi also contains potassium and calcium that help fight tooth decay by blocking an enzyme that bacteria called streptococcus mutans uses to make plaque. It also has strong antimicrobacterial properties and helps prevent parasites and infections.
Studies have also shown that the natural chemicals in wasabi can be used to fight certain cancer cells and slow the spread of the disease.
Researches also suggest that wasabi can help prevent cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, stroke and hypertension.
Wasabi is also believed to help with certain conditions such as diarrhea, ulcer, osteoporosis, arthritis, asthma and allergies, as well as stimulate digestion and detoxify the liver.
Get the real thing
With all of wasabi’s health benefits, experts warn against fake wasabi. Make sure you get the real thing. The problem is that most sushi restaurants in the United States serve fake wasabi. These fake wasabi are sometimes just horseradish dyed (probably with artificial coloring) green.
Real wasabi are usually grated. Also, there are specific techniques used in grating wasabi to bring out the fullness of the flavor. Real grated wasabi has a natural pale green color, unlike the bright green paste served in most restaurants.
Fake wasabi does not contain the same active ingredients as real wasabi, which means they do not offer same health benefits as real wasabi.