Horseradish, scientific nameArmoracia rusticana, also calledhorseradish or horseradish, belongs to the family ofBrassicaceae; it is a perennial plant native to south-eastern Europe and western Asia, but the countries most interested in its trade are the United States and Hungary. Always known as a medicinal plant, so much so that Pliny the Elder (1st century AD) already recommended its consumption at the end of a heavy meal to promote digestion, it was also used to prevent or relieve scurvy thanks to its high vitamin C content. In the seventeenth century, use changed from medical to food.Composition
Horseradish is a rich source of compounds capable of having beneficial effects on the organism (bioactive components), includingglucosinolates, and their derivatives, and theisothiocyanatesresponsible for the spicy and tear-forming effect of the root. The content of bioactive components, which differs between the root and the leaves, also varies according to the species, the season and the degree of ripeness of the plant.
From the food composition tables compiled by the Council for Research in Agriculture and the Analysis of Agricultural Economy (CREA), it is observed that 100 grams of horseradish root contain very few calories, many minerals, vitamins, especially vitamin C, and some polyphenols.
|Composition||Contained in 100g of product|
|Water (grams, g)||85,08|
|Cholesterol (milligrams, mg)||0|
|Available carbohydrates (g)||11,29|
|Soluble sugars (g)||7,99|
|Total fiber (g)||3,3|
|Vitamin C (mg)||24,9|
|β-carotene (micrograms, μg)||1|
|Lutein + zeaxanthin (μg)||10|
|Vitamin K (μg)||1,3|
|Vitamin E (mg)||0,01|
|Saturated fatty acids (mg)||0,09|
|Monounsaturated fatty acids (g)||0,13|
|Polyunsaturated fatty acids (g)||0,339|
In addition, horseradish contains polyphenolsluteolin (0.90 milligrams per 100 grams of fresh horseradish),kempferol (1.58 milligrams per 100 grams of fresh horseradish) and quercetin (0.28 milligrams per 100 grams of fresh radish), all belonging to the class offlavonoids, molecules with beneficial activities for health.Usage
The particular flavor of horseradish is appreciated in both meat and fish, and is also used as a substitute for the more expensivewasabi (Japanese sauce used as a condiment).
It is a spice used in various regional cuisines, including the Lucanian one, where it is added grated to dishes, and the Trieste one where it is used, always grated, for the preparation of the typical sandwich with hot cooked ham.
It is very often the main ingredient of sauces used as a condiment for meat dishes typical of Jewish, German, South Tyrolean, Friulian and Venetian cuisine.
The most used part of the plant is the root, with a sweet and spicy flavor at the same time, it exerts a balsamic effect that is perceived very clearly in the respiratory tract until it causes tearing.
The growing interest in the substances contained in it, associated with the long and widespread tradition of using it in food preservation and as a condiment, is promoting new applications of horseradish in various agro-industrial and pharmaceutical sectors. Moreover, thanks to its abundant content inperoxidase, an antioxidant enzyme involved in plant defense systems, has found great use in molecular biology and diagnostics.Functions
Theisothiocyanates contained in horseradish have the main function of defending the plant from aggression by microorganisms and fungi, thanks to their antimicrobial and fungicidal activity.
Several beneficial actions have been attributed to the consumption of horseradish on:
- respiratory diseases
- urinary tract infections, for its antimicrobial action
- antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity
Horseradish is contraindicated in people suffering from kidney and stomach problems. Furthermore, its use during pregnancy is not recommended.
Care must be taken when handling horseradish root as it can cause tearing and, in some people, can cause irritation, conjunctivitis, or headaches.
It is also advisable not to exceed its consumption because negative effects (adverse effects) on the thyroid have been described due to the ability of theisothiocyanates to bind and retain iodine. The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) indicates 0.2 milligrams per kilo of body weight as the maximum daily quantity to be consumed.Bibliography
Wedelsback Bladh K. Evaluation of glucosinolates in nordic horseradish (armoracia rusticana). Lithuanian botany. 2013; 19: 48–56
Mickymaray S. In Vitro Antioxidant and Bactericidal Efficacy of 15 Common Spices: Novel Therapeutics for Urinary Tract Infections?Medicine. 2019; 55: 289
Felker P. Concentrations of thiocyanate and goitrin in human plasma, their precursor concentrations in brassica vegetables, and associated potential risk for hypothyroidism. Nutrition Reviews.2016; 74: 248–258Further links
Food and Nutrition Research Center (CREA). Food and nutrition
Phenol Explorer. Horseradish, fresh (English)
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Peppers, hot chili, red, raw (English)