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Proven Health Benefits of Wasabi

  • Calories: 109 (100 Grams, Root, Raw)
  • Originated: Japan
  • Main Health Benefit: Cancer Prevention
  • Other Known Benefits: Digestive Health, Antibacterial, Arthritis Relief
  • High in: Vitamin C

For many years, not many people outside of Japan knew about wasabi. Wasabi is actually a plant that’s in the same family as mustard and even horseradish, which is why some call it the Japanese version of horseradish. You’ve probably only seen wasabi in its paste form, as it’s grown massively in popularity around the world for the better part of two decades now. You might be surprised to know that the wasabi we typically eat is from the stem of a wasabi plant.

If you’ve had wasabi, you know how difficult it can be to eat since it’s so pungent, giving you the sensation that many spicy foods tend to do. There are a lot of different uses for wasabi because of that, with some even using it as sort of a smelling salt. You might not expect wasabi to be all that healthy, but it turns out that it provides some great health benefits. Let’s take a closer look at some of those benefits, and the surprising nutritional value that wasabi brings to the table.

Nutrition of Wasabi

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The wasabi root itself is packed with a wide range of nutrients in significant amounts. Each 100 gram serving of raw wasabi root (around 3.5 ounces) includes a whopping 10 percent of your daily recommendation of protein and about one third of your daily fiber needs. In terms of vitamins, wasabi is packed with vitamin C, providing three quarters of your daily recommendation. Wasabi is a great source of vitamin B6, too, with 14 percent of your daily recommendation.

Coming in between five and 10 percent daily value includes vitamins such as niacin, folate, riboflavin and thiamin, while there’s also trace amounts of vitamin A and pantothenic acid. Wasabi has 20 percent of your daily recommendation for manganese in the mineral department, with more than 10 percent of calcium, magnesium, potassium and zinc. Wasabi is also a significant source of iron, phosphorus and copper, with under one gram of fat and no cholesterol in each serving.

Cancer Fighter

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Studies in recent years have shown that if you want to prevent different forms of cancers, you should actually be eating more wasabi in your diet. It turns out that wasabi is packed with powerful antioxidants called phytonutrients that are able to expel carcinogens from your body. This is a huge step in the right direction in preventing lung cancer, especially if you have spent much of your life smoking or working in a smoky area.

All of the antioxidants working within wasabi head straight into battle against free radicals that are known to attack your cells and cause long term damage that result in cancer. One of the antioxidants in wasabi is known as 6-MITC, has been shown to be incredibly effective in slowing down or stopping the growth of cancer cells and tumors, and has had a specific breakthrough in preventing breast cancer. So what makes wasabi so much more powerful against cancer cells than some of its family members? Wasabi is generally eaten raw, while other similar herbs are cooked, leaving all of the powerful nutrients within wasabi.

Bacteria Banished

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It’s estimated that there are more than 100 trillion (yes, with a ‘T’) microbes on your body, and not all of them are going to be helpful. We’re introduced to harmful bacteria on a daily basis, and getting the necessary amount of vitamins and minerals isn’t always enough. E. coli and staph infections are among the most common bacterial diseases out there, and it turns out that wasabi can help eliminate both when they’re introduced to the body.

If you’ve ever been to a sushi restaurant, you might have noticed that wasabi is incredibly popular as part of the meal. That’s because it’s so effective in killing off bacteria that many believe that eating wasabi offsets any potential negatives of eating raw fish. Even researchers have found that using wasabi on plants can help them grow more efficiently by heavily reducing bacterial numbers.

No More Sore Joints

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If you’re one of the many people that experiences pain in your joints (or any part of your body, really), it’s likely due to inflammation. When inflamed, your body sends out a pain signal from the TRP receptor in the brain to your nerves. Because of the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties of wasabi, you can help relieve pain that comes with aging, especially in your joints.

The actual source of pain, inflammation, is taken care of by the compounds in wasabi, while the feeling of pain can be reduced as isothiocyanates block the TRP receptors. Researchers were surprised to hear that there was such a specific link between wasabi and arthritic pain. So the next time your knee feels a little sore after a long day of standing on your feet, you might just need some wasabi to get up and going!

Breathing Easier

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Have you ever taken a whiff of wasabi while it’s on your plate, only to have to back off because of its pungency? While it might not be the most pleasant thing, that pungency is actually doing wonders for your respiratory system. The smell is produced by the gas of isothiocyanates, which can kill some of the harmful foreign bodies in your respiratory system that make you sick.

If you’re already sick, smelling wasabi is a great way of both clearing your nasal passages while getting on the road to recovery. This also helps with sinus infections and allergies, which are quite common around the world. Some have even used wasabi to help themselves perform better athletically, while researchers have also found that wasabi can be an effective smoke alarm device for deaf people!

Digestive Health

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Fiber is one of our favorite topics to talk about here, and wasabi delivers in the fiber department with 10 percent of your daily recommendation in each serving. While that might not sound like a lot, even adding just a bit of fiber to your diet if you’re not getting any can make a huge difference. Fiber is essential in helping you stay regular and avoid cramps, constipation and many other problems, while you’ll also get more helpful bacteria (probiotics) in your system. Wasabi has specifically been linked to a reduction in chances of digestive tract cancers, and can even help you avoid food poisoning when eaten with other foods.

Summing it Up

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When you’re considering the side effects that wasabi might have on your body, the obvious one that comes to mind is the intense heat sensation that it produces in your mouth. Some people have a tough time being able to handle this, which can cause some issues. Others might be allergic to wasabi, resulting in hives and difficulty breathing. For those that can handle wasabi and aren’t allergic, are there any drawbacks?

While wasabi itself won’t have noticeable side effects for a large majority of people, you should avoid eating it if you have a blood disorder since it can thin your blood. This could result in an interference with your medication, so it’s also advised that you give up wasabi if you have an upcoming (or recently performed) surgery. With that said, most will be able to enjoy (or suffer through) eating wasabi as part of their diet, as well as all of the fantastic health benefits that come with it!