It is a spicy addition to a Sunday roast, or a tasty vegetable dish in its own right. If you’ve tried any classic Slavic cuisine you will know about the kick of horseradish. It now seems that it may provide a boost to more than our taste-buds. New research is hinting that horseradish may have cancer-fighting properties.
If you saw the plant you might well dismiss it as a weed. Horseradish belongs to the group known as cruciferous vegetables, which includes staples such as cauliflower, broccoli and brussels sprouts. The difference is that with horseradish, we eat the root rather than the leaves.
The name is thought to come from a misunderstanding of the German name ‘meerretich’ (sea radish). This was translated as ‘mare radish’ and then eventually moved to ‘horseradish’.
It is not known who discovered what to do with the root, but when grated it has a spicy, mustardy, slightly bitter flavour. It can be the basis for many different sauces and dishes.
Horseradish provides fibre, vitamin C and various minerals.
The ingredient that may fight cancer is glucosinolate. This is found in much larger quantities in horseradish than in broccoli. Glucosinolate is converted to isothiocyanates by grating, cooking and digestion. Isothiocyanates have been shown to inhibit the growth and reproduction of cancer cells.
At the moment the mechanism of this is not fully understood. This means that the scientifically-reviewed papers cannot yet say for certain that horseradish prevents cancer. Research has been going on for more than thirty years, but it does all point to promising results for these chemicals.
The grated root appears in many cuisines, especially those of central and eastern Europe. In these countries it is known by a variant of the name ‘chrein’, and is served as a small-portion vegetable or an accompaniment.
Horseradish is a perfect partner for beetroot, just grate it into the pureed vegetable. It also adds flavour to soups or salads at any time of year.
Give a bit of spice to your meal with horseradish. It adds taste and nutrition, and who knows what else it might do?
ashamed to admit I'd never tried this until reading the article - I thought it was a picture of yogurt! So I bought a small jar of sauce - and I am a convert too.
As far as I know, it is just as good for you in sauce. I've tried it with our beetroot glut now and it really does taste good.
Horseradish is a great way of adding flavour to boring dishes. I got a bit sick of the same old meal last time I was trying to have a bit more control in my diet but horseradish grated onto salads (for e.g.) can make a real difference. I guess the sauce is good too but I'm often concerned about the other ingredients in pre-made sauces.
I love horseradish and had no idea it was good for me. Does eating it in a sauce still make it good for me? I could eat jars of the stuff with most meals, especially in the winter!