Why You Should Eat More Wasabi
Whether you've been out for sushi or browsing the international aisles at your grocery store, you might have noticed a green paste or powder called wasabi.
Wasabi is a spicy green Japanese condiment that is made from the herb Wasabia japonica.
Wasabia japonica rhizome is a rich source of long-chain methyl isothiocyanates that have been shown to help maintain healthy liver enzymes and DNA, as well as support a healthy inflammatory process.
Why else should you be eating more wasabi?
The Wasabi Maestro (Michel Van Mellaerts) shares the powerful benefits of wasabi (I shall use the word wasabi for both the True Wasabi and the fake wasabi, so pay attention), and why you should be eating more of this food.
Let's talk about why we all should be eating more wasabi. You know, that stuff you get with sushi. Although the stuff you get with sushi in restaurants and sushi bars is probably not True Wasabi and I will get into that in a moment. That stuff that clears your sinuses, gives you that real kick, your eyes water and then it's gone and you just feel awesome. I love it. We should be eating more wasabi.
Let me just tell you about wasabi. Let's discuss the Wasabia japonica story because that's the plant name. Wasabia japonica has been grown and eaten in Japan for centuries. It is believed that the daily consumption of this plant Wasabia japonica improves the health and fights off a large number of illnesses.
This has now been borne out in a large and increasing number of scientific studies on the actions of these naturally occurring compounds in Wasabi. For centuries, there have been a lot of traditional uses of Wasabi, a lot of anecdotal evidence, historical evidence, even folklore, surrounding wasabi and its medicinal properties. More and more scientists are starting to back up what traditional users of wasabi have always known: it's good for you.
More and more scientists are starting to back up what traditional users of wasabi have always known: it's good for you.
More and more people are seeing Wasabi as a functional food for human health--consuming it on a daily basis. Let me just tell you the problem, though. At least in most of the world (including Japan), when we think we are eating wasabi, we are probably not.
Wasabi, is hard to grow and cultivate mainly because it has to be done at higher elevations.
Of course, in higher elevations temperature can change so much and if it gets too warm the wasabi plant doesn't do too well and if it gets too cold it doesn't do well. So, there's this right elevation, this perfect elevation, where it's not too cold not too warm in the mountains of Japan. Yet people don't want to go up there and cultivate the plant anymore.
Then you add to the fact that there's so much pollution in Japan and the bottom line is the actual plant Wasabia japonica is not really grown that much anymore because it's just too hard and no one wants to do it. Here's what the Japanese did, knowing that this was going to be a growing industry.
The Japanese have a great business eye for this kind of stuff. In order to make up for the reduction in True Wasabi, the Japanese food industry provided a solution. They took powder or paste that contains European horseradish mixed with mustard seed and FDA approved coloring. So, that green stuff that you thought was wasabi that you are getting with your Americanized sushi is horseradish with food coloring in it and maybe a little mustard seed. And it's really not providing us that much benefit. There is a story about how the fake wasabi was introduced to the world here.
Horseradish does have some benefit but not to the level of wasabi. So, when you think you are eating wasabi in all countries in the world, you probably aren't. You can get it but you have to ask for it. It's going to cost a lot bit more but it's probably worth it. When you look at the wasabi plant, the most important part of it is the stem (otherwise called a rhizome). There's a specific type of compound in the stem called an isothiocyanate. That's the key compound that we want from the wasabi.
I did some straight forward, good, old-fashioned research and searching on PubMed to find out what are the true benefits of True Wasabi that contain this isothiocyanate compound.
Number one, True Wasabi with isothiocyanate inhibits the development of lung tumors
Here's what I found. Number one, True Wasabi with isothiocyanate inhibits the development of lung tumors, at least in mice. There are a lot of cancer researchers who are now are pushing the NIH to do some human clinical trials with Wasabi standardized to isothiocyanate.
This was published in Cancer Letters 2000. There hasn't been much follow up with this, I don't think. If you go to clinicaltrials.gov, you can search "wasabi" and/or "isothiocyanate" and "lung cancer" and see what kind of trials are out there. I don't think there are too many. This has been shown, at least in mouse models, to work.
Number two, True Wasabi has potent anti-bacterial activity
Number two, True Wasabi has potent anti-bacterial activity. Now, this has been known and this has probably been one of the big reasons that traditional cultures have used real wasabi in wounds and when people are sick with cold, flu, whatever.
Historically speaking, they made the claims it works wonders but now there is some scientific research evidence that it truly does have at least anti-bacterial activity and some anti-viral properties. The International Journal of Food and Medicine, 2004 did a really good study on this. Biological Sciences and Biotechnology Biochemistry,1998 did some research looking at the anti-bacterial activity and it does seem to have some.
Number three, True Wasabi suppresses glandular stomach cancer.
This is a good one. We don't have a lot of great treatments for stomach cancer. This was published in Nutrition and Cancer, 1991. Looking at True Wasabi and isothiocyanate and the effect on cancer was positive published in a peer review journal a long time ago.
Again, go to clinicaltrials.gov and there's not a lot of follow up with these things and that's a shame.
Number four, True Wasabi has some anti-platelet properties
Number four, True Wasabi has some anti-platelet properties so it can help work in kind of the same way aspirin does.
Maybe in a post-stroke type situation or maybe even used in combination with other anti-platelets with people with A-fib to prevent blood clot formations. This was shown to be true in a publication in Biofactors, 2000. So, you see what I'm doing here.
There's a bunch of traditional benefits of wasabi, a lot of historical, anecdotal claims about wasabi and I took those claims and I'm backing it up with solid, peer reviewed publications, sometimes in animals, sometimes in a petri dish in the laboratory, sometimes in humans. Here's another one.
Number five. True Wasabi increases the abundance of protective detox enzymes
This is number five. True Wasabi increases the abundance of protective detox enzymes. Those are your liver enzymes. Detox is a big issue.
We know that we have a built in, really awesome detox system called the liver. But the liver is overwhelmed, so it needs help. Maybe True Wasabi can be that help. The Journal of Biology and Chemistry, 2002 showed that True Wasabi can enhance the activity of phase one and phase two detox in the liver. Other things that can do that are milk thistle, melon extracts, B Vitamins and now you can add True Wasabi to that list. Liver Detox capsules available here.
Number six, wasabi has a protective effect against colon cancer risk.
Number six, True Wasabi has a protective effect against colon cancer risk. That was in Nutrition and Cancer, 2004. Just a lot of really good benefits of wasabi but you have to make sure you're using True Wasabia japonica if you are going to cook with it. If you are going to make a product make sure it's standardized to isothiocyanate.