Include reduced risk of Cancer and Heart Disease
As well as providing anti-inflammatory benefits for joints and muscles.
It also helps to defend the body and mouth against bacterial infections, and can reduce the debilitating effects of seasonal allergies suffered by 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children in the US alone.
This amazing plant can be used to treat respiratory and sinus problems.
The large number of antioxidants in Wasabi also help boot the bodies natural immune system, and stimulates the liver to remove harmful toxins from the body.
Wasabi* = True Wasabia japonica and NOT the Fake Wasabi available in most supermarkets or shops. Look at the ingredients. If it doesn't say Wasabia japonica then it will not have these health benefits.
* Wasabi is a made up word invented to describe something that tastes and acts in a way that is similar to the plant Wasabia japonica, but has none of the health benefits of True Wasabia japonica. The fake stuff is normally made from horseradish, mustard and artificial colouring and flavouring. The pricing in the shops is similar to True Wasabia japonica, so look on the ingredients list.
In this article when we talk about Wasabi we actually mean the plant Wasabia japonica. Here is a picture of the plant rhizome which is the most potent part of the plant.
Wasabi doesn't just give you a potent kick in the sinuses, it also has powerful effects on your overall health!
Wasabi is a plant related to cabbages, Brussels sprouts, Bok Choy, mustard and horseradish, and has been classified by botanists as a member of the Brassicaceae family.
However, it is commonly called Japanese horseradish, which is a deliberate misrepresentation started at the end of the second World War. The story of that deliberate lie can be found here.
What most people remember Wasabi for is the sudden jolt to the sinus that causes eye watering and a sense of euphoria (certainly makes me feel good). This flair up the nose quickly goes away to be replaced by a strong spicy taste fading to a mild vegetable taste on the tongue. The cycle can then be repeated with no lingering aftertaste like you find with chilies.
This nasal jolt comes from the main chemical that is in all parts of the plant, but mostly in the rhizome - Allyl isothiocyanate. This is the same is found in mustard and horseradish, which is the reason why they are used as the main ingredients in fake "wasabi".
The health benefits of wasabi are the result of Wasabia japonica containing 3 unique chemicals that no other plant contains. These are;
- 6-methythiohexyl isothiocyanate (6-MITC)
- 7-methylthioheptl isothiocyanate (7-MITC)
- 8-methylthiooctyl isothiocyanate (8-MITC)
It is these unique chemicals that give wasabi its characteristic sweet vegetable flavour AND its amazing health benefits.
The place where the majority of these chemicals are found is in the rhizome (swollen stem) of the Wasabia japonica plant. There are tiny amounts in other parts of the plant, but are minimal compared to the rhizome.
What are the Health Benefits of Wasabi?
Regular addition of wasabi to the diet can prevent certain types of cancer. The most notable and beneficial chemicals are the unique isothiocyanates. These form from glucosinolates after the plant is harvested or cut or damaged. The various isothiocyanate antioxidants are very beneficial in eliminating free radicals throughout the body’s systems.
Studies have shown that one form of isothiocyanate in wasabi, 6-MITC, has been clearly shown to inhibit the increase of leukemia and stomach cancer cells. It actually promotes apoptosis (cell death) within 24 hours of consumption. The use of wasabi may prevent the growth of tumors, even at a pre-clinical or pre-treatment size. The most attractive thing about this type of treatment is that isothiocyanates appear to kill cancer cells without damaging the healthy, surrounding cells. This makes the consumption of wasabi as a cancer preventative a realistic protocol to follow to reduce the chance of contracting cancer.
Similar studies have found 6-MITC to be equally effective against breast cancer and melanoma cells, leading many researchers to support wasabi as a small preventative method against multiple types of cancer. Research regarding its strength against other kinds of cancer is still ongoing, but this powerfully flavored plant has already proven itself in the oncological community.
Only genuine wasabi (Wasabia japonica) has the diverse and unique isothiocyanates that can fight a wide range of cancerous conditions. Even other plants in the Brassica family pale in comparison, particularly because they are traditionally cooked before eating, which can reduce the nutritional content, and can degrade the enzymes that lead to isothiocyanate formation.
If you want to help prevent cancer through dietary change, only use real wasabi (Wasabia japonica)!
The unique isothiocyanates in wasabi do more than prevent cancer.
Another popular reason for adding wasabi regularly to your diet is to prevent cardiovascular issues. It helps in lowering high cholesterol levels in the human body, and reduces the chances of strokes and heart attacks. They also have inhibitory affects on platelet aggregation. Platelet aggregation is basically the grouping together or clumping of blood platelets into a thrombus, or blood clot. These clots are the main causes of strokes and other cardiovascular crises. By breaking down and inhibiting the formation of these clots throughout the body, it effectively reduces your risks for heart disease and stroke! Another good reason to add wasabi, in paste or capsule form to your regular diet.
Arthritis and Inflammation
The amazing plant, wasabi, has also been shown to reduce cases of joint swelling, inflammation, and can even subdue the effects of arthritis. Again, the powerful unique antioxidant isothiocyanate compounds have been shown to reduce the inflammation of joints, ligaments, and muscles that may contribute to arthritis and joint pain. Studies suggest that wasabi helps in maintaining bone integrity in humans and can help in reducing the risk of osteoporosis. In the same way that isothiocyanates can reduce platelet aggregation to protect from heart disease, they also can reduce the aggregation at weak points on the body that cause pain or discomfort. Add some true wasabi to your diet and feel younger!
The powerful, natural components of wasabi have also been shown to fight off bacterial infections! In a recent study of the antibacterial properties of various foods and vegetables, wasabi ranked as the most successful antibacterial food against E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus (Golden Staph infections). This means that food poisoning and other unfortunate conditions can be prevented by maintaining levels of isothiocyanates in the diet through the consumption of wasabi. Again, the isothiocyanates were proven to be the vital component that neutralized these potentially deadly bacteria within the body. Some companies have begun to include trace elements of wasabi extract in their antibacterial creams and gels to boost their strength and effectiveness!
Wasabi can be a strong line of defense against certain respiratory tract pathogens. The gaseous component of wasabi, which causes such a powerful reaction in the nasal passages and sinuses, is actually the gaseous release of Allyl isothiocyanate, which can actively inhibit the proliferation of respiratory tract pathogens like those that cause influenza and pneumonia. The smell and the sensation in your nose after eating it may be strong for a short time, but it can do a lot of good for your health and well being.
It “clears the sinuses” when the gas from the wasabi reaches the nasal passage. This can often help people who suffer from seasonal allergies, or even the common cold, to stimulate the sinuses and open the nasal passageways to increase airflow.
Health Risks with using Wasabi
There are no known health risks by using Wasabi on a regular daily basis. The Japanese have been doing just this for thousands of years with no known fatalities due to overdosing on wasabi. The FDA has designated wasabi as GRAS (Generally Recognised As Safe).
The main chemical in Wasabi (once it is activated) is the same as Mustard. Therefore if you are allergic to Mustard then avoid wasabi as well as horseradish.