Health Benefits of Horseradish

Horseradish is a spicy root vegetable in the mustard family. The vegetable is planted in early spring or late fall and thrives in colder environments. Horseradish is commonly made into a pre-packaged sauce by the same name, which is used to season everything from fish to burgers. It is similar in flavor to wasabi, which is used as a common sushi garnish.

Horseradish stands out from other vegetables due to its strong, biting flavor. While you won’t get your full day’s vegetable intake from eating horseradish alone, it will add flair to any dish you make with it.

What is horseradish?

Horseradish is a white root vegetable that’s closely related to mustard and wasabi. Its pungent taste and odor lend a spicy kick to any dish.

Horseradish is believed to have originated in Eastern Europe. It’s a cruciferous vegetable, alongside mustard, wasabi, cabbage, broccoli, and kale.

It has a long, white root and green leaves. When the root is cut, an enzyme breaks down a compound called sinigrin into a mustard oil.

This oil, known as allyl isothiocyanate, gives horseradish its telltale odor and taste and may irritate your eyes, nose, and throat.

The root is typically grated and preserved in vinegar, salt, and sugar for use as a condiment. This is known as prepared horseradish.

Horseradish sauce, which adds mayonnaise or sour cream to the mix, is also popular.

Horseradish is often confused with wasabi, another pungent condiment that’s common in Japanese cooking. This is because the “wasabi” you get at most Japanese restaurants is really horseradish paste mixed with green food coloring.

True wasabi (Wasabia japonica) comes from an entirely different plant and is said to have an earthy taste. Additionally, it’s green in color instead of white.


Horseradish packs a nutritional punch well above its weight! This small root is naturally rich in many key nutrients, including:

  • Calcium
  • Dietary fibre
  • Folate
  • Manganese
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Vitamin C
  • Zinc

These nutrients all play important roles in maintaining good overall health.

Health Benefits

Horseradish is more than just an aromatic root vegetable. It has been used medicinally all over the world for centuries.

Even in small amounts, horseradish provides several potential health benefits.

Has antibacterial properties

Allyl isothiocyanate, the oil released when horseradish root is cut, may have powerful antibacterial properties.

Studies suggest that it may fight a range of dangerous bacteria, including E. coli, H. pylori, and Salmonella.

One test-tube study noted that isothiocyanates extracted from horseradish root killed six types of oral bacteria.

Another test-tube study found that these isothiocyanates prevented the growth of four types of fungi that may lead to chronic nail infections.

Isothiocyanates may bind to certain enzymes to prevent bacterial cell growth, though the exact mechanism is not well understood.

May improve respiratory health

Horseradish contains glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, which may protect against cancer, fight bacterial and fungal infections, and improve breathing issues.

Consuming horseradish is known to cause a burning sensation in your sinuses, nose, and throat.

For that reason, it’s often used to relieve colds and breathing issues.

One study in over 1,500 people found that a supplement containing 80 mg of dried horseradish root and 200 mg of nasturtium was as effective as a traditional antibiotic at treating acute sinus infections and bronchitis.

These results suggest that horseradish may improve respiratory health, but more research is needed.

Help Reduce Inflammation

Horseradish, like other members of the mustard plant family, contains a chemical compound called sinigrin. Sinigrin has been shown to help reduce inflammation by blocking or changing the parts of the immune system that cause inflammation. These same studies suggest that sinigrin could help relieve symptoms of atherosclerosis, though more research needs to be done before drawing any definite conclusions.

Fight Cell Damage

Horseradish root is naturally rich in antioxidants, which can help protect your body from cellular damage by attaching themselves to free radicals.

Early studies also suggest that horseradish may prevent the growth of colon, lung, and stomach cancer cells, though more research in humans needs to be done.

May have anticancer effects

Glucosinolates and isothiocyanates in this root vegetable may protect against cancer by inhibiting the growth of cancer cells, as well as promoting their death.

Some horseradish compounds, such as sinigrin, may also act as antioxidants and fight cell damage caused by free radicals. These reactive molecules may increase your risk of diseases, including cancer, when levels become too high in your body.

Test-tube studies suggest that horseradish compounds may prevent the growth of colon, lung, and stomach cancer.

What’s more, peroxidase, an enzyme found in this root, helps activate and boost a powerful anticancer compound that targets human pancreatic cancer cells.

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Helps with Digestion

Along with the taste we love, horseradish helps promote healthy digestion. For instance, it aids in liver function. Horseradish is part of a group called cholagogues because it triggers the gallbladder to release bile, a key aspect of the digestive process that helps keep your whole system healthy.

Helps with Digestion

Along with the taste we love, horseradish helps promote healthy digestion. For instance, it aids in liver function. Horseradish is part of a group called cholagogues because it triggers the gallbladder to release bile, a key aspect of the digestive process that helps keep your whole system healthy.

How to use horseradish

Horseradish is typically preserved in vinegar or a creamy sauce and used as a condiment for meat and fish. It’s also sold as supplements and teas, but the safety of these products is unknown.

Horseradish is mostly used as a condiment.

It’s typically consumed as prepared horseradish, which is made from the grated root, plus vinegar, sugar, and salt. Horseradish sauce, another popular garnish, adds sour cream or mayo to the mix.

These condiments are usually served in small amounts with meat or fish.

To make your own prepared horseradish, grate the root by hand or in a food processor, then store it in vinegar. You can buy the root in stores or online.

Horseradish is also sold in supplement and tea form.

As there is no established safe limit in these forms, consult your healthcare practitioner to ensure proper dosage.


Horseradish is a root vegetable known for its pungent odor and spicy flavor.

Its compounds may provide a variety of health benefits, such as fighting cancer, infections, and respiratory issues.

Horseradish is most often consumed as a condiment. Supplements are best consumed under the guidance of a medical professional.

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