Wasabi – Evidence Based Health Benefits of Wasabi

When it comes to healthy eating Japanese cuisine has so much to offer. One of the popular Japanese foods is sashimi and sushi and one condiment always come to mind. It is a condiment so pungent and flavorful that it perfectly complements the taste of raw fish. It is famously called as wasabi. Have you ever wondered how Japanese sashimi and sushi would have fared if wasabi was not created? Truly, it would have been a different story. Thankfully, the Japanese has crafted this condiment and became part of their cuisine. Not only is wasabi known in Japan but all over the world who loves Japanese food. You need not go to Japan in order to savor the Japanese style of healthy eating. Several products are available on regular grocery store shelves. The most cities have an Oriental food market, which offers more unusual items. Wasabi is generally present in most of these markets. Wasabi is not only paired with sashimi and sushi, but with another Japanese cuisine as well.

What is wasabi?

Wasabi is a root vegetable in Japan called Wasabia Japonica. It belongs to the Brassicaceae family. It comes either in paste or powder form. Wasabi powder has to be mixed with water to become a paste. Wasabi has a strong, hot flavor, which disappears within a few seconds and leaves no burning aftertaste in one’s mouth.

This popular condiment has been recorded in the Japanese history as far back as the 8th century, mainly as a medical herb then being a partner to food.

Health Benefits of Wasabi

Let me walk you through the detail on the known health benefits of wasabi:

Anti-obesity effects

In recent years, obesity is one of the prevalent lifestyle-related diseases in the world. Obesity is attributed to the imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure, is closely associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

In fact, obesity is now present among children, even below adolescent age. To prevent this from doing any further damage to people, parents should focus on the food they are serving their children. Parents should start preparing healthy food like a vegetable, fish and fruits and motivate family members to eat/dine together. They should also encourage them to do exercises. With the advent of technology wherein children have succumbed to the virtual world, there is little or even no time for them to play outside and sweat out.

It is not yet too late to start a healthy lifestyle. Japanese food is geared towards healthy living – mostly raw fish, vegetable, and tea. Records will show that the Japanese are one of the longest, if not the longest, in terms of lifespan. Maybe, one of the reasons for their longevity is because of this pungent-tasting green paste.

Studies have demonstrated the potential of hot water extract from wasabi leaves in the prevention of obesity and insulin resistance. Further studies are being undertaken to further prove the anti-obesity effects of wasabi. (1)

Well, it is safe to say that wasabi leaf can be inserted in one’s food plan for a healthy diet.

Anti-inflammatory effects – Isothiocyanates present in wasabi suppress inflammation

Despite being known to cause inflammation in nasal passageway, wasabi paste is beneficial as an anti-inflammatory agent. It helps eliminate inflammation through other parts of your body. This will then redound to helping you make your injuries, sores and infections and other similar conditions into less serious problems.

In relation to this, studies show that wasabi contains a major component called Isothiocyanates (ITCs) which suppresses inflammation. (23)

Anticancer properties – prevents cell-mutation

Wasabi, like broccoli and cabbage, contains a chemical that prevents a cell-mutating substance, which may eventually lead to cancer. (4)

Studies have shown that both horseradish (Armorica Rusticana) and wasabi (Wasabia japonica) contain a chemical called monogalactosyl diacylglycerides, which helps inhibit cancer cell growth. This study has proven that indeed, “real” and “western wasabi” contains almost the same component and are both healthy to eat.  Therefore, we need not worry if the green paste we bought is horseradish or wasabi since they bring the same joy in our healthy eating routine. (4

This is also a welcome information for Japanese food lovers who partners their raw fish with wasabi.  Thus, eating a wide variety of wasabi-laden foods may give you two things: that of enjoying the food and at the same time it may lower your risk of developing cancer.

Antimicrobial & Bactericidal Effects

Studies have shown that Japanese wasabi has the highest bactericidal activity against food-born pathogenic bacteria like E. coli, V. parahaemolyticus, and S. Typhimurium. This goes to show that raw fish, when paired with wasabi, is safe to eat and is a healthy choice. There are issues arising in terms of eating raw fish. Some even discourage people in eating raw fish as it contains bacteria that can only be killed through heat. Hence, studies like this will give us at least a breath of fresh air knowing that it is still safe to eat raw fish when partnered antimicrobial-laden wasabi.

After enumerating the health benefits brought about by wasabi, we can now enjoy Japanese cuisine and pair it with this green paste minus the worries of its effects on our body. After all, with the environment at its lowest ebb and the rising of fast-food chains, we need food partners like wasabi that will give us true joy from savoring the taste of the food and the realization that it will help us live a healthier life.

Wasabi Cultivation

Wasabi can be cultivated in humid tropics. Generally, wasabi is cultivated in Japan. The plant prefers a temperature between 7°C to 22°C. Water is more required for the growth of the plant than sunlight. If you are going to cultivate it in summer, then remember it requires high humidity in the air. Wasabi is intolerant to hot climate.

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