Beyond its distinctive aroma and fiery taste that accompanies sushi, wasabi, also known as Japanese horseradish, offers a multitude of significant health benefits. Wasabi, scientifically referred to as Wasabia japonica (Miq.) Matsum, is a perennial plant indigenous to Japan that has been cultivated for over a millennium. As the popularity of Japanese cuisine spreads, it is now grown in other countries as well.
Renowned for its sharp, pungent flavor and vibrant green hue, wasabi belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family and thrives along streambeds in Japan’s mountain river valleys. It is also cultivated in parts of China, New Zealand, North America, and Korea.
The compounds responsible for wasabi’s potent smell and distinctive flavor are called isothiocyanates (ITCs), which offer various health benefits. However, it is important to note that high intake of ITCs can be toxic. Let’s delve deeper into the remarkable contributions of wasabi to our well-being.
Antibacterial properties of wasabi
A study conducted in 2008 examined the antibacterial activity of Korean and Japanese wasabi roots, stems, and leaves against Helicobacter pylori. The different parts of the wasabi plant, from which allyl isothiocyanate (AIT) was extracted, exhibited antibacterial effects against strains NCTC 11637, YS 27, and YS 50, with the leaves demonstrating the highest efficacy.
Further research suggested that wasabi leaves and AIT could serve as a natural remedy for stomach lesions caused by H. pylori. This bacterium commonly infects the stomach and small intestine, playing a primary role in peptic ulcers, inflammation of the stomach lining, and stomach cancer. The prevalence of H. pylori may vary among countries due to socioeconomic factors, sanitation, and urbanization levels.
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