It’s vibrant green, has a pungent spiciness, and, is more than just a condiment you use with sushi. You can eat wasabi fresh or mix it into other foods using its powdered form. However you consume it, it’s easy to add to your diet and provides a nice zing to any meal, that will have your tastebuds dancing. But is wasabi healthy or not?
This spicy Japanese condiment does indeed pack quite a healthy punch! Full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, wasabi’s health benefits are plentiful. Here are 10.
If you're interested in learning more about wasabi, take a Wasabi Farm Tour in Tokyo!
10 Health Benefits of Wasabi
Here are some of the health benefits of real wasabi, or hon-wasabi. As only a small amount of hon-wasabi is used in imitation wasabi products, unfortunately, the health benefits are lost if you eat fake wasabi (even if you consume a lot of it).
- Wasabi boosts the immune system
- It can improve gut health
- Wasabi can help with bone health
- It may reduce the risk of cancer
- Wasabi supports heart health
- It has anti-inflammatory properties
- It has antibacterial properties
- Wasabi can help alleviate seasonal allergies
- It aids in respiratory health
- Wasabi may help you lose weight
1. Wasabi Boosts the Immune System
Wasabi has many immune-system-boosting health benefits, since it contains high amounts of vitamin C and compounds called isothiocyanates (ITCs), which are antimicrobial and help fight off infections.
However, it should be noted that wasabi cannot create a strong immune system on its own. It is best to combine a wasabi-inclusive diet with proper sleep, exercise, and an overall healthy lifestyle to see the full effects of its immune-boosting power.
Note: Wasabi may interact with other herbs, supplements and medications--always consult with your healthcare provider prior to starting something new.
2. It Can Improve Gut Health
Ever sit down after a delicious but heavy meal and suddenly your stomach has become a lead balloon churning around with discomfort? Add a bit of wasabi to the mix and you can lessen the chances of that uncomfortable after-meal feeling!
Wasabi’s health benefits include natural enzymes that can help support proper digestion, aid in nutrient absorption, and may even reduce bloating and indigestion.
Finding real wasabi outside of Japan can be difficult—it's hard to get and very expensive. But if you're looking for hon-wasabi, you can find it in our Japanese Pantry Staples box.
3. Wasabi Can Help With Bone Health
According to some studies, wasabi, particularly its leafstalk, may contribute to better bone health. On top of that, the anti-inflammatory compounds in wasabi might help to ease arthritis pains.
4. It May Reduce the Risk of Cancer
Some research indicates that the consumption of wasabi and other brassica vegetables may inhibit the growth of certain cancer cells (such as colon and breast cancer), which can potentially reduce the risk of those cancers overall. This is due to the isothiocyanate compounds, which may possess anti-cancer properties.
5. Wasabi Supports Heart Health
While wasabi’s spice might get your heart beating, some components in wasabi actually do promote heart health. Adding a bit of wasabi to your diet can help reduce cholesterol and improve blood circulation, which ultimately keeps your blood pressure at a healthy level.
6. Wasabi Has Anti-inflammatory Properties
Its anti-inflammatory properties have many advantages for our overall health. For example, by reducing inflammation, the compounds in wasabi can help reduce pain, promote joint health, and may even lower the risk of chronic inflammatory conditions. Sprinkle some wasabi into your diet and see how you feel.
7. Wasabi Has Antibacterial Properties
This is a good reason why wasabi is often paired with sushi. Due to its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, wasabi can help to act as a safeguard against food-borne illnesses, such as E.coli and Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, especially in raw or undercooked foods (like sushi).
Additionally, wasabi may aid in oral health, as well as reducing bacterial imbalances in the gut.
8. It Can Help Alleviate Seasonal Allergies
Itchy eyes, sneezing, stuffy nose…when allergy season is upon us, reach for the wasabi! Because of the isothiocyanate compounds in wasabi, consuming it can help slow the release of histamines that cause allergic reactions. The best part is the wasabi won’t make you sleepy like many other anti-allergy medicines. Allergy relief and keeps me awake? Sign us up!
9. Wasabi Aids in Respiratory Health
It’s no secret that wasabi packs a spicy punch, but what happens when you ingest this zesty green root? You start to sweat, your nose drips as it clears with mucus, and it feels like every part of your body is expanding and being cleared out. Well, that reaction can actually help improve respiratory health.
By stimulating mucus production and flow, wasabi helps get rid of irritants and allergens from the respiratory tract. Additionally, it can help reduce airway inflammation, which may improve lung function. Also, because of its antimicrobial properties, wasabi may help prevent secondary respiratory infections. Just be careful not to consume too much, as it may have the opposite effect!
10. It May Help You Lose Weight
If you are looking to shed some pounds but in a tasty way, adding a bit of wasabi to your diet can potentially help aid in fat loss. Wasabi may help to temporarily increase metabolism and help the body burn more calories due to its thermogenic effect.
Additionally, because of its strong spicy flavor, it can even reduce appetite and food cravings and make you feel fuller so you eat less. Since wasabi is so flavorful, it may even lessen the need to add higher-calorie flavor additives.
However, it’s important to note that wasabi is just one component in a weight-loss journey. Adding it along with exercise and a balanced diet will net you the best results.
Is Wasabi a Superfood?
There is some debate around whether wasabi is a superfood or not. On the one hand, wasabi is extremely healthy and contains many vitamins and minerals essential to a healthy diet. On the other hand, when compared to other superfoods like blueberries or kale, the health benefits of wasabi and its nutrient content overall falls a bit short.
That is not to say it is not a great addition to a healthy diet. Wasabi still has great nutritional value and there are benefits to consuming it, plus, it tastes great! Incorporating small amounts of wasabi into your diet can add both a zing of flavor and potential health benefits to your meals.
The information in this article is not intended as medical advice. If you have any health concerns, you are encouraged to visit a licensed healthcare provider. Additionally, the health benefits presented here are based on third-party research, and byFood does not endorse any of them. Wasabi may interact with other herbs, supplements and medications--always consult with your healthcare provider prior to starting something new.