PhotoResearchers are continuing to gather more evidence on the beneficial health effects of eating certain foods. As we reported recently, certain products like onions, turmeric, and red grapes can go a long way towards protecting consumers from chronic inflammation; now, new research shows that eating horseradish can help protect against cancer.

The study, which was conducted by researchers from the University of Illinois, has documented how certain compounds found in horseradish, called glucosinolates, can help detoxify and eliminate free radicals in the body, chemicals that are known to cause cancer.

"We knew horseradish had health benefits, but in this study, we were able to link it to the activation of certain detoxifying enzymes for the first time,” said University of Illinois scientist Mosbah Kushad.

Rating different strains

Previous research done by Kushad and other researchers had identified that horseradish contained glucosinolates, noting that it contained levels that were up to ten times higher than those found in other foods like broccoli.

The new study, however, set out to see if different grades of horseradish were able to detoxify or eliminate free radicals and other cancer-causing agents to a greater degree.

“There was no information on whether the USDA grade of the horseradish root is associated with cancer preventive activity, so we wanted to test that,” said Kushad.

The team tested 11 horseradish strains that were graded by the USDA into three different categories: U.S. Fancy, U.S. No. 1, and U.S. No. 2. The findings suggest that strains rated as U.S. Fancy had significantly higher levels allyl isothiocyanate (AITC), a particular type of glucosinolate that is good at fighting cancer.

Only a teaspoon is needed

The researchers state that incorporating foods that have AITC into your diet can go a long way towards fighting cancer. In addition to being particularly strong at eliminating cancer-causing agents, it is very easily absorbed by the body; researchers estimate that up to 90 percent of it is absorbed when ingested.

Consumers who are worried about having to eat a ton of horseradish to gain these health benefits can also rest easy; the researchers say that consuming just a teaspoon of the potent condiment is necessary to reap the rewards.

The full study has been published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

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