Wasabi is a spicy green paste-like sauce originating in Japan. It is derived from the root of a plant belonging to the Brassicaceae family just like horseradish, mustard and cabbage. Other than going very well with sushi and sashimi, wasabi is also known to offer a wide variety of health benefits, from reducing heart disease risk to alleviating joint inflammation.
Alas, the ones readily and cheaply available at the supermarket near you may not be genuine wasabi. They may be called just like the well-loved Japanese condiment, but only because they have the same appearance and kick. True wasabi can be hard to find these days because the plant where it’s made of is hard to cultivate. Also, the real deal can be very expensive.
What you have in your kitchen may simply be colored and flavored horseradish. The same can be said for the kind that is served at the local restaurants. There are a couple of reasons why this kind of wasabi should cause you displeasure:
1. Fake wasabi does not provide the various health benefits real wasabi is famous for. While some of the ingredients added to colored and flavored wasabi such as turmeric and chili powder offer something positive, the full range of goodness the real deal offers won’t be found anywhere in fake wasabi.
2. Fake wasabi contains ingredients that may be detrimental to the health. The white or soft beige color of horseradish is a far cry from the eye-popping green shade of the wasabi plant. It’s for this reason why food coloring has to be added to processed horseradish in order to give the end product that characteristic green color.
Instead of the root of the actual wasabi plant, the star ingredient of fake wasabi is horseradish. While it’s true that this spicy root has good amounts of vitamin C and trace minerals such as potassium, sodium, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium and zinc, horseradish pales in comparison to that bright green root of a Japanese plant from which genuine wasabi is made.
The real deal is known to help slow down the multiplication of and even kill cancer cells. Wasabi is being revered for its ability to thin the blood, preventing the formation of thrombus (blood clots) that could cause stroke. The consumption of wasabi also promotes digestive health, and it helps ward off joint aches and pains due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Certain ingredients used in the production of fake wasabi make it detrimental to the health. Artificial food colorings used are known to be bad for you, and that is why they are banned in certain countries. These ingredients can have a negative impact on the vital organs as well as glands that secrete hormones. They are also known to cause cancer development.
So how do you dodge fake wasabi? Simply read the label. If it doesn’t say that the product is 100% pure wasabia japonica, put it back on the shelf.