Horseradish Carries Cancer-Fighting Compounds

Compound in horseradish called glucosinolates found to eliminate cancer-causing free radicals.

For the first time, the activation of cancer-fighting compounds found in horseradish roots has been documented.

Researchers from the University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) conducted a study demonstrating that compounds found in horseradish, called glucosinolates, may help detoxify and eliminate cancer-causing free radicals.

“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 researcher Mosbah Kushad.

Prior research shows horseradish contains about 10 times more glucosinolates than broccoli.

The current study looked for the products of glucosinolate hydrolysis, which is responsible for activating the enzymes involved in the detoxification process of cancer-causing molecules.

The USDA categorizes fresh market horseradish based on the length and diameter of the root as US Fancy, US No.1, or US No.2. Using this rating system, researchers compared the quantity and activity of the products found in 11 horseradish strains.

“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,” Kushad said.

The results of the study showed that the strains found in the higher-grade US Fancy category has significantly more glucosinolates than US No.1.

The concentration of the different glucosinolate hydrolysis products varied based on the USDA grade. The US Fancy had greater allylisothiocyanate (AITC), while US No.1 had greater 1-cyano 2,3-epithiopropane (CETP).

CETP is a comparatively weaker cancer-fighter than AITC, however, the detection of CETP in horseradish is still notable, said researchers.

“To our knowledge, this is the first detection and measurement of CETP from horseradish,” Kushad said.

Since AITC activates the glucosinolate hydrolysis enzymes responsible for detoxifying the cancer-causing molecules and about 90% of it is absorbed when ingested, researchers suggest that it is a good dietary anti-carcinogen.

“No one is going to eat a pound of horseradish,” Kushad said. “Luckily, a teaspoon of the pungent condiment is sufficient to get the benefit.”