Horseradish is a root vegetable used more often as a condiment than as an actual vegetable side dish. It has a very hot spicy flavor that lends itself to livening meat dishes. Horseradish is traditionally served freshly grated beside a nice juicy chunk of prime rib. The condiment is spread sparingly on the beef for an incredible hot and meaty flavor.
Another popular use of this vegetable is in sauces that are put on sandwiches and salads, but fresh horseradish is delightful. Grating the root is not so delightful, however, and it's important that cooks not rub their eyes if the have been handling it. People who are fans of sushi may be familiar with wasabi, which is sometimes presented as a blob of green paste put on the plate. What is less well known is that what many Americans think of as wasabi is actually an artificial form of the pungent treat, made from horseradish and food coloring. The actual wasabi plant is so expensive that very little real wasabi is on the market.
Horseradish is packed full of potassium and phosphorus. It has long been used as an herbal remedy for respiratory complaints, and most people know that it can clear out the sinuses. Preparations of this root have even been used externally as an ointment to rub into arthritic joints, but too much horseradish can actually burn the skin.
The root also functions as a diuretic. People who have uncomfortable ankle and leg swelling, or other water retention issues, might want to try adding a little horseradish sauce to a sandwich at lunch. Adding it in place of a usual pickle will double the effects, since pickles and olives are prime instigators of water retention.
Scientists are even now studying horseradish as a cancer preventing food. It is packed with glucosinolates, which are known to increase resistance to cancer. Broccoli, also a source of glucosinolates, has only 1/10 as many glucosinolates per weight as horseradish, so people don't have to eat the root by the plateful to achieve some cancer-preventing benefits.