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Wasabi: Brilliant at Boosting Ageing Brains

Research shows that this Japanese condiment has a positive impact on memory and cognitive function amongst older people.

Sushi beside with green wasabi paste
Sushi beside some green wasabi paste | Unsplash

If you’ve ever misjudged the potency of a dollop of wasabi on your sushi, you’ll be well versed in its ability to clear sinuses and, for a moment, have you feeling like you can see through space and time. Be that as it may, the good news is that, for the first time, this powerful additive has been shown to have other powers: it improves short- and long-term memory, and bolsters associative memory, in the brains of people aged 60-80 years, according to new research published in the journal Nutrients.

Researchers gave a daily supplement of 100 mg of wasabi extract (with its key component of 6-MSITC), whilst the control group took a placebo. Whilst 6-MSITC is present in cruciferous vegetables, it's most concentrated in the underground rhizome of the wasabi plant (Eutrema japonicum).

Before and after the trial, the participants completed cognitive tests that included a focus on processing speed, attention, short-term memory, working memory, executive functions and visual-spatial abilities.

The results showed that those who took their nightly wasabi tablets had improved long- and short-term memory and did better on association tests, such as linking names to faces. The placebo cohort showed no differences in cognitive function.

“These findings suggest that the 12 weeks’ 6-MSITC intake selectively enhances working and episodic memory functions in healthy older adults,” the researchers noted. “This study is the first to demonstrate that 6-MSITC has a benefit on memory functioning in healthy older adults.”

The good news for those who don't enjoy the wasabi burn? When packaged up in a supplement, all the pain is happily bypassed.



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