Wasabi may provide ‘really substantial’ boosts to memory: study

Wasabi may provide ‘really substantial’ boosts to memory: study
via Crystal Jo on Unsplash
Michelle De Pacina
By Michelle De Pacina
December 12, 2023
A study by researchers at Tohoku University in Japan suggests that wasabi may have properties beneficial to short- and long-term memory, particularly in the context of cognitive function and dementia. 
About the study: In the study published in the journal Nutrients, researchers involved 72 volunteers aged 60 to 80, who were divided into two groups — one receiving 100 milligrams of wasabi extract daily and the other a placebo pill. After three months, the group given wasabi showed a significant improvement in cognitive function, particularly in episodic memory, with test scores in language skills, concentration and the ability to perform simple tasks increasing by an average of 18%. 
“We knew from earlier animal studies that wasabi conferred health benefits,” lead researcher Rui Nouchi told CBS News. “What really surprised us was the dramatic change. The improvement was really substantial.”
The study was funded by wasabi maker Kinjirushi Co., although the company had no role in the study itself. 
6-MSITC ingredient: According to researchers, the active ingredient in wasabi, 6-MSITC, known for its anti-inflammatory benefits, is believed to reduce inflammation in the hippocampus, the region responsible for memory, leading to significant improvement in both working and episodic memory performances. However, the researchers noted that they did not find any significant improvements in other cognitive areas.
Fake wasabi: Real wasabi, a plant native to Japan, is very rare. According to the Washington Post, the commonly encountered green paste with sushi at restaurants in the U.S. is only likely horseradish dyed green. As wasabi belongs to the Brassica family, which also includes horseradish and mustard, one can seamlessly use horseradish powder as a substitute without being easily identified.
Past and future research: Researchers plan to test wasabi on younger groups and eventually on dementia patients. Past research also indicates various health benefits of wasabi, including vitamin C support, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effects, protection against neurodegenerative disorders, heart health support, weight loss aid, gut health support, bone health boost, fatigue reduction and anti-cancer properties.
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