A miracle called wasabi: Japanese spice paste boosts memory
A recent investigation conducted in Japan has unveiled that wasabi, the fiery ground rhizome that transforms sushi from a mere meal into an experience, also provides a “remarkably significant” enhancement to both short-term and long-term memory.
“We were already aware, from earlier studies on animals, that wasabi had health benefits,” mentioned one of the researchers from his office in northeast Japan. “However, what really astonished us was the considerable change. The enhancement was truly substantial.”
The primary active component in Japanese wasabi is a biochemical called 6-MSITC, a recognized antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent found in only trace amounts elsewhere in the plant kingdom. The study, conducted in a double-blind, randomized manner, involved 72 healthy subjects between the ages of 60 and 80. Half of them were given 100 milligrams of wasabi extract before bedtime, while the remaining participants received a placebo.
After three months, the group receiving the wasabi extract displayed “significant” improvements in two cognitive aspects: working (short-term) memory and the more enduring episodic memory. These improvements were measured through standardized assessments evaluating language skills, concentration, and the ability to perform simple tasks. However, no noticeable progress was observed in other cognitive areas, such as inhibitory control (the ability to stay focused), executive function, or processing speed.
Participants treated with wasabi experienced an average 18% surge in episodic memory scores, with an overall average score 14% higher than the placebo group. This study adds a flavorful twist to the health benefits associated with consuming wasabi, extending its appeal beyond the culinary realm.
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