Study finds wasabi boosts brain function in older people

As people age, brain function decreases. Although there is no way to reverse the aging process, there are some foods that promote cognitive health, including antioxidant-rich options like berries and tomatoes.

Research has found that wasabi, a Japanese spice, has brain-boosting benefits for older adults. Here’s what it can do and easy ways to include it in your diet.

Wasabi, also known as Japanese horseradish, is a plant native to Japan and Korea and parts of Russia. Like mustard, it comes from the Brassica family. Traditionally, people grind wasabi root to make an aromatic and slightly spicy paste similar to hot mustard or horseradish.

Is wasabi good for memory? The short answer is yes. This green spice offers more than just a spicy flavor. Its active ingredient, 6-methylsulfinyl hexyl isothiocyanate (6-MSITC), has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help with several physiological functions, including promoting cognitive function.

The study divided 72 Japanese adults between the ages of 60 and 80 into two groups. One received 0.8 mg of 6-MSITC, while the other received a placebo pill containing zero wasabi. Participants who took actual wasabi pills showed significant improvements in working and episodic memory performance compared to those who took placebo pills.

Working memory refers to how people process, use, and remember information every day. You use it when remembering your shopping list or remembering a phone number. It’s like a mental scratchpad where you write down and process information you may need.

Episodic memory, on the other hand, refers to how you acquire, store, and retrieve information. This is a type of long-term memory that involves remembering past experiences, such as your date with your partner last month.

While the study concluded significant improvements in these aspects, they did not find similar results in other cognitive areas.

Wasabi is more than just a brain food. It comes with positive health effects, which are beneficial for older adults.

1. Anti-inflammatory properties

Inflammation is the immune system’s response to toxins, injuries, and infections. When it becomes chronic, it can contribute to serious conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Wasabi helps suppress enzymes and cells that promote inflammation, including cytokines.

2. Antibacterial effect

Wasabi is good for memory and gut. It can help treat H. pylori, a bacteria that infects the stomach. It can cause peptic ulcers and, in worse cases, stomach cancer and inflammation of the stomach lining.

3. Aids in weight loss

Edible wasabi leaves contain compounds that may aid weight loss. Animal and test-tube studies suggest that wasabi may inhibit the growth of fat cells by turning off genes involved in fat formation.

4. Rich in essential nutrients

Wasabi contains vitamins C and D, which are essential for immune function. It also contains magnesium, which helps regulate the nervous system and reduce the risk of depression.

Now that you know wasabi is good for memory, it’s time to include it in your diet. Here are some ways to use and pair wasabi with your favorite sushi.

1. Add to salad dressing

Salad may be bland. If you’re looking for something to excite your taste buds, add wasabi paste to your dressing of choice. This just might become a new favorite.

If you want to explore a new dressing, mix soy sauce, salt and wasabi and pour it over your greens. You can add apple slices and dried fruits like apricots to add a touch of sweetness and liven up the salad with ginger, onion and citrus.

2. Make Sandwich Spread

Any sandwich will benefit from a wasabis kick. It’s as simple as adding the desired amount of wasabi to transform your lunch into a meal that helps promote cognitive health.

It’s good to mix it with mayonnaise, which reduces its spiciness, so it only adds mild heat. Since mustard and wasabi come from the same family, they taste great when combined.

3. Mix in mashed potatoes

Give a spicy twist to a classic favorite. Add wasabi powder or paste to mashed potatoes, mix it with butter and cream. This combination of sweet and rich ingredients allows you to get all that tangy flavor without compromising the texture of your mashed potatoes.

Along with proper diet and exercise, some nutrient-rich foods other than wasabi are also good for memory.

1. Salmon

This fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce symptoms of depression and may boost memory and learning functions. You can enjoy it with your favorite pasta, garlic butter, capers and a light lemon cream sauce.

2. Nuts

Almonds, walnuts, cashews and other nuts contain impressive amounts of minerals that support mental health. Despite relatively high calorie levels, these foods do not contribute excessively to weight gain.

3. Avocado

Avocado contains healthy fats and is a rich source of lutein, which aids brain health. They also contain folate and vitamin K to improve mood, memory and concentration.

4. Coffee

Your favorite pick-me-up drink contains caffeine and antioxidants, which support brain health. Caffeine is known to improve mood, alertness and concentration. Coffee is beneficial only when taken in limited quantity.

5. Blueberry

These colorful berries have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties like wasabi, making them delicious foods that promote cognitive health. These are healthy and easy to include in your diet. Simply sprinkle them on your bowl of oatmeal or add them to smoothies.

Wasabi is not only good for your sushi but it is also good for your memory. Given the versatile nature of this spice, it is easy to add it to your favorite dishes. Try dishes packed with the spicy flavor of wasabis and reap all the delicious rewards.

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