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Research Shows Sushi Side, Wasabi, May Benefit Brain Health

— December 21, 2023

Science offers one more reason to enjoy wasabi, and that’s to improve cognitive functioning.

Sushi enthusiasts, rejoice – your favorite green condiment may offer more than just a flavorful kick. Recent research has uncovered a new dimension to wasabi, linking its active ingredient, 6-MSITC, to enhanced short- and long-term memory.

Published in the journal Nutrients by researchers at Tohoku University, the study focused on 72 healthy volunteers aged 60 to 80, revealing intriguing findings about the cognitive benefits of daily wasabi consumption.

The participants were divided into two groups, with one receiving a daily dose of 100 milligrams of wasabi extract, while the other was given a placebo with no wasabi content. After a three-month period of consistent consumption, the subjects underwent testing on language skills, concentration, and simple task execution. The results unveiled a remarkable improvement in memory for those who received the wasabi extract.

Research Shows Sushi Side, Wasabi, May Benefit Brain Health
Photo by Rajesh TP from Pexels

During after the research, there were surprising results that led to the condiment being classified as a brain-performance enhancing food. According to Rui Nouchi, who is a associate professor at TUIDAC (Tohoku) as well as the lead scientist for the study, expressed surprise at the substantial improvement observed during the study. The wasabi group exhibited increased episodic memory, which involves learning, storing, and retrieving information, by an average of 18%. Overall, their memory performance was approximately 14% higher than that of the placebo group.

The active ingredient 6-MSITC, recognized for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, emerged as a key player in the cognitive enhancement witnessed in the study. This compound appears to reduce inflammation in the hippocampus, the brain region responsible for memory. The unexpected cognitive benefits have sparked interest in wasabi’s potential breakthrough for dementia patients.

While commonly appreciated for its pungency, wasabi has been associated with various health benefits beyond its role as a sushi condiment. The study aligns with past research indicating that wasabi could:

  1. Provide high levels of vitamin C for immune system support.
  2. Exhibit anti-inflammatory properties.
  3. Demonstrate antibacterial effects.
  4. Offer protection against neurodegenerative disorders.
  5. Support heart health.
  6. Aid in weight loss.
  7. Contribute to gut health.
  8. Boost bone health.
  9. Assist with sleep and fatigue.
  10. Possess anticancer attributes.

It’s important to note that pure wasabi, Wasabia japonica, is native to Japan and can be rare. What is commonly served in local sushi restaurants is often horseradish dyed green, and a significant portion of wasabi sold in the U.S. could potentially be fake, according to reports. The study was funded by wasabi maker Kinjirushi Co., though the company had no direct involvement in the research itself.

The unexpected cognitive benefits of wasabi open up new avenues for exploring the potential of this sushi condiment as a brain-boosting supplement. As research progresses, wasabi may find its place not only in culinary delights but also as a promising element in the pursuit of cognitive well-being.


Can wasabi help your memory? A new study has linked the sushi condiment to a better brain

6 Promising Health Benefits of Wasabi

Benefits of Wasabi Supplements with 6-MSITC (6-Methylsulfinyl Hexyl Isothiocyanate) on Memory Functioning in Healthy Adults Aged 60 Years and Older: Evidence from a Double-Blinded Randomized Controlled Trial

Wasabi, beloved on sushi, linked to “really substantial” boost in memory, Japanese study finds

The Episodic Memory System: Neurocircuitry and Disorders

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