Home NewsroomLife & ConsumerFood Latest Japanese Study: Sushi Dipped in Wasabi can Prevent Dementia

Latest Japanese Study: Sushi Dipped in Wasabi can Prevent Dementia

by Amélie Poulain
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Eating sashimi dipped in “wasabi” not only adds a spiciness to the fresh fish, it also has a food science-based sterilizing effect, reducing the risk of eating raw fish. The latest research shows that adding “wasabi” to dishes can reduce the risk of dementia and improve the memory, attention, and language skills of the elderly.


The latest Japanese research shows that eating wasabi can help improve memory.
(Photo via unsplash.com)

TAIPEI, TAIWAN (Merxwire) – Eating sashimi with a little wasabi can add a bit of spiciness to the tender fish, which is very enjoyable. It also removes fishy smells and sterilizes food, reducing the risk of eating raw fish. The latest research has found that adding “wasabi” to dishes could add flavor, sterilize, and reduce the risk of dementia. A study by Tohoku University in Japan found that the elderly in the experimental group ate about 5 grams of wasabi daily. After three months, their long-term and short-term memory, attention and language skills improved.

Rui Nouchi, the principal investigator of this experiment and associate professor at the Institute for Development, Aging, and Cancer, Tohoku University, mentioned that wasabi has been found to have many health benefits in past animal studies, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities. The focus of this study is to explore whether the active ingredient 6-MSITC in Japanese wasabi, in addition to its well-known anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities, can improve the cognitive abilities of people over 60 years old.

The experimental subjects of this study were 72 healthy elderly people aged between 60 and 80 years old, who were divided into two groups in a double-blind and random manner. Subjects in the experimental group took 0.8 mg of 6-MSITC as a nutritional supplement before going to bed every day. This dose was approximately equivalent to eating 5 grams of wasabi. The control group took a placebo. After taking it for 12 weeks, episodic memory and working memory cognitive tests were conducted to explore whether wasabi has any benefits for the cognitive ability of the elderly.

The test results found that the subjects in the experimental group had significant improvements in attention, language ability, and execution of simple tasks compared with subjects taking a placebo. Among them, the ability to remember episodic memory belonging to long-term memory was on average 18% higher than that of the control group. Working memory capacity, which belongs to short-term memory, is 14% higher. In terms of cognitive ability improvement, simple calculations, short conversation skills, and face recognition have improved the most. This is also a common memory problem for the elderly.

The research team believes that it is mainly because 6-MSITC in wasabi can reduce oxidation and inflammation in the hippocampus related to memory function in the brain while enhancing neuroplasticity. As a result, the short-term memory and long-term episodic memory of the elderly in the experimental group were greatly improved. The placebo control group showed no change. The research results have been published in the European journal “Nutrients”.

The best Japanese cuisine always pays attention to the use of wasabi.
(Photo via unsplash.com)

The Tohoku University research team’s next goal is to expand the age-group test to explore whether wasabi can also reduce cognitive decline in patients with dementia. Associate Professor Rui Nouchi believes that although other studies have found that exercise, music, and dietary therapies can help prevent dementia, patients are more likely to be unwilling to implement them or give up halfway. Taking wasabi extract as a nutritional supplement is easier for the elderly to continue trying. Wasabi has also been proven to have better antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects than turmeric and ginger, so it is a good health food.

In Japanese cuisine, wasabi is most commonly ground into puree and used as an ingredient for sashimi or sushi. It is usually used in fresh fish, shellfish, raw meat, and soba noodles, and is also eaten with soy sauce. It is not easy to grow real wasabi, because it must be planted in high mountains and beside streams with water. Freshness is important, so it is expensive. The more high-end Japanese restaurants pay more attention to how to use wasabi. Usually, the roots are ground into puree, and the leaves and young stems are pickled and eaten, giving it a refreshing and spicy taste.

Because wasabi is more expensive and difficult to grow, and it takes two years to mature. Therefore, many wasabi purees sold on the market are made from cheaper white horseradish ground and dyed with green food coloring as a substitute. Most people often mistake mustard for wasabi, but in fact, mustard is made from mustard seeds, not wasabi. Therefore, the study also mentioned that we should pay attention to packaging labels and choose merchants carefully so that we can eat real wasabi and achieve the healthcare functions measured in the experiment.

Wasabi is an indispensable dipping sauce for Japanese sushi.
(Photo via unsplash.com)

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