A recent study suggests that the traditional Japanese spice wasabi may help improve cognitive function in people over 60, providing an easy and tasty way to take care of our brains in old age.
The key component that influences this association is a wasabi ingredient known as 6-methylsulfinylhexylisothiocyanate (6-MSITC). This bioactive compound is previously known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, which slows down cell damage and protects cells, Science Alert writes.
Although a limited number of previous studies have shown the beneficial effects of 6-MSITC on cognitive function, this aspect has not been thoroughly studied among older adults who are at high risk for cognitive decline and related problems such as dementia.
"Previous studies have shown the important role of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents for the cognitive health of older people. Therefore, it can be assumed that 6-MSITC will have a positive effect on the cognitive performance of older adults," the researchers note in their published study.
The research team conducted an experiment involving 72 adults aged 60 and older for 12 weeks. The participants were randomly divided into two groups: one group took wasabi pills once a day, while the other group received a placebo.
At the end of the experiment, the participants who consumed the wasabi showed significantly better results in episodic memory (the ability to recall events from the past) and working memory (temporary storage of information) based on a series of cognitive tests.
However, no differences were found in other aspects of cognitive performance, such as mental alertness, attention, and information processing speed. The researchers believe that wasabi and 6-MSITC may specifically affect the hippocampal part of the brain, which plays an important role in memory function.
"These results indicate that taking 6-MSITC for 12 weeks significantly improves working and episodic memory functions in healthy older adults," the researchers say.
The team is currently planning further research at the biological and molecular levels to better understand how wasabi affects the body and why it has such a beneficial effect.
Despite some limitations of this study, it indicates a clear link between wasabi containing 6-MSITC and improved memory function. Choosing foods that promote a healthy brain in older years and avoiding those that may have a negative impact can be a simple and effective strategy for maintaining cognitive health in old age.
"Older people with less cognitive capacity experience difficulties in daily living, such as shopping, banking and cooking. Therefore, it is important to improve the cognitive functions of older people," the researchers point out.
Attention: This content is for informational purposes only and does not contain any medical advice. For medication, diagnosis, and other medical advice, please consult your doctor.
We have already written about foods rich in calcium and vitamin D.
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