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While a tiny spoonful of miso paste is enough to make a bowl of miso soup, the versatility and miso soup benefits are incredibly surprising. Here is everything you need to know about miso benefits!
Have you ever noticed that your local Japanese restaurants offer you a bowl of hot miso soup when you order sushi? Miso is basically a fermented condiment in the form of paste and a principal ingredient in Asian and Japanese cuisine. Since it is a fermented food, miso is rich in probiotics that improve gut health. It also contains essential minerals and vitamins, offering various other health benefits like a more robust immune system and better digestion.
In recent times, miso is gaining traction in Western cuisine, where food enthusiasts are adopting this ingredient in their cooking. The bold and umami flavors of miso are perfect for adding richness to different dishes.
This post will dive deep into miso benefits and side effects, how it is made, and miso soup benefits. So, let’s get started!
What is Miso?
As mentioned earlier, miso is a fermented traditional Japanese soybean paste. The fermentation process for miso paste involves three main ingredients; salt, cooked soybeans, and molded grain. It is worth remembering that mold, in particular, is used in fermentation. This is the same mold that we use to make soy sauce.
While preparing miso, mold is added to steamed grain, generally barley or rice, where these grains feed fungi. It lets them grow and multiply for 15 to 20 days. Together, they produce a brand new ingredient known as koji. After making the koji, the fermented grain is incorporated into salt and cooked soybeans before putting the blend for fermentation. Finally, once the mixture is ready, it will be mashed and prepared for packaging.
It is worth noting that you can make miso paste in three different types:
- Soybean Miso (Mame Miso)
- Rice Miso (Kome Miso)
- Barley Miso (Mugi Miso)
Miso is perfect for adding different blends of complex flavors, from salty to sweet, bitter, and umami. The flavor can range from mild to sweet and intense depending on how many fragmented grains and salt are used. Similarly, depending on the ingredients and the fermentation process, the color of miso may also vary from white to red to yellow. In a nutshell, the longer you leave it for fermentation, the darker it becomes.
Miso Nutritional Facts
The miso health benefits are a result of minerals, vitamins, and beneficial plant compounds that it contains. For instance, one ounce of miso paste offers:
|Protein: 3 Grams
|Fat: 2 Grams
|Vitamin K: 10%
|Carbs: 7 Grams
In addition to the above minerals and vitamins, miso contains calcium, B vitamins, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and selenium. Captivatingly, the varieties prepared from soybeans are believed to be the perfect protein sources as they provide all the amino acids essential for human health. Furthermore, the fermentation process to make miso helps our body to absorb these nutrients.
Carbs in Miso
A tiny spoonful of miso paste offers 33.7 calories as well as 4.3 g of carbohydrates. Additionally, miso paste also contains small amounts of sugar and fiber. Since it is highly unlikely to consume a significant amount of miso paste, carbs, sugar, and fiber will not affect your diet. Moreover, one or two tablespoons of miso paste are enough for most recipes.
Fats in Miso
Miso paste contains a small amount of fat (1g per serving). According to USDA parameters, 0.2g of that fat is saturated, 0.2 monounsaturated, and 0.5 is polyunsaturated.
Minerals and Vitamins in Miso
Although some sources claim that miso paste contains a substantial amount of vitamins and minerals like manganese, copper, B vitamins, and vitamin K, you get a considerably small intake of miso paste containing only fewer micronutrients than you expect. So, one tablespoon of miso paste does not have enough vitamins and minerals according to USDA guidelines.
For instance, many of us think that miso paste is a rich source of copper. However, one tablespoon contains only 7.8% (0.07g) of the daily value. Similarly, some source tout that miso paste is a good source of B vitamins, but one tablespoon contains as low as 2% (0.03mg) of the daily value.
Moreover, it is also reported that miso contains a significant amount of vitamin K, but a typical one tablespoon provides just 4% (5mg) of the daily value. The case is also the same for manganese, as one tablespoon of miso paste offers only 0.6% (0.15mg) of the daily value.
That said, sodium is the only considerable micronutrient miso paste contains. For instance, unlike other vitamins and minerals mentioned above, one tablespoon of miso provides 643mg of sodium.
Miso Health Benefits
Miso has long been hyped as hearty food. In Japan, they drink a bowl of miso soup thrice daily to stimulate their appetite. Numerous research on the miso soup benefits indicates both long and short-term health benefits. However, while these miso health benefits aren’t definitive and may vary across ethnicity, race, age, diet, gender, etc., a few potential miso benefits include:
· Improved Digestive Health
One of the reasons why there is so much hype about miso soup benefits is the presence of probiotics. Like sauerkraut, yogurt, kimchi, and kombucha, miso paste is also probiotic and encourages the growth of good bacteria. So, consuming an adequate amount of it can help reduce inflammation.
Moreover, consuming good bacteria improves digestion and supports a healthy immune system. In simple, miso benefits our body’s ability to digest and absorb food. One of the main probiotics that miso paste contains is “oryzae,” which eases symptoms associated with digestive health.
· Reduce the Risk of Certain Cancers
Protection against certain types of cancer is one of the notable miso soup benefits. In this regard, the first may be stomach cancer, and according to various observational studies, it is clear that high-salt foods can increase the risk of stomach cancer.
However, despite containing high salt content, miso paste doesn’t increase the risk of stomach cancer. For instance, one observational study compared miso soup to high-salt foods like processed meats, salted fish, and pickled foods.
According to the results, those salted foods were associated with a 25-27% higher risk of cancer, whereas miso paste wasn’t appeared linked to an increased risk. Scientists believe this may be due to soy’s constructive compounds, which counter the cancer-promoting effects.
Moreover, an animal study also suggests that consuming miso may help lower the risk of colon, breast, and lung cancers. This seems valid, especially for miso paste fermented for more extended periods.
· Improved Nervous System
Supporting a healthy nervous system is also among miso benefits. Since miso paste contains a range of essential B vitamins, including B1, B2, B3, B5, and B9, consuming these vitamins benefits the body in various ways. For instance, B vitamins (B3, B5, and B9) help strengthen the nervous system. Since our nervous system controls balance, movement, thought processing, and all five senses, consuming an adequate amount of miso paste is essential.
Moreover, B vitamins are also beneficial for the body as they provide energy – without enough energy, you might feel laziness. B vitamins in miso also help in breaking down the foods into a form of power in the body.
· It Strengthen Immune System
In addition to additional vitamins, miso contains nutrients that can help the immune system function optimally. For instance, the presence of probiotics helps strengthen your gut flora, and as a result, it boosts immunity while also reducing the growth of harmful bacteria.
Moreover, a probiotic diet may also help lower the risk of being sick and help you get well quicker from infections. Additionally, regularly adopting a probiotic rich-diet like miso paste can also help reduce the use of infection-fighting antibiotics. It is worth remembering that different probiotic strains in miso can have varying effects on your health.
· Improved Cognitive Health
The presence of B vitamins and Choline in miso soup is beneficial for improved cognitive development and functionality. Choline, in particular, plays a crucial role in nervous system functions and helps with memory, muscle control, and mood. Hence, improved brain health is also among notable miso soup benefits.
· Improved Bones Health
Vitamin K is another nutrient that can be found in miso soup. It offers 29 micronutrients per 100g (90mg are recommended daily). Since vitamin K is an essential fat-soluble vitamin, it plays a vital role in blood clotting, which is beneficial for healing wounds, cuts, and infections. Keep in mind that a lack of vitamin K in the body could develop osteoporosis.
· It May Help with Cardiovascular Health
According to an observational study, it is clear that consuming an adequate amount of miso regularly can help reduce the risk of strokes. However, the caveat to this is that you should do it in conjunction with sticking to a low-salt diet.
Moreover, according to another Japanese study, it is noticed that regular consumption of miso soup can also aid cardiovascular health. However, while more research is important to confirm miso benefits linked with cardiovascular health, regular consumption of miso soup could improve the cardiovascular system.
Possible Drawbacks of Miso
Despite various miso health benefits, miso paste has a few side effects. However, since most of these drawbacks are an outcome of animal models, they may not translate to humans. In addition, numerous human researchers point to the positive miso health benefits.
· High Blood Pressure
Since miso paste is high in sodium (salt), miso soup contributes up to 10% of the daily salt intake of Japanese people. However, it is clear that a high intake of salt may trigger hypertension. It is also worth noting that the presence of isoflavones in fermented miso helps lower blood pressure, meaning miso paste intake may not contribute to high blood pressure.
· Allergic Reactions
Miso health benefits aside, it is best to avoid the consumption of miso if you are allergic to soy. Moreover, you should avoid miso mixtures prepared from barley if you have gluten sensitivities or suffering from celiac disease.
So, these are a few miso benefits and side effects. Now, let’s discuss how to buy miso.
How to Buy and Use Miso?
Miso is readily available in North America and Europe at conventional and Asian grocery stores. When you are buying miso, ensure to look at its color to determine its taste. For example, darker miso usually has a more robust, saltier taste. However, if you decide to make miso at home, you only need a few ingredients and a lot of patience.
Moreover, miso is tremendously adaptable and can be used in various ways. For instance, you can use miso to add broths, casserole, or marinade flavor. Similarly, you can blend miso with ingredients like tofu, peanut butter, or apple juice to make sauces.
Keep in mind that miso in cold dishes is ideal as it prevents the risk of killing probiotics at high temperatures. However, the topic is still controversial since a few heat-killed probiotics in miso can still be beneficial.
Furthermore, for storing miso, you can keep an unopened miso paste at room temperature for longer periods. However, once you have opened it, keep it in a closed container in the refrigerator.
How to Incorporate Miso in Your Diet?
Here is how you can incorporate miso into your daily diet to reap miso health benefits:
1. Miso Soup
Soup is one of the effective ways to consume more of it and reap various miso soup benefits. Also, this is an excellent recipe if you have never used miso in your dishes. Unlike miso paste, miso soup is full of protein-rich tofu and green veggies, making it a well-rounded recipe for dinner.
2. Miso and Mango Red Cabbage Salad
The Ingredient so extremely flavorful that only a spoonful can transform a simple dish into a delicious one. You can make miso and mango red cabbage salad that will hit on flavors through the taste spectrum. Consider it as a salad topping alternative that is full of miso benefits.
3. Miso Fried Rice
Another way to reap miso benefits is to incorporate it into your fried rice recipe. It is an easy way to incorporate complex flavors into your dish. Additionally, do not hesitate to add some chicken and tofu to boost the protein, making your dish healthier and delicious.
4. Miso Roasted Cauliflower
Eating roasted cauliflower alone can taste pretty bland. However, that is exactly what makes the veggie a healthy food chameleon. Roasting cauliflower with miso paste is easy to incorporate into your diet. You can also top your dish with cilantro and lime, adding another layer to a rich flavor profile.
5. Miso Flavored Noodles
Do you love noodles? If yes, then miso-flavored noodles are a perfect dish for you. Slurping miso-flavored noodles will give you the same satisfaction you get from the beloved miso soup. While the dish doesn’t include broth, you can work the noodles into one. Throwing together takes no more than a few minutes, and your dish will be 100 percent delicious and vegan.
That’s all about miso health benefits. Miso is an incredibly resourceful ingredient that you can use to add complex flavors, textures, and umami taste to your recipes. While miso soup is a common dish, you can experiment with this ingredient in many ways and incorporate it into your diet.
Moreover, we also recommend to check with a registered dietitian before you make any significant diet changes.
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