It’s a consolation meals that’s good for you… A salty meals that will enhance coronary heart well being… A peaceable culinary providing to the West from the son of an impoverished warrior… If these sound too good to be true, enable me to introduce you to the scrumptious, versatile, and fantastic Japanese condiment known as miso.

Miso is a well-liked condiment utilized in many Asian cuisines. In the US, it’s mostly often known as the star ingredient in miso soup. But this pungent paste has a number of different culinary makes use of. Traditional Okinawans, who’re well-known for their longevity and stay in one of many world’s most closely studied “Blue Zones,” usually eat miso soup for breakfast.

Miso is properly regarded for its well being advantages, regardless of containing a major quantity of sodium. But if you happen to’re unfamiliar with miso, chances are you’ll be questioning what precisely it’s, or find out how to incorporate it into your weight-reduction plan outdoors of a conventional miso soup recipe. Let’s have a look at what miso is and what makes it so particular.

What Is Miso?

Miso paste in a bowl and spoon

Miso is a fermented meals mostly made utilizing soybeans. It will also be made with some mixture of different beans, rice, or barley. Its texture is normally paste-like and comparatively thick, much like that of peanut butter. The base of miso is mixed with salt and a fungus tradition known as koji kin, which can also be used to make sake and soy sauce. To make miso, you start by mixing cooked soybeans with koji (starter tradition, usually fermented rice) and saltwater. Then, you ferment this combination for a number of months or, in some circumstances, years. If you possibly can’t wait that lengthy, in fact, you possibly can simply purchase miso off the shelf in well being meals shops, upscale supermarkets, and Asian markets. But some manufacturers add different elements for extra taste.

Miso is a conventional Japanese meals that’s additionally utilized in different Asian cultures (and should have truly originated in China). George Ohsawa, who created the macrobiotic weight-reduction plan, launched miso to the West within the 1960s. Ohsawa, who got here from a poor samurai household, claimed to have cured his tuberculosis by rejecting the sugar-heavy European weight-reduction plan that was colonizing Japan and consuming to stability the common energies of yin and yang. Miso, in line with macrobiotic philosophy, was a novel mix of those energies as a result of mixture of elements and the tempering results of its lengthy fermentation course of.

Miso in America

The Japanese condiment rapidly gained a spot within the pantries of hippies who sought to eat primarily based on macrobiotic ideas. I’m positive that the interiors of many VW microbuses have been replete with its pungent, umami scent. It’s ironic that macrobiotics, which preached consumption of native meals in season, ended up mimicking the standard Japanese weight-reduction plan, resulting in the importation of many elements, together with miso, from Japan.

These days, miso can also be manufactured within the US from American-grown soybeans, due to corporations like South River Miso and American Miso Company. It’s additionally not the unique purview of the counterculture. Some of these former macrobiotic hippies now eat artisanal miso as a part of the fashionable foodie motion.  And so it goes…

Types of Miso

variety of miso types in dish next to miso soup

There are three most important sorts of miso, which differ primarily in ingredient composition, style, and greatest makes use of.

  • White miso is without doubt one of the extra conventional varieties. It has a mellow, candy, or gentle taste, and infrequently contains white rice or one other gentle coloured grain that provides a delicate style. White miso has a shorter fermentation course of, which is why its taste stays so gentle.
  • Yellow or tan miso has a barely stronger taste than white however remains to be on the milder finish of the miso spectrum. It usually makes use of barley or wheat, together with soybeans, as a base. Like white miso, yellow miso is a generally used selection, as its taste profile makes it a flexible kitchen staple.
  • Red miso is darker in shade and has a stronger taste than many different varieties, which comes from its longer fermentation course of. Red miso can also be saltier and is made primarily from soybeans.

Miso Nutrition

Miso diet will fluctuate barely relying on the elements used to make it and the size of fermentation.

Because it’s so salty, most recipes will name for a reasonably small quantity of miso, like a couple of tablespoons at most, to contribute the specified taste.

One ounce (28 grams) of miso affords the next dietary profile:

  • Calories: 55
  • Protein: three grams
  • Total Fat: 1.7 grams
  • Total Carbs: 7.four grams
  • Fiber: 1.5 grams
  • Sugars: 1.7 grams
  • Sodium: 43% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin Ok: 10% of the DV
  • Manganese: 12% of the DV
  • Copper: 6% of the DV

As you possibly can see, miso is low in fats and sugar however could be very excessive in sodium. Miso additionally accommodates some protein and fiber, in addition to many minerals and several other nutritional vitamins. It’s notably excessive in vitamin Ok and manganese. Miso is an efficient supply of phytonutrients and antioxidants, such because the exotically-named ferulic, coumaric, syringic, vanillic, and kojic acids. It’s additionally wealthy in pure probiotics as a consequence of its fermentation course of.

7 Health Benefits of Miso

Miso soup with tofu in bowl

Despite its excessive sodium content material, miso affords many well being advantages. These embrace:

1. May assist enhance digestion.

Probiotics seek advice from many sorts of pleasant micro organism that assist colonize your digestive system with different good microorganisms. Because of the fermentation course of that it goes by, miso is wealthy in pure probiotics.

The most important probiotic pressure in miso is A. oryzae, nevertheless it additionally accommodates Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, Staphylococcus gallinarum, Staphylococcus kloosii, and Lactococcus, amongst others. In a 2018 animal examine in PLoS One, researchers remoted a micro organism in miso known as Tetragenococcus halophilus, and located it to be a robust immunomodulatory pressure (it elevated the expression of sure genes that seem to positively have an effect on the immune system of mice) with potential as a probiotic.

Research additionally exhibits that the probiotics in miso might assist scale back signs related to digestive circumstances like inflammatory bowel illness. And one cross-sectional examine of almost 10,000 folks discovered that miso soup consumption was correlated to decrease charges of gastroesophageal reflux illness.

2. May have protecting results towards most cancers.

Many research have discovered an affiliation between high-salt diets and a better danger for abdomen most cancers, which might make you suppose that miso can be detrimental on this approach. But it seems that miso doesn’t seem to boost the danger of abdomen most cancers like different salty meals can.

In a 2012 examine, researchers in contrast the abdomen most cancers danger of consuming miso to consuming salty meals like salted fish, pickled meals, and processed meats. They discovered that almost all salty meals elevated danger by 24–27%, whereas miso didn’t. Other research have discovered that consuming miso might decrease the danger of liver and breast most cancers by as much as 54%. Plus, miso is excessive in antioxidants — compounds that battle the free radicals that trigger oxidative injury to cells and might result in most cancers. The Okinawan weight-reduction plan is historically excessive in miso and different soy merchandise, and this inhabitants is understood to have very low charges of most cancers.

three. May decrease your danger of sort 2 diabetes.

While proof is blended, some research have indicated that a weight-reduction plan that features fermented soy merchandise like miso might assist delay the onset and development of sort 2 diabetes.

four. May shield towards the consequences of radiation.

This profit first got here to gentle within the years following the dropping of the 2nd atomic bomb in Nagasaki in 1945. A health care provider named Tatuichiro Akizuki and his group have been caring for tuberculosis sufferers close to the bomb website. They had huge radiation publicity, however none of them ended up coming down with acute radiation illness. Dr. Akizuki prompt that maybe common consumption of miso soup had an impact. This led many Europeans to eat miso soup after the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986. Then, in 2013, a examine discovered that miso helped to guard mice from radiation harm. Researchers additional concluded that miso fermented for the longest time — essentially the most vital being 180 days — have been essentially the most protecting.

5. May assist forestall weight problems.

A 2019 examine printed in Nutrients investigated whether or not adjustments in miso consumption between 1975 and 2010 among the many Japanese had an impact on weight problems charges within the inhabitants. The researchers used some unlucky mice to imitate the dietary adjustments seen in Japan, dividing them into three teams and giving them both a high-fat weight-reduction plan, a high-fat weight-reduction plan with train, or a miso-supplemented high-fat weight-reduction plan with train for eight weeks. In the tip, they discovered that lipid accumulation within the fats tissues was the bottom within the miso plus train group.

6. May have antiviral and antibacterial properties.

The probiotics in miso might assist scale back the necessity for antibiotics to battle off sickness by as much as 33%, in line with one examine. Additionally, a 2018 examine discovered that Japanese miso extracts can be utilized as supplemental antiviral brokers to assist deal with extreme hepatitis.

7. May enable you to stay longer total.

Miso is a staple meals within the Okinawan weight-reduction plan, the place individuals are recognized to ceaselessly stay over 100 years. And there’s cause to suppose that the Okinawans’ excessive miso consumption could also be helpful. One examine discovered that women and men who ate essentially the most fermented soy (reminiscent of miso and natto) had round a 10% decrease probability of dying early — from all causes — than those that not often ate these meals. Tofu was additionally studied however didn’t have these results on lifespan.

Miso Health Risks

miso in bowl and soybeans on table

While miso is a powerful soy meals with quite a few well being advantages, there are some things to contemplate if you happen to’re pondering of including it to your weight-reduction plan.

Soy Allergies

Soy-containing miso must be averted within the case of soy allergy. Having a soy allergy is frequent amongst younger children, a lot of whom outgrow it throughout early childhood. Symptoms of a possible soy allergy can embrace stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea, wheezing, hives, dizziness, shortness of breath, and anaphylaxis in extreme circumstances. Miso that’s derived from soybeans shouldn’t be consumed within the case of a suspected or confirmed soy allergy. Fortunately, it’s changing into simpler to seek out soy-free miso lately. One wonderful various is produced from chickpeas.

High in Sodium

There’s no approach round it; miso is a high-sodium meals. In reality, only one teaspoon of miso can comprise as much as 200-300 milligrams of sodium, which is roughly 10% of the each day beneficial sodium consumption for the overall inhabitants. As we’ve seen, nonetheless, current analysis has proven that despite its high-sodium content material, miso doesn’t seem to have an effect on our cardiovascular system in the best way that different high-sodium meals generally can. Even so, extra analysis is required to really feel assured.

If you could have hypertension, or are watching your sodium consumption, it’s greatest to err on the facet of warning and seek the advice of together with your healthcare supplier earlier than including miso to your weight-reduction plan. And for most of us, it might be greatest to make use of it as a substitute for salt and soy sauce reasonably than including it to an already salt-heavy weight-reduction plan.


If it isn’t natural, miso has a danger of containing GMOs. Unfortunately, 90% of the soy produced within the United States is genetically modified, placing miso in danger by affiliation. To keep away from GMO miso, look for one that’s licensed natural or states that it has been made with out GMO soybeans. Miso made in different international locations, reminiscent of Japan or Korea, could also be much less more likely to be genetically modified.

How to Find and Use Miso

Enjoying miso in a bowl with chopsticks

Many grocery shops and pure meals shops carry miso within the refrigerated part. You may discover them at many Japanese and Asian specialty markets, in addition to on-line.

Miso might are available in a bag, tube, glass jar, or plastic container. You’ll wish to retailer it in your fridge at dwelling for greatest preservation. In phrases of the flavour, miso ought to stay comparatively constant for as much as one 12 months.

The totally different forms of miso have particular makes use of, primarily based on the flavour they’ll contribute to a recipe. Lighter misos are good for soups, dressings, spreads, and sauces. Darker misos are good for heavier dishes like stir-fries, grilled or baked dishes, noodle dishes, and in veggie burgers and different meat analogs that profit from extra savory, earthy flavors.

If you’re including it to a scorching dish, wait till cooking is full and let it cool a bit earlier than mixing within the miso on the finish. For miso soup, by no means add the miso to boiling broth. Take the soup off the warmth supply first, so that you don’t kill all these pretty probiotics earlier than they’ve an opportunity to do their factor.

Miso-Friendly Recipes

Discover the magic of miso in these recipes for a salad dressing, cashew cheese, and grain-bowl sauce. It not solely affords umami taste whereas imparting a dose of saltiness, nevertheless it additionally provides a number of diet to those recipes.

1. Balsamic Dijon Hemp Vinaigrette

balsamic dijon hemp vinaigrette

In the case of Balsamic Dijon Hemp Vinaigrette, it enhances the balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, garlic, and ginger completely with its salty, umami taste. Pour it on salads, use it in grain bowls, embrace it in a lettuce wrap, or add it to a sandwich.

2. Turmeric Cashew Cheese

turmeric cashew cheese in bowl with assorted veggies

The addition of probiotic-rich miso provides this cashew cheese its scrumptious umami essence whereas herbs and spices give it a pop of enjoyable taste. Turmeric Cashew Cheese is chock-full of zinc from the cashews, B-vitamins from the miso, and anti inflammatory compounds from the spices. Use it as a dip, on prime of salads, in a wrap, or to make a creamy pasta sauce.

three. Lemon Miso Grain Bowl

lemon miso grain bowl

What’s enjoyable about miso is that you should use it as a base for quite a lot of sauces and dressings, and prime it on a number of totally different grain bowls. Add lemon, ginger, or garlic, or a mixture of all three, to enrich the meal by which you intend to make use of it.

Miso as Part of a Healthy Diet

woman eating japanese style breakfast Coutu

Miso is a wholesome, nutrient-packed fermented meals with some significant well being advantages. In reality, it might even enable you to stay longer. But it is rather excessive in sodium, so if you’re making an attempt to chop down on or remove sodium, chances are you’ll wish to make it your main salt supply, or use it sparingly, if in any respect. If you do wish to use it, then enable your culinary horizons to increase with the fabulous recipes above.

Tell us within the feedback:

  • Do you eat miso? What’s your favourite approach to take pleasure in it?
  • Are you feeling impressed to attempt miso in a selected approach?
  • Were you shocked to listen to about among the advantages of consuming miso?

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