Tuesday, June 27, 2017 by Frances Bloomfield
Miso is a staple of Japanese and Chinese cuisine typically made from soybeans, sea salt, koji (live food culture), and grains. The word “miso” is Japanese for “fermented soybean”, though there are miso pastes made from brown rice (genmai miso), buckwheat miso (sobamugi miso), and other grains and legumes. The most famous dish to use miso is miso soup, which is traditional Japanese soup made of dashi, or soup and cooking stock, and softened miso paste.
Miso itself contains a wealth of nutrients and minerals thanks largely to the fermentation process. Not only does fermenting soybeans break down the oils, carbohydrates, and proteins into more digestible forms, but it also encourages the grown of live lactobacilli, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus. These are friendly bacteria that help the body break down food, absorb nutrients, and fend off unfriendly, harmful bacteria. However, these friendly bacteria are only found in unpasteurized miso.
The different nutrients in miso include:
Miso soup can have a high amount of sodium depending on the type of miso used. However, a 2017 study conducted by members of the Japanese Society of International Medicine found no connection between frequent miso soup consumption and blood pressure. In fact, miso may actually be good for the heart since the isoflavones in it can lower cholesterol and reduce blood clotting. This in turn minimizes the chances of heart-related ailments like hypertension, stroke, and heart attacks.
Miso can reduce the risk of other diseases, such as:
The presence of friendly gut bacteria and dietary fiber ensures that miso can contribute to a healthy digestive system. Another gut-friendly nutrient in miso is zinc, a mineral that is necessary for the production of digestive enzymes.
Consuming miso soup can support:
The basic ingredients needed to make miso soup (miso, kombu dashi, or stock made from edible seaweed, and bonito flakes) have become more readily available in grocery stores with International or Asian sections. This accessibility and convenience allows anyone to create homemade miso soup from scratch. Vegetarians and vegans can simply choose not to include bonito flakes or niboshi to create a vegetable-only type of miso soup.
Miso can be used in other dishes. Marinade, salad dressing, glazes, sandwich spreads, and gravies are just some of the unique culinary derivatives from miso.
Miso is considered an average antioxidant thanks to the presence of free radical-eliminating isoflavones like genistein and daidzein.
These antioxidants are thought to play a major role in maintaining healthy skin.
Because it has calcium, isoflavones, and vitamin K, miso can assist in fortifying bones and decreasing the likelihood of developing osteoporosis.
Miso soup can aid in weight loss if kombu dashi is used as the stock. Fucoxanthin, a carotenoid found in seaweed, burns off abdominal fat and can therefore be of great use to anyone who wants to lose weight.
Soybeans are regarded as a major food allergen, as are the food products made from them. If rashes, itching, or swelling of the throat or tongue occur upon consumption of miso, then consult a health specialist immediately.
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