You probably know miso as the cloudy and deliciously salty soup full of diced tofu and seaweed at your favorite sushi restaurant. You know, the dish that graciously tides you over until the spicy tuna and yellow fin rolls make their way to your table. But did you know that slurping down your miso soup could be one of the best decisions you could make for your health?
Miso, a paste made from fermented soybeans, has long been a staple in the standard Japanese diet because of its health benefits and flavor complexity. Not only does it make an appearance in soup, but it’s also used in salad dressings, meat marinades, and vegetable stir-fry.
Miso is becoming increasingly popular in Western kitchens as chefs begin to add it to dishes to increase umami, the fifth basic element of taste often used to make dishes savory. Umami flavors like miso play up the other flavors in the dish, creating a complex and satisfying taste.
The health benefits of miso are also extraordinary. It is eases digestion, decreases cancer risk, and strengthens your immune system. Here are seven reasons to include miso in your diet:
- Great source of vitamin B, especially vitamin B12, which is essential to brain and nervous system health. Vitamin B12 also aids your body in the production of blood.
- Lowers LDL cholesterol. Miso keeps your bad cholesterol levels down and is particularly good for those with high blood pressure.
- Aids with digestion. Some foods can be hard for your digestive system to process. Miso aids with the assimilation of foods into your digestive tract by stimulating the production of digestive acids in the stomach. It also delivers probiotics to the small and large intestines.
- Strengthens the quality of your lymphatic system. Because it is high in vitamin B12, which promotes the production of healthy blood, miso is essential in strengthening your lymphatic system. Healthy and strong blood enables the lymphatic system to effectively rid your body of excess fluid and toxins.
- Miso is an excellent source of protein. In fact, it contains all amino acids, which makes it a complete protein. You body is able to convert miso directly into energy.
- Protects your cells from free radicals because it is very high in antioxidants. This is particularly important in protecting your body from cancer.
- Miso is an alkaloid that protects your body from heavy metal poisoning and radiation by flushing harmful metal compounds from your blood.
Yet like other soy products, miso may not be right for everyone. If you have an allergy, certain thyroid conditions, or a hormonal imbalance, it may be best to limit your consumption of miso or avoid it altogether. Check with your doctor if you’re not sure!
Convinced that miso should be your new dietary staple? Here is how you should use it! Next time you are marinating steak, chicken, fish or tofu, include miso in your recipe. It will bring out the natural flavor complexity of your dish, and keep your body functioning as it should be.
- 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
- 1 tablespoon tamari
- ¼ cup miso (medium color)
- 3 tablespoons sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- ¼ cup water
- 1 pound of your choice of meat, fish, or tofu.
- Place meat, tofu or vegetables in a glass dish.
- Whisk all marinade ingredients together, then pour into the dish taking care to cover entirely by brushing onto the surface of the meat or tofu.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes up to 3 hours before cooking.