Miso Soup is a delicacy which you must have enjoyed. It has been in existence for some centuries now! The secret ingredient is the Miso. Miso has a dense concentration of essential nutrients that has remarkable health benefiting as well as disease-fighting properties. Miso paste, obtained by fermenting a mixture of soybeans and several grains such as barley, brown rice etc with a fungus (Aspergillus oryzae) is a popular Asian seasoning having a strong and salty taste. Often added to soups and other Asian dishes, it imparts a rich, hearty and complex flavor to any dish. Although miso is considered to be a high-sodium food, research has shown that it does not affect our cardiovascular health in ways the other foods high in sodium usually does. Recent studies have found that the intake of miso among people in Japan have helped in lowering the risk of cardiovascular problems.
Nutritional value of Miso
Miso paste is low in calories and cholesterol, thus it can be included as part of a low-fat diet. As soybean is one of the primary ingredients in miso, it is high in protein content. A cup of miso contains about 32 grams of protein in addition to all the essential amino acids required by your body. The high amounts of protein and amino acids in miso makes it an important source of complete protein, especially beneficial for people following a vegan diet. Miso contains digestive enzymes and bacteria that help in the digestion and assimilation of nutrients. It also contains vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin K and a good amount of B complex vitamins like thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12. It is also a great source of dietary fiber and a variety of minerals such as copper, iron, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, manganese and selenium. Miso is also high in antioxidants that eliminate the dangerous free radicals from the body, thus preventing oxidation damage to the cells.Miso adds Umami or the fifth taste to any dish. Click To Tweet
Health benefits of Miso
Miso is highly rich in nutrients mainly because the fermentation process breaks down the complex oils, carbohydrates and proteins found in soybeans into easily digestible forms. Moreover, the final product contains live lactobacilli that improves the extraction and absorption of nutrients by your body. By increasing the amounts of beneficial bacteria in the body, miso not only aids in digestion but also in improving your immune health. In addition to adding exceptional depth and flavor to dishes, this super food also has the ability to lower the risk of degenerative diseases and contribute to your overall health. Let’s look at the various health benefits offered by this amazing food:
The antioxidant power of Miso
Miso paste made from soy contains a group of antioxidants that are produced during fermentation. Several studies, indicate that the amount of certain antioxidants such as DDPH (2,2,-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl) in miso increases when the soy is fermented for a longer period of time. Miso is also a rich source of a wide variety of phytonutrients that have amazing anti-inflammatory effects and also function as antioxidants. Soy miso also contain Genistein, an isoflavon that slows down the ability of cancer to grow and proliferate. Genistein is a powerful antioxidant that helps eliminate the free radicals and prevent cellular degeneration and many other serious health problems. Research shows that the dietary intake of this isoflavin compound is associated with reduced risk of certain types of cancers, including prostate, breast, colon, liver, lung and stomach cancers.
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Miso as an anti-aging solution
Miso can help you have a healthy and youthful appearance. The anti-aging property of this food is mainly attributed to the high concentration of antioxidants present in it. These antioxidants destroy the harmful free radicals that are responsible to a great extent for premature aging. Miso contains linoleic acid, which helps in keeping the skin soft and supple. It also lighten your skin and reduces aging signs like wrinkles and pigmentation.
Miso is a healthy probiotic food
Miso is a great probiotic food that adds beneficial microorganisms to your digestive tract, thus aiding digestion. The large intestine contains millions and millions of these beneficial microorganisms that help in digesting food and processing indigestible substances like fiber. They help maintain the balance of bacteria your intestine and protect your body from harmful bacteria that are ingested through food. Miso paste contains millions of microorganisms that are similar to those found in your large intestine. In addition to being a good probiotic, miso also helps prevent digestive issues like diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome and various other intestinal infections.
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Miso offers cardiovascular benefits
According to medical research, a balance of minerals such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sodium in the body can help maintain a healthy blood pressure. It has been found that the mineral potassium helps in relaxing blood vessels and also in negating the effects of sodium, thus helping in reducing blood pressure. A four-year study on elderly Japanese men and women with normal blood pressure showed that the daily intake of two bowls of miso soup (prepared with the right combination of ingredients) can help prevent the development of high blood pressure. Another thirteen-year study conducted on a large population of Japanese men and women showed that the risk of death from high blood pressure is three and a half times higher in people who didn’t consume miso soup when compared to miso soup drinkers. Besides reducing blood pressure, miso also lowers cholesterol, which in turn helps to prevent strokes and heart attacks. This means that incorporating miso in your regular diet can help lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, thus reducing the risk of cardiovascular problems.
Miso for stronger immune system
The immune system plays a key role in protecting the body against the various microbes found in the environment. Equipped with the right amount of vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients, miso helps in strengthening your immune system. The beneficial bacteria in miso also helps in giving a boost to the immune health. Miso is rich in an arginine, an amino acid that enhances the functions of the immune system and even fights against diseases like cancer and AIDS. This amino acid is also beneficial in various other functions such as hormone balance, weight loss, stimulation of pancreas to release insulin and liver functions.
Miso is a natural antacid
Several studies indicate that miso has the ability to soothe excess acidity in the stomach. It contains proteins, amino acids, peptides and certain organic acids that exhibit powerful buffer activity. These buffers reduce the excess acidity in the stomach and provides instant relief from gastrointestinal discomfort.
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Miso is a mood enhancer
Another health benefit of miso is that it helps in improving your mood. Drinking miso soup is considered a great remedy for conditions such as depression, stress, anxiety, tension and fatigue. Miso contains B vitamins like folate, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 that stimulates the production of chemicals like serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine. These chemicals may help improve your mood as well as ward off depression. Research shows that boosting the levels of folate in depressed patients helped in improving their mood. The presence of probiotics in miso is another factor that contributes to its mood enhancing property. According to a preliminary research from University College Cork in Ireland, foods rich in probiotics are beneficial in fighting depression and stress.
Miso for stronger bones
Miso is a good source of bone-building minerals like calcium, magnesium, manganese, and selenium, all of which help in promoting and maintaining excellent bone health. It is also found to reduce your risk of conditions like osteoporosis. Another component in miso that benefits your bones is the isoflavone genistein. According to a study, genistein was found to be beneficial in building bone mineral density and improving the strength of bones. Daidzein is another isoflavone found in miso that has been found to be very similar to ipriflavone, a drug used for the treatment of osteoporosis. Miso also facilitates the absorption of calcium and other minerals by your body. Therefore the regular consumption of miso is a great way to improve bone density and prevent osteoporosis.
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Miso for diabetic patients
According to a study published in the journal “Nutrition Research”, miso may be helpful in protecting against type 2 diabetes. Researchers have found that the intake of fermented soy foods improves insulin resistance as well as the secretion of insulin. It may thus help inhibit or even prevent the progression of type 2 diabetes.
Miso reduces food allergies
The complex proteins found in foods sometimes causes your immune system to trigger an immune response, which leads to food allergies. Miso contains proteolytic enzymes that help in degrading these complex proteins into less complex amino acids, thus making them less allergenic. It is also easier for your body to digest and assimilate these amino acids.
Miso lowers risk of cancer
Various studies have found that consumption of miso or miso soup can reduce risk of breast cancer, colon cancer and liver cancer. A study in reputed Japanese cancer research institute suggests frequent intake of miso to reduce breast cancer risk. Another interesting study pointed out to its benefits to protect against radioactive effects.
Miso paste is available in a variety of colors depending on the type of beans and grains used for fermentation. Some of the most popular varieties of miso include hatcho (soy only), kome (soy + white rice), genmai (soy + brown rice), soba (soy + buckwheat) and mugi (soy + barley). The paste can be dissolved in water and added as a seasoning in sauces, soups and other dishes. Many of the public health organizations such as the the American Heart Association, American Diabetes Association, and the American Cancer Society recommend the intake of legumes for optimizing health and preventing diseases. Since miso is made from soy beans, which falls under the category of legumes, it’s regular consumption is definitely beneficial to your overall health and well-being.Image Credits: Flickr: Sizeofguam, Flickr: Peter Kenny