Most of us have seen or tasted miso soup in a restaurant, but we probably never realized the incredible health benefits of this underappreciated appetizer. In this blog, I’m going to give you twelve benefits of eating miso soup. By now, you may know our slogan, “We’re here to help you in going more raw to restore energy and immunity.” So, you may be asking what miso has to do with going more raw. I’ll explain that as we go along, but you’re right: miso paste and its soup are cooked. However, the fermentation process creates raw enzymes and probiotics that will skyrocket our health. In fact, miso is the superfood of fermented foods!
What is Miso?
So, what exactly is miso? It is a salty bean paste, made from cooked then mashed legumes, sea salt, and koji. Koji is a fungus that is used as a culture starter, usually mixed into rice or barley to ferment the mashed beans. The mashed beans can be soybeans, chickpeas, or any legume or mixture of legumes.
If you are concerned about soybeans, most scientists agree that fermented soy is very healthy. Fermented soy can also be natto, tempeh, and tamari. The only reason to avoid miso is if you have a soy allergy. I will talk more about soy’s much undeserved bad rep in another blog.
The miso paste can be put in a crock and covered, but put something under it to catch overflowing juices as it ferments. It should ferment at least six months, but a year or more is best. Some people let it ferment up to four years!
How to Find and Use Miso
If you buy it, keep in mind that larger manufacturers will likely not let it ferment as long as it should. Try to find brands that go longer than a year, if possible. It also needs to be unpasteurized, so that the enzymes and bacteria are still alive. You can test miso paste by mixing it with rice and letting it sit overnight. If the rice is broken down and nearly liquefied, then the miso paste has lots of enzymes in it, so it’s a good choice. Let me know your favorite miso paste brand in the comments below. Or, let me know if you’ve made your own and how it turned out.
The paste can be used as a condiment or it can be mixed in with dressings, dips, sauces, soups, and even nut cheese. Joann will show you how to make raw nut cheese in another recipe blog. The soup itself can be prepared as vegan with tofu or tempeh, carrots, potatoes, shiitake mushrooms, kelp seaweed, onions, and scallions. The paste is mixed in warm water and added after the soup cools down below 118°F, so as to avoid killing the enzymes and probiotics.
Benefits of Miso Soup
- Strengthens our immune system, due to its high probiotic content helping to balance our gut microbiome, which is 80% of our immune system
- Lowers risk of cancer
- Manages blood pressure and lowers cholesterol
- Helps with the nervous system with its vitamin B12
- Aids digestion and nutrient absorption because it contains lots of enzymes, while the prebiotic fiber feeds our gut flora
- Is a natural detoxifier because it contains alkaloids that bind to radiation and heavy metals to flush them out of the body … and we all need help with this, due to our toxic environment
- Contains all of our essential amino acids, so it is a complete protein
- Contains calcium, isoflavones, and vitamin K to promote bone health
- Is alkalizing for the body
- Helps with tension and anxiety to improve mood
- Is high in antioxidants
- Is anti-aging, since it is so high in antioxidants, especially from soybeans
What about the Salt in Miso Soup?
Japanese researchers studied about ten thousand subjects for their intake of soy products. They found that soybeans and tofu lowered the risk of gastric cancer, but they also found that even with the high-salt content in miso, it not only reduced the risk of cancer, but also lowered blood pressure (1).
Even with the higher salt content, miso soup is extraordinarily healthy for our bodies. I highly recommend it and many other fermented foods for our gut microbiome. We have developed a free mini course on this subject, called “How to Heal Your Gut with Fermented Foods: The ultimate guide to increasing probiotics for stronger immunity in one week.” If you would like more detail, learn more below. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter for more health tips! Miso happy you visited!
- Ko KP, Park SK, Yang JJ, Ma SH, Gwack J, Shin A, Kim Y, Kang D, Chang SH, Shin HR, Yoo KY. Intake of soy products and other foods and gastric cancer risk: a prospective study. J Epidemiol. 2013 Sep 5;23(5):337-43.
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