Naturopathic Kitchen: Miso

Miso paste in a ceramic pot

You may have encountered miso in soups, vegetarian gravies, and other dishes, but do you know what it can do for your health?

What is Miso?

Miso is a popular condiment that has a number of health benefits. It is a thick paste made of fermented soybeans and can be white, brown, yellow, or red, depending on how it has been processed and how long it has been aged. Typically, the rule of thumb is the darker the miso, the richer and saltier the flavor. Miso has a salty, umami flavor that adds depth to savory dishes. It is often used to make soups and to add a meaty flavor to vegetarian dishes.

The Health Benefits of Miso

High Vitamin & Mineral Content

Miso is a good source of multiple minerals and vitamins. Just one ounce of miso contains 12% of the recommended dietary intake (RDI) of manganese, 10% of the RDI of vitamin K, 6% of the RDI of copper, and 5% of the RDI of zinc. 1 Not only is miso high in nutritional content, but its fermentation process also makes it easier for your body to absorb these nutrients. 2 3 Keep in mind that, in addition to a number of vitamins and minerals, miso is high in sodium. If you are watching your salt intake, stick to small amounts of miso and speak to a naturopathic doctor about the best ways to integrate miso into your diet without increasing your sodium intake too much.

Contains Probiotics

Miso is a good source of probiotics, particularly the strain A. oryzae. 4 Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help boost gut health by improving digestion and reducing symptoms like gas, constipation, bloating, and diarrhea. 5 Adding miso to your diet is a good idea if you want to strengthen your microbiome and improve your digestive health.

May Reduce the Risk of Breast Cancer

More research needs to be conducted, but initial studies suggest that miso may reduce the risk of developing breast cancer, particularly in postmenopausal individuals. 6 This may have to do with the high content of antioxidants in miso, which help guard your body against free radicals associated with cancer. 7 While miso’s potential cancer-fighting properties are not confirmed and require more studies, the early research suggests that adding miso to your diet may be helpful in reducing your risk.

Fast and Satisfying Miso Soup

As the name implies, this soup is quick and easy, making it an ideal entrée when time is short. It is also warming, nourishing, and an excellent companion for rainy and cold days. Just one serving has more than half of your daily fiber needs, thanks to the brown rice and veggies. Nori (like all sea vegetables) is a great source of iodine.

Recipe courtesy of Bastyr University.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups water
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 cup carrot, thinly sliced
  • 3 cups cabbage, finely shredded
  • 1 inch piece of ginger root, peeled
  • ½ cup miso paste
  • 2 cups brown rice, cooked
  • 1 ⅓ cup tofu, diced
  • 4 tbsp green onions, finely sliced (green parts only)
  • To taste nori sheets, crumbled (optional)
  • 2 cups spinach, washed, dried and roughly chopped

Instructions

In a large stockpot, combine the water and vegetable stock and turn heat to medium low. Add the carrot, cabbage, and ginger to the pot. Simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 8-10 minutes.

While the vegetables are simmering, assemble four bowls. Add ½ cup cooked rice, ⅓ cup diced tofu, ½ cup spinach and 1 tablespoon green onion to each bowl.

When the vegetables are tender, turn the heat off and discard the ginger. Add the miso paste and stir until it is incorporated and no chunks remain. Divide the soup and vegetables among four bowls. Let the miso sit for 5 minutes before serving. Top with the desired amount of crumbled nori.

 

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