Saturday, March 30, 2013

"Miso" up Your Health

Written by Ze Shen
Part of National Nutrition Month 2013

Picture by Ze Shen

Japan is one of the countries with the highest longevity and lowest BMI rates (Poulain, 2011). Besides a more physically active life style, many native Japanese people also benefit from consuming a diet composed of fresh fruits and vegetables, heart-friendly fish, and soybean products on a daily basis.  Aside from the well-known tofu and green tea, another staple food that has been gaining popularity worldwide is miso, which many Japanese consume at least once a day.

Picture by Ze Shen
Miso is a paste that is commonly made from soybeans, salt, and koji, a yeast mold that
starts the fermentation process. There are just as many variations of miso paste as there are
cheeses, which depend on what other ingredients are added to make the paste. Rice, barley,
and buckwheat are the most popular grains that have been incorporated into the fermented
soybean pastes to infuse it with different flavors. The fermentation process can take as little
as three months or as long as three years, and the longer miso is fermented, the stronger the
aroma that the miso will produce.

Like many other fermented foods, miso helps build a healthy environment in our GI tract.
This welcomes millions of beneficial bacteria to inhabit our intestines, which not only aid in digestion, but also strengthen our immune system. In addition, an assortment of essential vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids are also found in miso.  All of these factors contribute to the healthiness of miso.

Miso has a unique nutty flavor and can add a very savory taste, known as umami, to a variety of dishes. The easiest way to eat miso is to make miso soup. There is no best way to cook miso soups, and it by no means limited to tofu and seaweed. You can add whatever vegetables you like or have in hand, such as carrots, broccoli, and cabbage. Adding one tablespoon of miso to a vegetable soup before it is served can make a world of difference, both in taste and health.


Gutierrez, D. (n.d.). The secret healing benefits of miso - here's why this fermented food is a nutritional powerhouse learn more:

Poulain, M. (2011). Exceptional longevity in okinawa: A plea for in-depth validation. Demographic Research , 25, 24, 245-284. Retrieved from

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