My previous post about probiotics, Are there ‘good’ bacteria in your food? talked about a healthy food ingredient called Miso. While doing the research on other articles about Okinawan Lifestyle and Superfoods, the name Miso had also appeared several times in lot of information sources on digital and print media. So this time I thought why not to find out a little more about this ‘wonder food’ that is enjoying so much attention of food scientists, nutritionists and health enthusiasts around the world. Here is a brief overview of what I found.
What is Miso?
Miso is a healthy fermented seasoning made from rice, barley and/or soybean with salt and the fungus Kojikin. It is like a thick paste and tastes very salty. There are different varieties and flavours of Miso, common ones are – Shiromiso – white miso; Akamiso – red miso and Awasemiso – mixed miso. Shiromiso is a lighter variety with low salt content and Akamiso is a darker one with stronger flavor due to higher salt. Greater the content of salt and soybean, more pungent will be the taste.
Miso is a very popular ingredient in Asian cooking especially Japanese, Korean and Chinese etc. Probably, that is also one of the contributors to the good health of these people. It has a high nutritional value and is known to be a rich source of antioxidants and phytonutrients. It provides zinc, manganese, amino acids like tryptophan and choline, Vitamin K, copper, omega-3 fatty acids. Now, do you realize why it gets applauded for increasing our overall health? Being a good source of protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals; miso is a great way to nourish each and every cell of your body adding to the holistic health and vigor.
Health benefits of miso
According to the research by Dr. Hiromitsu Watanabe, miso is known to have positive impact in reducing the risk of cancers such as breast, colon, lung and prostrate as well as in protecting from radiations. Those who are interested in understanding the detailed biological effects of miso can read the research paper at http://yufoundation.org/watanabe.pdf.
Linda Page explains the benefits of miso in her book Healthy Healing: A Guide to Self Healing for Everyone. She talks about how miso helps in strengthening immune system, has anti-ageing properties, keeping skin soft and blemish-free as well as its probiotics effect in improving digestion.
Quick and simple vegetarian miso soup recipe
Nourish yourself to this simple-to-cook miso soup recipe with lots of vegetables. Put a pan on medium flame. Add ½ tsp sesame oil. When warm, add 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste. Cook for a minute. Add water (6 cups), wakame seaweed, carrots (long thin-sliced), broccoli (5-6 florets), mushrooms (1 cup sliced and without stem), baby corn and zucchini (1 cup square pieces). You can also add any other vegetable of your choice. Note: Keep all the vegetables chopped before cooking. Cover and simmer for 10-12 minutes. Add uncooked noodles (1/2 packet). Cover and cook until noodles become tender. From this, take out ½ cup soup broth, add 3-4 tsp of white miso to it and whisk until fully dissolve. Add back to the pot and stir. Keep the flame low and do not boil. Just heat a bit and put down the flame. Boiling kills the active microorganisms which are good for health so avoid boiling. Serve 4-5 people
Few concerns before including miso to your diet plan
The World’s Healthiest Foods (www.whfoods.com) places soy foods including miso on its 10 Most Controversial Foods List. This is due to two factors – first, its allergic reactions in certain sensitive individuals and second, high sodium content which puts those with hypertension at risk. So before you include miso in your diet, it is advisable to speak to your doctor, dietitian or nutritionist.
Buying miso in India
In India, as of now miso is not widely available. Either you’ll have to check in high-end supermarkets or hyper-city. Few online stores such as Godrej Nature’s Basket, Gourmet company and eemli.com have ready to use packets of miso. You can buy Maido’s Instant Miso soup priced at Rs. 250 from Nature’s Basket, Clearspring’s organic miso instant soup paste with sea vegetables priced at Rs. 490 from Gourmet and Clearspring’s brown rice, barley and sweet white varieties of miso priced at Rs. 900-1200 from eemli.com. When you make your purchase, go for certified organic soy miso, check the label for date of manufacturing and ensure there are no added preservatives like MSG. Always store in a tightly sealed container in refrigerator.
Look forward to hearing back your experiences with Miso.