The Powers Of Miso (Nutrition, Benefits & Recipes That Aren’t All Soup!)

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Ever wonder about the nutritional value attached to the miso soup you are served before your sushi course at Japanese restaurants? Or what the actual miso part of the soup is? Here’s your ultimate guide to what miso is, it’s nutritional value, health benefits and some creative recipes!

What is miso, is it healthy and how do you use it?


What Is Miso?

Most people would know of miso as that soup you get before your sushi at a Japanese restaurant. The actual miso part of the soup is, in fact, a paste, which is made from fermenting soy beans with barley or rice malt. The fermentation is caused by a mixture of salt, water and a fungus. Traditionally, the paste is used to thicken the Japanese soup you might be familiar with, and often comes with tofu chunks and/or vegetables. However, miso is not just for soup! Being a strong flavor, it is quite versatile and can be used in a number of dishes. For example, as a meat or vegetable glaze, or a thickener in sauces or stir fries.

There are three types of miso – shiromiso, akamiso and awasemiso, which translate to white, red and mixed. White is not fermented as long as the other two, which creates a milder tasting flavor. Red has a longer fermentation period and is saltier than white, giving it a much stronger flavor. And mixed is, unsurprisingly, a combination of the two! It has a relatively strong taste and is dark in color.

Miso paste

Nutritional Information (100 grams)

Calories – 199

Carbohydrates – 26.5 grams

Dietary Fiber – 5.4 grams

Sugars – 6 grams

Total Fat – 6 grams

Protein – 12 grams

Calcium – 6% of RDI

Magnesium – 12% of RDI

Iron – 14% of RDI

Phosphorus – 16% of RDI

Potassium – 6% of RDI

Sodium – 155% of RDI

Zinc – 17% of RDI

Copper – 21% of RDI

Manganese – 43% of RDI

Selenium – 10% of RDI

Vitamin A – 2% of RDI

Vitamin K – 37% of RDI

Thiamin – 7% of RDI

Riboflavin – 14% of RDI

Niacin – 5% of RDI

Vitamin B6 – 10% of RDI

Folate – 5% of RDI

Vitamin B12 – 1% of RDI

Miso soup

A Brief History Of Miso

Miso dates as far back as the 4th Century BC in China. It originated as a seasoning called Hisio, which was made by fermenting soy beans, wheat, alcohol and salt. Miso was introduced to Japan by Buddhist monks in the 7th century. From there, it became a vital part of the samurai diet and eventually became a widespread staple in Japanese dining.

Health Benefits Of Miso

Miso is a powerful ingredient that only needs to be used in small amounts to reap the health benefits of its concentrated nutrients. Here are some of the main benefits of miso…


Miso Is A Good Source Of Protein

Miso is a rich source of protein, with 12 grams in every 100. The protein comes from the soy in the miso, which is the main ingredient in the paste. Soy is also a vegan source of protein, which is great for vegans and vegetarians, who can’t get their daily dose from meat products. Protein is an essential nutrient that builds muscles and fills you up. It is, in fact, the major structural component of cells, responsible for building and repairing tissues in the body. It is therefore essential to repair muscles following exercise, for example. When consumed as food, protein is broken down into amino acids, which are then used as building blocks for the protein in your body.

Miso paste soy

Miso Is A Good Source Of Vitamins And Minerals

As well as protein, miso is high in some vitamins and minerals, including copper, manganese, phosphorus, vitamin K, magnesium, iron and zinc. Each of these nutrients play an important role in everyday health. Copper, for example, is an essential trace mineral found in the liver, brain, heart, kidneys and muscles. It increases the absorption of iron and is an ingredient in the production of skin. Manganese is important for healthy bone structure and metabolism. Phosphorus also maintains strong bones. It is a necessary mineral for body detoxification through waste and aids effective metabolism. Phosphorus helps balance the body’s pH and improves digestion.


Vitamin K helps control blood clotting and is important for bone health. It assists in preventing heart disease and reducing neural damage. Magnesium has a number of powerful health benefits. It helps increase energy, eases anxiety and nervousness, aids digestion, eases muscle aches and spasms and regulates calcium, sodium and potassium levels. Magnesium also reduces symptoms of headaches, may help prevent osteoporosis, and is important for a healthy heart. Iron plays an extremely important role in the production of red blood cells and hemoglobin. It helps metabolize proteins and reduces the risk of anemia and fatigue. And finally, zinc supports healthy immune and digestive systems. It helps control diabetes, reduces stress levels and improves metabolism. Zinc also aids with wound healing and weight loss, and improves night vision and hair health.

Tofu miso soup

Miso Is Good For The Gut

Miso is a fermented food, and its health benefits are largely thanks to that process. During fermentation, the natural bacteria and yeasts begin feeding on the food’s sugar and starch, turning the microorganisms in the sugar and starch into lactic acid. That process creates powerful enzymes, including the beneficial bacteria, probiotics. This helps to heal a range of health issues, including problems with digestion. It also aids the body in absorbing and using nutrients. Probiotics keep your intestinal flora healthy and are particularly beneficial to gut health. They work by protecting your stomach and intestinal lining while reducing inflammation.

Gut health

The Main Concerns

Like many foods, there are pros, cons and varying views about whether the benefits outweigh the potential hazards. For example, miso is high in salt. It is also a soy product, which is a topic of controversy.  Once touted as the ideal protein source for vegetarians (as mentioned above), more and more researchers are finding soy is not quite the miracle food we once thought. Unfermented soy has been linked to digestive problems, weak immune systems, PMS and allergies, to name just a few of the potential risks of consuming the vegan protein food. Fermented soy products, on the other hand, have been scientifically proven to have health benefits.

P.S. Take a look at the 5 veggies that boost female metabolism and burn off lower belly fat.

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