Miso Magic: Probiotics & Benefits of this Ancient Ferment
Thursday, June 2nd, 2016
Why You Need to Eat Miso Daily
You’ve drank it with sushi.
Maybe you’ve even made the most outrageously tasty salad dressing with it.
And if you’re really wild, you’ve even made this culinary delight yourself.
I’m talkin’ bout miso magic. In all it’s lip-smackin’, nutrient-dense glory.
What is miso?
Miso is a traditional Japanese ferment made from soybeans and barley or rice malt, commonly consumed in stir fry or miso soup—is one of few ferments that is purely fungus. Its main benefits include the creation of novel enzymes and the ability to release essential nutrients. Additionally, it appears to possess prebiotic effects.
Miso is made with a yeast, Aspergillus oryzae, rice, and beans. After these things are combined, the ingredients convert starches to sugar and converts proteins into amino acids.
Miso, which translates to “fermented beans” in Japanese, has proven its nutritional worth for thousands of years in Asian culture, and has recently started to gain heightened recognition in the United States and beyond.
This particular fermented food has a long history, dating back thousands of years ago in Asia. Originally started in China, this ferment found its way to Japan as early as the 10th century B.C, at which time it gained immense popularity and became a standard piece of Asian cuisine.
At one point in miso’s complex history, people were able to develop a process that kept spores from Aspergillus molds pure and easily transferable. In implementing this process, word spread about the tasty and nutrient-packed wonder. Today, miso is a worldwide phenomenon!
Miso’s Nutritional Wonders
While soybeans have nutritional value on their own, many nutritional experts believe that when fermented into miso, the product is even healthier than stand-alone soy. Miso helps with the creation of enzymes, which boosts the supply of essential nutrients.
Despite its high-sodium reputation, miso does not negatively impact our cardiovascular system in the way that many other salty foods oftentimes do. In fact, quite the opposite is true! Recent studies show that Japanese adults who consume miso daily are actually at lower risk for cardiovascular-related issues.
Miso also helps the gastrointestinal system in numerous ways. Studies from the early 90s show that people who eat miso soup daily are less prone to stomach diseases, such as gastritis or varied ulcers. Genistein, an isoflavone found in miso, was found to be a strong inhibitor in ridding the body of Helicobacter pylori—a main cause of these intestinal diseases.
Miso is not only beneficial to the cardiovascular system and in preventing cancer, but it also aids the digestive system and is high in vitamin K, which boosts overall bone health. The Aspergillus and other microorganisms in miso help metabolize proteins, carbs and fats—converting them into easily digestible molecules. The Bacillus bacteria found in miso helps to produce high levels of vitamin K, which are incredibly helpful in building strong bones and maintaining mineral density within the skeletal system.
Other benefits of miso are found in its numerous antioxidants. In addition to conventional and well-known antioxidants such as zinc or manganese, miso also contains phytonutrients such as ferulic, coumaric, and kojic acids. With proteins, dietary fibers, and copper, the body gains a myriad of nutrients with each sip.
Miso’s Anti-Cancer Research
Miso is thought to possess anti-cancer benefits. While anti-cancer claims are generally controversial (as with any food), studies have proved that the isoflavone genistein found in soy miso is associated with a decrease risk of cancer.
In 1980, the Japanese National Cancer Center did an epidemiological study that claimed those who ate miso soup daily were not only less likely to suffer from cancer, but also stomach issues and heart disease. Since then, countless studies have revealed similar research, linking anti-cancer benefits directly to intake of miso soup. While it remains controversial, there’s definitely no harm in soy miso; and its countless other benefits make it undoubtedly worthy of consumption.
Interestingly, the number of these benefits only increase through the fermentation process! Studies show that the amount of antioxidants in miso increases the longer time period miso is fermented, and that probiotics are only found in miso that has fermented for a minimum of six months! So, if you leave your miso out for six months or more, you’re likely to get a brown or red-tinted miso that is has elevated quality over premature white miso.
Facts About Miso:
- The miso saltiness mellows out over time. And by using more koji and less salt, your miso will be sweeter!
- Miso ferments are best when kept in a place where temperatures don’t fluctuate. Try keeping your miso in a root cellar or house with stable temperature.
- Miso can be stored for long periods of time, delivering nutrients and novel compounds from soy.
- There are many varieties of miso magic. The main forms include red, barley, and soybean.
Miso is packed with nutrients that aid digestion and is an inexpensive source of protein, probiotics, and minerals!
If you are looking for more information about healing IBS, allergies, autoimmune issues, and more with fermented foods, consider my Gut Rebuilding Program. On the website you’ll find free resources and videos (after you enter your name and email).