You might roll your eyes at the word ‘superfood’ and think back to your dusty stock of spirulina, chlorophyll powder and flax seeds which you bought because the internet told you to, lying neglected at the back of your kitchen cupboard. But if you must incorporate one nutrient packed food into your day, make it miso. Miso paste has long been used in traditional Japanese and Chinese cultures. If you’re still uncertain about adding this to your inventory, one look at their skin is enough to convince you that these women know their stuff. The paste is usually made with soybeans which have been left to ferment for about 3 weeks to 3 years and a special mold called koji. Yum. Because it is so fermented, miso paste has a long list of health benefits that can do your body a world of good and keep you in top shape. Read on to know more and bring some umami in your life.
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1. Naturally High in Antioxidants
Unless you live in a hyperbaric cell, your skin is constantly exposed to dirt and pollution. These damaging factors lead to the formation of free radicals in your body which attach to healthy cells and cause them to deteriorate and age faster. Antioxidants on the other hand, move around like pacman, destroying free radicals lying in their path and keep you looking younger for longer. With each spoonful of miso soup, you might as well be drinking the elixir of youth.
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2. Packs a Solid Probiotic Punch
The magic of miso paste lies in the fermentation process. This process makes the paste naturally rich in probiotics, or ‘good bacteria’. Probiotics help break down food and clean the gut. A healthy gut means healthy skin, so gulp down that miso soup if you want clearer skin.
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3. A Complete Protein
Vegans rejoice! One of the greatest problems with a vegan diet is that the best sources of protein are usually found in animal products. So what’s a well intentioned plant eater to do? Buy a jar of miso at the soonest. Miso contains all the essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Eating miso everyday, could help you form a balanced diet without having to reach out for the supplements.
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4. An Important Source of Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is another nutrient most vegans and vegetarians are deficient it. While it’s most known for occurring in eggs and milk, miso paste also has a formidable concentration of vitamin B12. Considering B12 is responsible for normal brain functioning, faster metabolism and a vital component of DNA, there really is no conceivable reason for you to not include it in your diet.
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5. Keeps the Threat of Osteoporosis at Bay
As most people get 70% of their daily calcium requirement from dairy products, being a vegan can make osteoporosis a real concern. Miso paste however has about 233 mg of calcium and what’s more, it even helps your body absorb calcium and other minerals better. Taking the time to add miso to your recipes could keep your bones strong and fighting fit even at 90.
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6. Reduces the Risk of Cancer
Studies have shown that miso contains large quantities of phagocytes which are your body’s attack system against cancer cells. Miso is especially effective in reducing the risk of breast, colon, prostate and lung cancer. So sit back with your hot bowl of cancer-busting miso and let it take care of your health.
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7. Lowers ‘Bad’ Cholesterol
Our body produces two types of cholesterol; HDL and LDL. HDL is a type of cholesterol that clears your arteries and reduces the chances of you getting heart attacks and strokes. LDL however, is the nasty stuff which leads to plaque buildup and clogs your arteries. Over fifty studies have proven that fermented soy leads to higher concentrations of isoflavones which reduce lower blood cholesterol. As Coronary Heart Disease is a leading cause of death, you might want to rush to the grocery store and grab a jar of miso at the soonest.
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8. Reduces Blood Pressure
While high sodium foods like soy are typically avoided for people with high blood pressure, miso’s advantage is that it is fermented soy and therefore yields a whole different list of health benefits. Miso soup is shown to not just lower high blood pressure, but also to reduce the risk of it becoming high in the first place.
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9. Excellent Digestive Aid
If you often double up in pain, clutching your stomach and cursing your acidity problems, miso could be a lifesaver. Because of the fermentation process, miso has high concentrations of peptides, phosphoric acid and other organic acids which effectively acts as a buffer in your stomach and immediately provides you relief.
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10. It Instantly Upgrades Any Meal
Even if you’re not the best cook, adding a dash of miso to your recipes could instantly lift your tastebuds and take you on a trip to Japan. Japanese chefs often use miso in their recipes to add a fifth flavour profile, ‘umami’ to their dishes. Umami is also added by using MSG, but unlike MSG, miso won’t kill you in the long run.
So now you know why you should eat more miso, but how do you go about it? Luckily, miso lends itself easily to many dishes and you won’t have to go too out of your way to include it. You could add a dash of it to your soups, making them instantly heartier or in your vinaigrettes to boost your salads. If you’re vegan, you could blend it with some tofu and lemon juice and use it as a dairy-free alternative to sour cream. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll fearlessly dollop a spoon of miso in most of your recipes like a pro.