Do you have a jar of miso paste floating around your cupboards that you’ve never got round to using? Well, there are plenty of health benefits to eating miso, so here’s why you should include it in your dishes more.
Miso paste can be extremely versatile, it can instantly transform a multitude of everyday dishes, plus you’ll reap the health benefits too.
Try adding a spoonful to your next spaghetti bolognese, or add an extra kick to your salad dressing. Not forgetting to enjoy it it’s most classic of forms, a quick and easy miso soup.
A complex flavour, this fermented food is quite simply a kitchen cupboard essential.
Nutritionist Cassandra Barnes shares the many health benefits that eating miso has.
Table of Contents
Building strong bones
Miso is a great natural source of vitamin K2, which helps calcium to be stored in our bones. Now, you may think you get plenty of vitamin K from green vegetables, but they contain vitamin K1, which is not thought to be as effective for this purpose – although it does have other important roles. Miso also provides the minerals manganese and phosphorus, which supports bone strength too.
Good for your gut
Eating foods that are good for our gut is beneficial for our overall health and choosing unpasteurised miso is a great choice for digestive health. Unpasteurised miso is good for the gut because it contains friendly bacteria, which helps you to absorb nutrients and helps you to fights bugs too. Don't kill off these bacteria by cooking them at high temperatures though, instead add them to the dishes as cooking comes to an end.
We’ve seen that unpasteurised miso – that contains natural ‘friendly’ bacteria – may support our gut and digestion. But our immune system may benefit from this effect too. This is because there are lots of immune cells and tissues found in and around the gut. The friendly bacteria in the gut are thought to help ‘train’ these immune cells to recognise which substances are safe and which are unsafe, and respond appropriately. Miso is also a good source of zinc and copper, which play important roles in immunity.
A source of protein for vegans/vegetarians
Clearspring’s Brown Rice Miso (RRP £4.49, www.clearspring.co.uk) can be a helpful source of protein – especially for vegans and vegetarians, who may be more likely to fall short in this nutrient. It’s worth noting that the protein in fermented forms of soya beans – such as that found in miso – can be more easily digested than unfermented forms such as tofu and other beans and pulses. So miso is worth including in your diet even if you feel you get lots of protein from these other sources.
The natural phytoestrogens found in soya foods may be beneficial for women’s health and hormone balance – especially from around the time of menopause onwards. The greatest benefits are linked with eating traditional fermented forms of soya such as miso – as Japanese women do – rather than unfermented forms such as tofu or soya milk.
Miso provides energy supporting B vitamins, manganese, copper and phosphorus. All of these nutrients play a role in converting the food we eat into energy.
We’ve seen that vitamin K2 in miso is good for our bones. But the same nutrient is helpful for our heart and blood vessels too. While it helps calcium to be stored in bones, it helps to prevent calcium being stored in the arteries where it could cause hardening and stiffening, helping to keep them flexible. Vitamin K1 as found in vegetables may not be as useful for this purpose as the vitamin K2 in miso.
Memory and brain health
Among the many nutrients in miso are B vitamins, zinc and copper. These all play various roles for the nervous system and brain. Miso also contains a nutrient called choline. Choline is not only vital for the nerve cells that make up our brain; it also helps to make a neurotransmitter called acetylcholine, which is vital for storing new memories.
Miso is rich in two important nutrients for our hair: zinc and copper. Zinc is essential for healthy hair growth and hair condition, and copper is one of the most important nutrients to maintain hair pigmentation and prevent those greys setting in!
Miso is a particularly good source of the minerals copper and manganese. Both have a role in our antioxidant defences, including helping to make one of our body’s most important antioxidants, called superoxide dismutase. For this reason, these nutrients help protect against disease and could even help keep us looking younger.[amazon box="B01H1KJCEG"] [amazon box="B01CUDB5E4"] [amazon box="B0043CBAT6"] [amazon box="B0069RUT1I"] [amazon box="B01CUDBDGY"] [amazon box="B00F9WNF7E"] [amazon box="B00KC3F2BC"] [amazon box="B006MVZ7M2"]