Miso is a Japanese word that translates to “fermented beans.” It’s essentially soybean paste, which is made by fermenting soybeans with grains (such as rice, barley or buckwheat), salt, and koji, a type of yeast produced by a fungus called Aspergillus oryzae, some even call it “magical mold.” This is because when fermented to make koji, Aspergillus oryzae produces a number of enzymes that aid in digestion and support gut health. Miso can range in color—from white, yellow, red, to dark chocolate brown—depending on how long it’s fermented for, which can be anywhere from three months to three years. The general rule of thumb is the darker the miso, the richer and “fuller bodied” it is; it will be saltier and more savory. If a recipe calls for dark miso, you’ll want to use an hatcho or red miso. Russet in colour, this type is made from a higher proportion of soybeans, is fermented for up to three years, and is saltier and deeper in flavour. Its full flavour is best used in hearty dishes like stews and tomato sauces. Use with caution - its flavour can over-power other ingredients.
Health Benefits of Miso:
1- Miso contains a good amount of vitamins, minerals such as calcium, iron, zinc, B vitamins, vitamin K, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, and it also is a source of choline. (1,2,4,5)
2- Miso is considered to be sources of complete protein because they contain all the essential amino acids needed for human health. (4,5,6)
3- Miso is rich in soyasaponins, a type of antioxidant shown to reduce inflammation and lower cholesterol and blood glucose levels. Soyasaponins are also known for having anti-tumor effects and may protect against various forms of cancer. (1,2,6,7)
4- Miso's rich probiotic content may boost your immune system and help ward off infections, and it can help improve chronic conditions such as leaky gut, candida, and gut dysbiosis. (1,6,8,9)
5- Probiotic-rich foods such as miso may benefit brain health by helping improve memory and reducing symptoms of anxiety, stress, depression, autism and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). (1,2,5,10)
6- Miso is considered to be high in salt and should be consumed with the guidelines of no more than 6g per day in mind. (1,2,5,6)