The Health and Anti-Aging Power of Miso Soup

Miso is a soy paste that is created by inoculating trays of rice with the vitamin B12 synthesizing fungus, Aspergillus oryzae, then mixing in a ground preparation of cooked soybeans and salt, and letting the mixture ferment for several days before grinding it into a paste with a nut butter consistency. Because it is fermented with a B12-synthesizing bacteria, miso has been commonly recommended as a B12 source for vegans. Miso is quite high in sodium (1 ounce contains 52% of the recommended daily value for sodium), but a little miso goes a long way towards providing your daily needs for the trace minerals zinc, manganese, and copper. In addition, a single tablespoon of miso contains 2 grams of protein for just 25 calories. An impressive nutrient profile for a flavoring agent! Use miso in your cooking instead of plain old salt and reap a variety of benefits in addition to enhanced flavor.

This chart graphically details the %DV that a serving of Miso provides for each of the nutrients of which it is a good, very good, or excellent source according to our Food Rating System. Additional information about the amount of these nutrients provided by Miso can be found in the Food Rating System Chart. A link that takes you to the In-Depth Nutritional Profile for Miso, featuring information over 80 nutrients, can be found under the Food Rating System Chart.

Miso’s Minerals Support Immune Function, Energy Production, Bones and Blood Vessels

If one mineral were awarded first prize for its beneficial effects on immune function, it would be zinc. A cofactor in a wide variety of enzymatic reactions, zinc is critial to immune function and wound healing.

Copper and manganese, two other enzyme cofactors, are essential components of the enzyme, superoxide dismutase, which is important in energy production and antioxidant defenses. Copper is also necessary for the activity of lysyl oxidase, an enzyme involved in cross-linking collagen and elastin, both of which provide the ground substance and flexibility in blood vessels, bones and joints.Iron is primarily used as part of hemoglobin, the molecule responsible for transporting and releasing oxygen throughout the body. But hemoglobin synthesis also relies on copper. Without copper, iron cannot be properly utilized in red blood cells. Fortunately, Mother Nature supplies both minerals in miso.

Protection Against Breast Cancer

The incidence of breast cancer in first-generation Japanese migrants to Hawaii is about 60 percent of the rate in subsequent generations of Japanese born in Hawaii. Researchers thought this might have something to do with the fact that, in Japan, consumption of soy foods is about five times or more what it is among Japanese migrants to Hawaii. Researchers at the Departments of Nutrition Sciences and Biostatistics/Biomathematics, University of Alabama at Birmingham, theorized that miso, natto, soy sauce, and other traditionally fermented soybean foods might contribute to their lower incidence of disease. To test this hypothesis, the scientists initiated feeding trials with laboratory animals and found that feeding them miso delayed the appearance of induced breast cancer compared with animals on the control diet. The miso-supplemented animals showed a trend toward a lower number of cancers per animal, a trend toward a higher number of benign tumors per animal, and a trend toward a lower growth rate of cancers compared with controls. The researchers concluded, “This data suggest that miso consumption may be a factor producing a lower breast cancer incidence in Japanese women. Organic compounds found in fermented soybean-based foods may exert a chemoprotective effect.”

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