- Food and Cooking
Miso, The Miracle Soup!
Miso is truly a miracle soup! It tastes good too!
If you’ve never had Miso soup, you are missing out on a Japanese/Chinese culinary delight. What’s more, Miso soup has been known for many years by master herbalists to have medicinal qualities and health benefits. In recent years scientific studies have proven the medicinal attributes of this soybean and grain, doubly-fermented food. Miso is known to remedy low sex drive, chemotherapy illness, allergies, chronic pain, lowered cholesterol, high blood pressure, tobacco complications, digestive problems and even some types of cancers. Best of all, Miso is a beautiful looking soup and tastes absolutely delicious!
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Miso is the delicious miracle soup of master herbalists!
The origins of Miso come from China through Chinese Buddhists who first cultivated this soy food. Along with the import of Buddhism into Japan, those same Chinese Monks also brought Miso with them. Today Japan regards Miso preparation as a fine art form! Miso is made in three typical ways. The first is the traditional method which unfortunately, is the most difficult to find yet has the most medicinal benefits. Here cleaned organic soybeans are mixed with “Koji” a grain that has been inoculated with Aspergillis culture, similar to sour dough traditions. These cultures have been handed down for centuries from family to family. Pure sea salt and the cleanest water is found and the enzymes in the Koji help to break the mix down as it is slow cooked. This version of Miso is unpasteurized and left to age in old, seasoned wood barrels. It is the closest you will find to true organic miso.
Naturally aged Miso is the second type where the Koji portion of the process is more automated and the enzymes are more homogenous and less wild than in the traditionally made Miso. Naturally aged Miso is a manufactured product and as such is made in a very uniform manner.
The last type of Miso, also the least medicinally beneficial but most abundant, is temperature controlled Miso. This Miso, just as many of the processed foods today, is made mainly for profit. Whereas traditionally made Miso needs at least a few months to age, temperature controlled Miso, with the aid of commercial yeasts and lactic acid, is done in a day or two! So do your best to first find traditionally made or at least Naturally Aged Miso!
Studies establishing the benefits of Miso fighting cancer are ongoing. One well known soy expert Seiichiro Yamamoto a PhD epidemiologist who works for the National Cancer Center Research Institute in Japan published the results of studying the diets of over twenty thousand women between the ages of forty and fifty-nine. The results showed that beneficial isoflavones in Miso resulted in lower breast cancer rates among woman who consumed soy and Miso regularly. Isoflavones are a naturally occurring plant hormone that has similar properties to estrogen. The results showed that the Asian women who consumed the least amount still had over two hundred and fifty times more isoflavones in their diet then women from the United States who had much higher breast cancer rates. Another study by the Japanese Kyowa Hakko Kogyo Company and The Gifu University Faculty of Agriculture found that daily consumption of Miso reduced cholesterol significantly even after only consuming the soup for three months! Yet another study by the University of Shizuoka in Japan identified antioxidants in Miso known to neutralize free radicals in the body, thereby countering the ill effects of air pollution, television monitor radiation, alcohol and other toxic chemicals in the modern industrial environment. The health benefits of Miso are seen by individuals that eat at least one cup a day.
Miso can be made at home and bought in restaurants. It is a popular beginning to many sushi dishes where it often includes seaweed! Miso can be made into: a salad spread, hummus, tofu cheese and even gravy! Over two thousand years of Oriental Buddhist tradition can’t be wrong! Do your body and your taste buds a favor, the next opportunity you find to try some, give Miso a chance! You will feel better and your healthy body will thank you!