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All about “Miso”, from fermented soybean

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Miso is a savory condiment made from fermented soybean paste. This food comes from Asia and is found in particular in Japanese miso soup. Its salty flavor enhances dishes and makes it possible to replace salt.

Characteristics of miso:

  • Low in calories;
  • Source of good quality protein;
  • Source of iron and zinc;
  • Source of group B vitamins;
  • Suitable for people wishing to lose weight.

What is miso?

Miso identity card

  • Type: Condiment;
  • Origin: Asia;
  • Season: All year round;
  • Color: Brown to white;
  • Flavor: Salty.

Characteristic of miso

Miso is a fermented soybean paste that varies in color from brown to white.

Word from the nutritionist

Miso is an excellent condiment to integrate into your kitchen. Being less salty than table salt or even soy sauce, we still pay attention to incorporate it in moderate quantities.

Nutritional values

For 100g of miso:

Nutrients                                                          Quantities                                                           
Protein 11.69 g
Fat 6.01 g
Carbohydrates 21.07 g
Water 43.02 g
Fibers 5.4g
Vitamin K 29.3 µg
Vitamin B9 19 µg
Sodium 3728 mg
Potassium 210 mg
Zinc 2.56 mg
Iron 2.49 mg

7 benefits of miso: why eat it?

  1. Proteins from soybeans are the only proteins of vegetable origin that adequately replace those of animal origins because they contain all the essential amino acids. They are considered to be of high biological value. However, since miso is often consumed in small quantities, the nutrients are present in negligible quantities.
  2. It is the fermentation process that produces enzymes that increase the bioavailability of nutrients. Proteins are partially hydrolyzed which increases their digestibility and their assimilation. This process also increases the amount of certain amino acids including methionine as well as the vitamins and minerals that are more concentrated there.
  3. Fermented foods like miso also contain probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria that provide beneficial effects to our digestive and immune systems. Intestinal bacteria play three main roles in the human body: they block the passage to foreign substances (pathogens, toxins, allergens), which reduces the risk of infection and disease. Then, they help in the digestion of food by transforming it and by producing new molecules (vitamins, enzymes, short chain fatty acids). Finally, they help the development of the immune system and the intestinal mucosa, which provides better protection.
  4. Miso is low in calories and fat and contains small amounts of protein. It is therefore suitable for people in a period of weight loss.
  5. It contains iron and zinc but it should be noted that the iron contained in miso (non-heme) is not absorbed as well by the body as the iron contained in food of animal origin. However, the absorption of iron from plants is favored if it is consumed with certain nutrients, such as vitamin C.
  6. Miso also contains vitamins from the B complex, which form a set of nutrients essential for energy metabolism, nervous, cardiovascular functions and the maintenance of general health.
  7. Soy contains phytoestrogens, such as genistein, daidzein and glycitein, molecules that look like estrogen, a female hormone synthesized by the human body. In the body, phytoestrogens and estrogens compete. These would therefore have the capacity to replace part of the estrogen. As estrogen contributes to the proliferation of certain types of cancer cells, phytoestrogens as long as they cause their destruction, thereby reducing the size of breast tumors. The risk of breast cancer would therefore be lower when women have higher levels of phytoestrogens in the blood. This effect has been noticed only in premenopausal women. In addition, studies that show a protective effect of soy on breast cancer have, for the majority, been carried out in Asian women who consume five times more phytoestrogens than North Americans and more soy in fermented form (tempeh, miso, natto). We must therefore be vigilant with regard to the results of these studies.

Choosing the right miso

It is found sold in an airtight bag or in bulk in plastic tubes or glass containers. When buying, check that the miso is unpasteurized because otherwise, all the benefits obtained by fermentation are destroyed.

The different forms

Here are the different types of miso:

  • “Shiro miso” or white miso: variety of “young” miso, made with white rice and which has a very mild, even sweet taste.
  • “Aka miso” or red miso: like white miso but with a slightly more pronounced taste and a darker color than this one. It is still mild to taste.
  • “Genmai miso” or brown rice miso: made with brown rice, it has a light nutty flavor and more character than white or red miso.
  • “Mugi miso” or barley miso: made from barley and sea salt. Discreet taste of terroir with a slight aroma. It is the traditional miso of Japan.
  • “Hatcho-Miso” or soy miso: made only from soy beans and sea salt. It is made with less water and less salt than other varieties of miso.

Keep well

It is kept away from air. If the miso is sweet, keep it in the fridge and if it is salted, it can be stored at room temperature. Refrigeration prevents the formation of mold, especially on misos that have not been pasteurized and that do not contain additives.

Miso preparation

How to cook it? How to match it?

Miso is mainly used as a condiment to enhance the flavor of food. It can therefore easily replace salt in recipes for soups and soups, sauces, broths, salad dressings, marinades, vegetables, tofu, seafood, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, etc. It does not need to be cooked. It is therefore added at the time closest to consumption.

As for miso with a sweeter taste, it is used more in pancakes, desserts, sweet sauces, etc.

In Japan, miso soup replaces morning coffee.

Side effects

Difficulty digesting

Fermentation also causes a decrease in phytates and antitrypsic factors, which can cause difficulty in digesting.

Interaction with thyroid medication

Finally, miso can interfere with the normal functioning of the thyroid gland or interfere with the assimilation of thyroid medication because it decreases the absorption of iodine. Soy products are therefore part of the “goitrogenic” food along with cruciferous vegetables, millet, cassava and peanuts. On the other hand, the latest studies have shown that soy produces goitrogenic effects only if the person is deficient in iodine. Therefore, individuals with goiter due to iodine deficiency should not consume soy and tofu products. People with hypothyroidism on medication should still avoid consuming soy when taking their medication. Also be aware that soy does not affect the thyroid gland of people with normal health.

History of food

Miso has its origins in Asia, particularly in Japan where it has been consumed for thousands of years. The word “miso” is Japanese and means a fermented dough made from soy beans. This paste, often salted, is mainly used as a condiment. There are different varieties around the world. In the manufacturing process, salt, a ferment (the Aspergillus Oryzae mushroom) and rice or barley are incorporated into the soybeans, depending on the desired texture. You can also add honey, sugar, sake, nuts, vegetables, spices, seaweed, etc. Fermentation takes place over a period of 3 months to 3 years. The more it ferments, the darker and more salty the miso will be. Conversely, a lighter miso will have less fermentation and will have a sweeter taste. There is also fast miso on the market, which has been fermented for only 3 days to 3 weeks. This method decreases the development of flavors and aromas in addition to also decreasing the shelf life. In addition, additives must be added to obtain a finished product resembling real miso. All these factors therefore decrease the nutritional value of rapid miso.

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