Miso - Tamari - Shoyu

Miso - Tamari - Shoyu


Who ever would think that fermented soybean paste pureed in hot water would not only taste so savory and satisfying, but also would contain multiple health benefits? The Japanese do, and have thought so for 2,500 years. Although miso was first discovered in China and later brought to Japan, it's so much a part of daily life in Japan that the average housewife has 365 different recipes for miso soup.


Clinical studies have shown miso to be beneficial in combating cancer. Estrogen-sensitive cancers, such as breast, ovarian and prostate, have been found to be especially responsive to protective Genistein, an isoflavone in miso. Recently the front page of the science section in The New York Times reported in many clinical studies that Genistein found in miso reduces malignant tumors. It reported that Japanese people have extremely low rates of reproductive cancers. Lung cancer rates are also minimal in Japan, even though Japanese men smoke incessantly. Could it be that zybilcolin, a substance in miso, expels toxins in the body such as nicotine, radiation and other pollutants? Scientists think yes.


Miso not only protects against cancer and detoxifies the blood, but also offers many other nutritional benefits.
Enzymes present in miso from the fermentation process hold powerful health benefits. These microorganisms act as "spark plugs" for the entire body, helping to break down and digest proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Digestive enzymes made from miso are marketed in Japan as supplements.

Lactic Acid Bacteria, necessary microflora that live in the digestive tract, are replenished by miso. Penicillin or other antibiotics destroy this friendly flora that is so vital to the digestive process. A cup of miso soup a day when on antibiotics restores the bacteria that is lost.

Hatcho miso, the darkest miso available, is excellent for detoxifying yeast and candida. If candida sufferers are willing to eliminate sugar, Hatcho miso provides relief. Other misos, lighter in color, actually "feed" the yeast because they have a sweeter taste. Hatcho miso cleanses the body and restores friendly microflora destroyed by years of antibiotics taken to "control" yeast infections.

Soybeans, the main ingredient in miso, contain 34 percent protein, 31 percent carbohydrate and 18 percent fat. Miso's protein content is 11 times higher than milk and nearly twice as much as in meat or fish. The fermentation process encourages the body's use of these nutrients.

The fermentation process also allows a superior absorption of calcium, phosphorus, iron and other minerals contained in miso.

Miso aids in preventing arteriosclerosis and high blood pressure. Linoleic acid and lecithin contained in miso dissolve cholesterol in the blood and soften the blood vessels.

For boosting stamina, miso is a powerful source of glucose.

Dense with minerals and other nutrients, miso richly nourishes the skin and hair and aids in the regeneration of cell and skin tissue. Ever notice the clear skin and thick, lustrous hair of Japanese women?

For weight loss, a cup of miso soup at breakfast encourages a boost in metabolism, as recommended by macrobiotics.
The soybean is helpful in eliminating symptoms of menopause. In fact, fermented soybeans are known to be particularly beneficial in reducing hot flashes. There is no word for "hot flash" in Japanese.

Keeping the blood alkaline is important for efficient calcium absorption. Acidic blood caused by the high phosphorus content of meat, sugar and soft drinks leeches calcium and other minerals from the bones in efforts to restore alkalinity. There are more deaths from osteoporosis in this country than cancers of the breast and uterus combined. A cup of miso soup on a daily basis is bone-protective.

Miso soup is one of the quickest ways to alkalinize the blood. After a night of overindulging in wine, a restorative swim in the ocean eliminates fatigue, headache and nausea. The salty ocean water alkalizes the system efficiently. A steamy cup of rich, salty miso soup garnished with an emerald green fragment of sea vegetable holds the same alkalizing benefits as the ocean it so poetically reflects.


Use unpasteurized organic miso

Transfer miso immediately from plastic containers to glass, enamel or wood. In the highly respected nutritionists' reference book, Healing with Whole Foods, Paul Pitchford points out that "miso has the ability to absorb toxins from plastic containers and should be transferred into glass for storage. The same holds true for other fermented foods and oils."

There are really varieties of miso, depending upon the region of Japan you purchase it from, like wine in France. Basically the American cook works with four to six types of miso, varying from light (chick-pea) to dark (soybean or Hatcho). The salty, dark misos are recommended in the winter. Lighter misos, sweeter and less salty, are used more in the spring and summer. Light and dark misos can be mixed.

Since miso is a live food, boiling destroys the beneficial enzymes. When making healing soups, add miso to preparations a minute or two before removing.


Miso is a versatile and inspiring food. The creative cook knows the gourmet flavoring of miso combines in an exciting way with many flavors. For example, nothing could be easier or taste more delicious than mixing sweet white miso with garlic and lemon juice to pour over fish or tofu, garnished with fresh dill. Miso is also used frequently for salad dressings combined with oil, herbs, mustard, vinegar, spices, etc.
For optimum health benefits, however, miso soup is best.


Vegetable soup with wakame or dulse weed
Bean vegetable soup: Cook leftover beans in vegetable soup until creamy
Leftover grains such as brown rice or millet
Squash soup: Puree squash and/or other sweet winter vegetables in soup
Noodle vegetable soup with udon noodles
Leftover steamed green vegetables such as broccoli or kale, chopped fine
Garnish soups with chopped scallions, grated ginger or chopped parsley


Serves 2
2-inch piece wakame sea vegetable
1 small onion
1 small carrot
2 ounces tofu
2 cups water
2 heaping teaspoons barley miso
Generous grating of fresh ginger
Minced scallions for garnish

Slice onion into strips. Cut the carrot into thin half-moons. Bring water to a boil and add carrots and onions. Cook for five minutes in a covered pot. Cut tofu into 1-inch cubes. Reconstitute wakame by soaking in a small amount of water for five minutes. When reconstituted, discard hard rib and chop into bite-sized pieces. Add tofu and wakame. Turn down to low. Puree miso in a little bowl using some broth from soup. Add pureed miso to the pot and simmer on low for 2 minutes. Garnish soup with a generous squeeze of freshly grated ginger juice and minced scallions.


Serves 1
2 tablespoons chopped scallions
2 teaspoons barley miso
1 cup of hot water

Puree scallions and miso. Gradually add hot water, stirring constantly. Drink immediately. Macrobiotic Home Remedies, by Michio Kushi, recommends miso-scallion drink for early stages of a cold or headache. It activates circulation and induces sweating.


Serves 4
1-1 1/2 cups finely minced fennel
3 large ears corn
4 cups filtered water or vegetable stock
2 cups filtered water
1/4 cup dulse sea vegetable
3/4 teaspoon barley miso per cup of water
5-6 pinches white pepper
1/2-3/4 teaspoon umeboshi vinegar

Remove corn from cobs. Place cobs in vegetable stock or filtered water. Bring to a boil and cook gently in a covered pot for 20 minutes. Discard cobs. Add an additional 2 cups of filtered water. Bring to a boil. Add fennel and simmer for 3 minutes. Add corn and dulse and Continue to cook gently for 6 minutes. Add umeboshi vinegar and pepper. Puree miso in broth liquid, and add to soup. Taste, adjust seasonings.


Serves 4
3 tablespoons organic, unroasted sesame tahini
1 tablespoon mellow white or sweet white miso
1-2 tablespoons finely minced scallions
2-3 teaspoons filtered water

Gradually blend miso and tahini in a small bowl. Stir in a small amount of water for a thinner mixture. Add minced scallions and blend. Delicious on bread with tempeh or tofu sandwiches.


Serves 2
2 salmon fillets
2 leeks, cleaned thoroughly, halved both horizontally and
vertically Juice of 2-3 large lemons
4-5 sprigs fresh cleaned dill
2-3 tablespoons sweet or mellow white miso
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
Mix miso, lemon juice and garlic in a suribachi, in a grinding motion. A suribachi and wooden pestle can be purchased at any good health food store. Line a stainless steel steamer basket with leeks. Lightly rinse salmon fillets in filtered water and place on bed of leeks. Pour sauce over salmon and leeks; sauce should be consistency of mayonnaise. Begin steaming by placing steamer containing fish and leeks in a large pot with a couple of inches of filtered water. Cover with lid and steam for 7 minutes. The last minute, remove lid and place dill over salmon. Cover and continue steaming for another minute.

Share this with your friends

Miso for Breast Cancer?

Women of the West, it may be time to follow the example of your Asian sisters: Eat more miso soup with its soy isoflavones if you want to reduce your breast-cancer risk. In Japan, where women on average consume 700 times more isoflavones than you do, thanks in part to miso soup, their breast cancer risk is just a fraction of yours.

This suggestion is based on a study by the National Cancer Center Research Institute in Tokyo, released last June. Of 21,000 middle-aged Japanese women studied across 10 years, only 179 developed breast cancer. Women who ate the most miso soup — 2-3 cups daily — along with other isoflavone-filled foods such as soybeans and tofu were least likely to suffer the disease.

But Japanese researchers would only say the study shows a "probable" link between soy/isoflavones and reduced breast cancer risk