Miso soup is the source of health and vitality


Miso soup, pasta and fermented soy products have been used for centuries in the Far East in nutrition and are considered one of the healthiest of foods. They have been used as a folk remedy for indigestion, for the regulation of acids in the stomach, for the increase of libido, and for the control of intestinal infections.

Also, these soybean products are used in the therapy of malignant diseases. At the end of the twentieth century, studies have confirmed their reputation. Just a scoop of fermented paste of soybeans can help prevent various diseases, but also it helps in their treatment.


Ingredients in miso soup, with its unique process of double fermentation, make this product of soybean a powerful tool to cope with the most severe illnesses, especially if you make a quality miso paste. Macrobiotics has played an important role in popularizing this dish around the world.

Doctor Sinizichir Akizuki, who was the director of the department of internal medicine at the Hospital of St. Francis in Nagasaki during World War II, has treated patients for years suffering from the effects of radiation caused by the atomic bombing of Japanese cities in 1945. Patients and staff members were kept on a strict diet in which it was mandatory to eat a medicinal miso soup.

His patients, who were found in the immediate vicinity of the atomic bomb attack, never exhibited more serious consequences of radiation on them, unlike other people. Doctor Akizuki thought that miso soup was responsible for that.

In 1972, researchers found that miso paste contains a dipicolinic acid, an alkaloid that binds heavy metals - such as radioactive strontium - and promotes their excretion from the body. This finding confirmed the theory that Akizuki’s miso soup provides protection from the effects of radiation.

Even stronger evidence came in 1989, thanks to the research of Professor Akihiro Ito of the University Laboratory of atomic radioactivity in Hiroshima. A few years earlier, in April 1986, the world's nuclear disaster happened, the explosion at the nuclear plant in Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union. European countries imported large quantity of this spice from Japan to help feed the population and protect it from radiation- the most used was miso soup.

This prompted Professor Ita to conduct studies on how miso paste helps rats affected by radiation. One group of rats ate the food containing this ingredient while the other group did not. The rats who did not eat this ingredient had 100 to 200 percent higher risk of liver cancer than those ones who received miso.
What does research and studies show about this ingredient

Large, long-term human studies conducted in Japan in the sixties and seventies were the first to tell the researchers about the health benefits of miso. One of these studies, where 250.OOO men and women participated, showed that among those who daily ate miso soup were fewer cases of illness from cancer, heart and cerebrovascular diseases, liver cirrhosis and duodenal ulcer.

At the end of the eighties a team of medical researchers from Japan's Tohoku University found out that miso paste contains ethyl ester, a fatty acid that is formed in the fermentation process and acts as an antimutagen. Researchers found that ethyl ester in this ingredient occurs only during fermentation, and that small amounts of which are ingested through the miso soup can undo harmful effects of nicotine and mutagenic burnt flesh.

Another study on humans conducted by the University of Alabama at Birmingham compared the occurrence of breast cancer among the first generation of Japanese women who have immigrated to Hawaii with its frequency in the next generation. The study showed that the occurrence of cancer was 40 percent lower among the first-generation, which used miso soup regularly in their diet.

The theory of the researches is that a typical Japanese diet, which always contains miso soup, soy sauce and other foods from fermented soybeans, is largely responsible for the lower occurrence of cancer in the first generation.

Results of another study, which included more than 20,000 Japanese women, were published in June 2003. According to these results, the more miso soup and pasta are consumed, the more protection against breast cancer they provide.

The group which ate miso soup three times a day had 40% lower chances of developing a breast cancer. The conclusion of this study was that daily consumption of miso soup and isoflavones reduces the risk of breast cancer.

It stops the spreading of cancer cells. 

In the nineties a comprehensive research that included residents of Japan, China and Singapore proved that a miso paste was incredibly beneficial to health. It has been shown that people who consume it regularly have less chance of developing several types of cancer, including kidney cancer, uterine, ovarian and prostate cancer.

Scientists give credit to the herbal isoflavone genistein (a powerful anti-cancer agent), which can be found in the fermented products of soybean.

According to the article of the National Institute of Oncology and the research of The Children University Hospital in Heidelberg, genistein acts twofold against cancer cells. It reduces the ability of cancer cells to form new blood vessels (a process known as angiogenesis), and also attacks the cellular mechanism of reproduction. Without additional stocks of blood or the ability to create new cells, cancer cells are neutralized.

Genistein also inhibits the growth of cancer cells by activating genes associated with cancer.  For example, it slows down the activity of certain enzymes which are created by oncogenics, or genes that trigger the development of certain cancers.

Neutralizes the harmful effect of free radicals

Antioxidants, which are found in miso soup successfully neutralize harmful free radicals in the body and are very important in fighting diseases and signs of aging, they also strengthen the body. Air pollution, radiation originating from televisions and computers, drugs, alcohol, poor diet, chemicals, stress - all these things create free radicals, which attack the cell structure of the organism.

Namely, they lack an electron so they naturally steal it from healthy molecules, which creates even more free radicals in the body. Harmful results may be a degenerative disease, bacterial and viral infections, and accelerated aging.

It is very important that our body produces enough antioxidants to free up free radicals. Miso soup is also an excellent source of antioxidants, rich in vitamin E, as well as saponins - plant compounds like cholesterol, and melanoidins - a dark pigment which originates from a more mature miso.

In the study conducted by the University of Tokyo in which Japanese women participated - scientists have attributed antioxidant properties to miso’s dark pigment. A study in Japan's Shizuoka University identified daidzein and alpha-tocopherol as active antioxidants in miso.

Another Japanese study identified a powerful antioxidant substance in koji which is a component in miso. Other substances that are formed during the fermentation process also protect against damage which is caused by free radicals.

Basic miso soup recipe

Necessary ingredients:

  • water (4 cups)
  • miso paste (third of a cup)
  • 3 chopped leeks
  • seaweed (wakame, nori) - 1 tablespoon
  • tofu 200 grams (the softer the better and chopped into small cubes)
  • soy sauce
  • half a teaspoon of sesame oil (optional)
  • other vegetables - also of your choice
  • you can add mushrooms and shiitake.

How to prepare miso soup:

Allow the water to boil, and then first add seaweed, let it simmer for 5 minutes. It does not hurt that the seaweed is previously soaked for about ten minutes in a cup of cold water. Then reduce the temperature and slowly add the other listed ingredients. If you are planning to add a lot of vegetables, it is best to pre-cook them separately, it should not be longer than fifteen minutes, and at the end miso paste is added in this case. It is best that the water is not boiling when you add miso paste because it will lose its taste.

Try not to allow water to boil, then remove from the heat and the dish is ready. Now that you know how to make miso soup we recommend that you always serve it hot and add on top of a little chopped parsley leaves.

Why is miso soup recommend for women

Scientists believe that phytoestrogens and genistein that soy contains can be effective in the case of hormonal and non-hormonal cancer and that is why miso soup is recommended to most women.

Thanks to a similar molecular structure to human estrogens and phytoestrogens, they can act in two ways. They can block the effects of too much estrogen, alleviating certain symptoms, such as those associated with premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

In addition, when estrogen levels are low - such as in menopause - soy phytoestrogens bind to estrogen free receptors and help alleviate symptoms such as mood swings and hot flashes. The high levels of estrogen are also associated with breast, ovarian, uterine and cervical cancer. Since it blocks the absorption of estrogens, genistein and other isoflavones it can prevent the development of these hormone-induced cancers.

In the mid nineties, the National Institute of Oncology recommend miso and other ingredients of soy as a protection against breast cancer, as they contain isoflavones. In addition, soy foods and isoflavones improve brain function, stabilize blood sugar levels and protect against osteoarthritis.

Because of the huge interest in isoflavones a great number of genistein supplements appeared on the market. Still, miso soup and pasta are the best natural sources of these fatty acids.