What is miso?

Three ingredients—cooked soybeans, molded grain, and salt—are fermented to create miso, a traditional Japanese soybean paste. Fermentation specifically uses the mold Aspergillus oryzae. The Japanese alcoholic beverage sake and soy sauce are both produced using the same mold. To manufacture miso, a steamed grain—typically rice or barley—is combined with the mold, and the grain serves as nourishment for the fungi, promoting their growth and multiplication over a period of several days. Together, they make up a substance known as koji, which is Japanese for “fermentation starter.” The cooked soybeans are then mixed with the fermented grain, salt, and the mixture is then stored for several months to continue the fermentation process. The fermented combination will be mashed, packed, and sold when it is finished.

Miso comes in three basic varieties: rice miso (kome-miso), barley miso (mugi-miso), and soybean miso (mame-miso). In order to make soybean miso specifically, soybeans are fed to a fungus strain before being combined with salt and soybean malt. A fourth variety of miso, called awase miso, which combines the first three varieties, is also available in Japan. On the basis of their regional ingredients, climate, environment, and taste preferences, several regions of Japan also create locally distinctive miso that varies in color, flavor, and texture.

Miso has a variety of diverse flavor combinations, including salty, umami, bitter, sour, and sweet. The flavor characteristic of miso can range from mild (ama miso) to sweet (amakuchi miso) and strong (amakuchi miso), depending on how much salt and fermented grains are used (karakuchi miso). In addition, depending on the ingredients used, the fermentation and aging procedures, the color of miso can change from white to yellow to red. The miso gets darker the longer it is allowed to age.

Miso can be found in health food stores and local Asian or Japanese markets. It is preferable to keep miso in the refrigerator after opening the tub. Keep in mind that miso ages, resulting in a deeper color, the longer it is stored.

Why Miso Is Incredibly Healthy?

Miso is a fermented condiment that is particularly well-liked in regions of Asia, although it has also spread to the West.

Even while miso is still mostly unknown, those who are familiar with it have probably eaten it in Japanese miso soup. It is extremely nutrient-dense and associated with a number of health advantages, including as improved digestion and a stronger immune system.

Miso Nutrition Facts

Miso contains a good amount of vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds. One ounce generally provides you with:

  • Calories: 56

  • Carbs: 7 grams

  • Fat: 2 grams

  • Protein: 3 grams

  • Sodium: 43% of the RDI

  • Manganese: 12% of the RDI

  • Vitamin K: 10% of the RDI

  • Copper: 6% of the RDI

  • Zinc: 5% of the RDI

Potential Health Benefits of Miso


1. Reduced Risk of Cancer

According to one study, eating soybeans regularly was associated with a lower incidence of stomach cancer, especially among women. According to a different study, eating miso soup and other soy-based foods may lower your risk of developing the liver cancer hepatocellular carcinoma.

2. Strengthen your immune system

Miso may improve immune function and aid in the fight against infections because it is a rich source of probiotic microorganisms. Consuming fermented foods on a regular basis, such as miso, may help you fight infections with fewer antibiotics. To evaluate the advantages of various bacterial strains, including those most frequently found in miso, more research is nonetheless required.

3. Healthier Digestive System

Given that the digestive tract houses 70% of the immune system, maintaining gut health should be a top focus. Consuming fermented foods like miso may enhance digestion and lessen gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. According to research, the fungus in miso may also lower the risk of inflammatory bowel disease. Similar to other plant-based foods, soybeans contain antinutrients that may hinder the body’s capacity to absorb nutrients. To make soybeans simpler to digest, fermentation may, however, lessen the amount of antinutrients present in the food.


4. Reduced Risk of Heart Disease

Though the research is still in its early stages, there may be a connection between isoflavones, a class of chemical present in the soybeans used to produce miso, and a decreased risk of cardiac issues. According to one study, certain Japanese women who had higher levels of these isoflavones had a lower risk of heart attacks and strokes.

5. May support brain health

Recent developments in our understanding of gut-brain communication provide evidence for the importance of diet, particularly the consumption of fermented foods, in maintaining cognitive health, including the absence of anxiety and depression. There is still much to learn before we can pinpoint the bacterial strains that may be most useful, despite the fact that much has already been learnt.

How to Use Miso

Small amounts of miso can be used to marinate steak and skewers, glaze a grilled fish, season salads, and add flavor to stir-fries and noodle soups. Turkey can also be sautéed with our Orange Miso Sauce. Do you enjoy sweets? Miso can also be used to offer a unique umami-sweet flavor character to desserts, like our Miso Apple Bars.