Toss out the apple and try a daily bowl of miso soup to keep the doctor away. Besides its popularity as a delicious Japanese dish, miso soup is also heralded as a health booster and curative of various ills. The main ingredient of miso soup is, of course, miso---a fermented soy paste that contains 2 grams of protein and only 25 calories per tablespoon. This lends itself to a low-calorie, high-flavor soup that also provides daily minerals and is a key source of vitamin B12. There are many folk remedies incorporating miso soup, including cures for digestive troubles, radiation poisoning, infected wounds and reduced libido.
Miso soup can help people maintain their youthful appearances. Miso has linoleic acid, which keeps skin soft and reduces pigmentation. This and other fatty acids within miso also create high antioxidant activity, another factor that slows the aging process and firms up skin. Clinical studies from the John Hopkins University Medical School reveal that miso soup helps reduce the chronic pain that people may suffer as they age.
Dr. Hiro Watanabe, a Japanese cancer prevention researcher, held studies showing that miso reduces a woman's chance of developing breast cancer, and it can also protect against cancers attacking the lungs and colon. This is because miso contains isoflavones, chemicals that mimic some of the beneficial functions of the female hormone, estrogen, while blocking its cancer-causing side-effects.
Immune System Benefits
Miso possesses a high zinc content, and zinc is a mineral known for its contributions to the body's immune system. Copper and manganese, also found in miso, promote flexibility in the joints and higher oxygen flow throughout the body. Miso's variety of vitamins and minerals---including vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin B2 and fiber--makes it a huge contributor to overall nutritional balance.
Another common ingredient of miso soup is brown seaweed. Researchers at the Hokkaido University Graduate School of Fisheries Sciences in Japan have discovered that the brown pigment in this seaweed, known as fucoxanthin, stimulates fat oxidation and increases the metabolism. However, these studies have only been performed on animals so far. Still, miso soup is a low-fat, low-calorie meal, and is beneficial to any healthy diet.