For centuries miso soup has been used by folk healers in Japan to treat cancer, poor digestion, radiation sickness, low sexual desire, tobacco poisoning and some sorts of intestinal infections. Traditionally miso soup consists of dashi stock to which miso paste is added, while other ingredients such as seaweed, add up to health benefits of this magic food. Today there is a scientific evidence to back up the practice of Japanese ancient healers, and this is mostly attributed to miso paste, which is made from fermented soy. Medical research has shown that one bowl of miso soup a day considerably reduces the risk of breast cancer, but it also helps restore hormonal balance in women. Eating miso soup can improve the quality of skin, supplying it with the suppleness and freshness it needs. Miso soup can also prevent the occurrence of osteoporosis, allergies and tuberculosis while smokers are recommended to consume it to reduce the adverse effects of smoking.
Since it contains linoleic acid and lecithin that help dissolve cholesterol, miso soup is used in the prevention of arteriosclerosis, high blood pressure and heart disease. Rich in B vitamins, flavonoids and a selection of minerals (including calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron and sodium) it is guaranteed to boost the immune system. Miso paste contains lactobacilli and enzymes gained in the process of fermentation during its production which stimulate the production of gastric juices, digestion and better use of nutrients. Miso prevents gas and rotting of digestive products thus reducing the acidity of the body, but it is also known to be able to build itself into radioactive substances and eliminate them from the body by way of stools. Some advise the person should eat more than one bowl of miso soup a day but due to the high content of salt this is not recommended.
Miso soup is sold in Asian groceries and ethnic food aisle in the supermarkets or it can be made at home. One simple recipe involves slowly boiling a quart of water to which 2 teaspoons of dried wakame seaweed have been added. Wakame should be allowed to stir for 20 minutes after which it expands in size. Eight tablespoons of miso paste are added to the soup and left to simmer for 1-2 minutes, but it should not be boiled as this can destroy the properties of the nutrients it has. Chopped green onion can be used to garnish the soup and tofu and dried vegetables can be added to the soup before stirring in miso paste and cooked until soft.