When the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki in World War II, 21 hospital workers were caring for 70 tuberculosis patients. Even though the hospital was only 1.4 kilometers from ground zero, NO ONE developed acute radiation poisoning.
How can that be? One of the doctors explained that everyone was protected by consuming daily cups of miso soup with wakame seaweed.
It’s not often a humble food like miso gets to be the hero. But scientific studies now confirm that miso does in fact preventradiation injury.
But that’s not all it does. Studies also prove that miso helps prevent many forms of cancer, including colon, liver, breast, lung and stomach.
Miso is fermented soy bean paste. It’s a traditional staple of many Asian diets. Soy beans are fermented with sea salt, koji (a mold starter), and sometimes rice, wheat, barley, oats or other grain.
The fermentation process creates compounds in miso that have amazing health properties. The resulting paste is rich in enzymes, vitamins, probiotics, minerals, and plant proteins.
The soy bean mixture can be fermented from three months to three years. The longer you ferment miso the more health benefits it has. Researchers have found that miso fermented for 180 days or more is the most beneficial.
One cup of miso supplies you with bone-building minerals like calcium, magnesium, manganese, and selenium.
And miso is alkaline. It can help us rebalance when we eat too many acidic foods like sugar and processed foods.
But the big reason miso benefits your bones is genistein. That’s a plant compound found in fermented soy. It’s better for building bones than prescription osteoporosis drugs. In an Italian animal study, genistein beat alendronate (Fosamax), raloxifene (Evista), and estrogen for building bone mineral density and strength.
Some people avoid miso because it’s very high in sodium. But researchers have now found that salty miso does not have the same effect as salt. In fact, studies show miso protects against high blood pressure.
Miso can vary from light yellow to a deep dark brown. Light-colored miso is usually fermented for a much shorter time than dark miso. Light miso is also milder in flavor than hearty dark miso.
My favorite brand is South River. Why? It's yummy and rich and comes in a glass jar. Eliminating plastic containers is important to me. I like their organic “Three-Year Barley Miso.” I find it at my local health food store but you can also order it online at: South River Miso Company
South River also makes miso with other beans besides soy. They have azuki and chickpea misos. You might want to try the chickpea version since garbanzos are great bone builders.
I use miso as bouillon, or in soups and stews. I also like to add it to root vegetable soup, sea vegetables, and dark leafy greens.
Here’s how to use miso to make a bone-boosting broth. The wakame, kale, and shitake mushrooms are all bone-friendly foods.
Prep Time: Approx. 5-10 minutes
Cooking Time: Approx. 10-15 minutes
4 cups water
1-2 inch strip of wakame cut into small pieces. (Or 1 tablespoon wakame flakes)
2 teaspoons organic miso paste
1 scallion finely chopped
2-3 shiitake mushrooms- thinly sliced
2-3 leaves of thinly sliced kale or collards (remove center rib)
Firm organic tofu(cubed) chicken or beans.
Bring water to low boil.
Add wakame, cook until tender about 3-4 minutes.
Reduce heat and add scallions, shitake mushrooms, cubed tofu (or beans) and greens
Cook for 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and add miso. Mix until miso is blended.
Note: miso cannot be added to boiling water as the good bacteria from fermentation will die off.
What’s your favorite way to use miso? Kindly leave a comment below and let me know.
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Hiromitsu Watanabe, Beneficial Biological Effects of Miso with Reference to Radiation Injury, Cancer and Hypertension, J Toxicol Pathol. 2013 June; 26(2): 91–103. doi: 10.1293/tox.26.91
A Bitto, B P Burnett, F Polito, H Marini, R M Levy, M A Armbruster, L Minutoli, V Di Stefano, N Irrera, S Antoci, R Granese, F Squadrito, D Altavilla. Effects of genistein aglycone in osteoporotic, ovariectomized rats: a comparison with alendronate, raloxifene and oestradiol. Br J Pharmacol. 2008 Nov;155(6):896-905. Epub 2008 Aug 11. PMID: 18695641