Miso Soup: Is It Good for You?

Miso soup comes from Japan and is a common companion to sushi and rice dishes. In Japanese, “miso” means “fermented beans.”

Miso is made from soybeans, which are rich in protein and other important nutrients that contribute to a healthy diet. It is the primary ingredient in miso soup, along with additions that help make the soup more flavorful, like salt, green onions, dried kelp or seaweed, and tofu

Potential health benefits of miso soup are as follows:

Scientific research supports many of these health benefits, but additional research is required.

Nutrition Information

One serving of miso soup contains the following:

  • Calories: 40
  • Calories from fat: 14
  • Total fat: 2 grams
  • Saturated fat: 0 grams
  • Trans fat: 0 grams
  • Cholesterol: 0 grams
  • Sodium: 0.86 grams
  • Total carbohydrates: 3 grams
  • Dietary fiber: 0 grams
  • Sugars: 0 grams
  • Protein: 3 grams

Miso soup is also an excellent source of:

You can also find other nutrients in miso soup, including calcium, iron, B vitamins, and magnesium.

Potential Health Benefits of Miso Soup

Miso is a rich source of vitamins and minerals, as well as probiotics, known as the gut’s “good bacteria.” Research has found a number of potential health benefits to consuming miso: 

Healthier Digestive System

Miso soup is full of probiotics, which contribute to improved gut health. Miso soup contains the probiotic A. oryzae, which can reduce the risk of inflammatory bowel disease and other problems with the digestive system.

Reduced Risk of Heart Disease

There may be a link between isoflavones, a type of chemical found in the soybeans used to make miso, and lowered risk of heart problems, though the research is still preliminary. One study showed that higher levels of these isoflavones correlated with lower risk of strokes and heart attacks in some Japanese women.

Reduced Risk of Cancer

One study showed that regular consumption of soybeans was correlated with a lower risk of stomach cancer, particularly among women.

Another study showed that consuming miso soup and other foods with soy may reduce the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma, a liver cancer.

Easing of Menopause Symptoms

Isoflavones also provide a range of health benefits, including the alleviation of hot flashes in women going through menopause. In addition, isoflavones can improve arterial health in these women. 

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Potential Risks of Miso Soup

Although miso soup has many health benefits and is a low-calorie, low-fat dish, there are a few potential risks:

Excess Salt Intake

Many preparers of miso soup add a good deal of salt. Eating too much salt can increase your risk of health problems, including heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure.

Instead of loading your miso soup with lots of salt for flavor, enjoy the dish with healthier additives like vegetables and seaweed.

Thyroid Dysfunction

Another thing to be aware of is that soy products are goitrogens, which means they can affect how well your thyroid operates. However, when consumed in moderation, goitrogens are generally safe.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on October 13, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon: “Miso Soup.”

FoodData Central: “Soybean soup, miso broth.”

Nutrients: “Soy and Health Update: Evaluation of the Clinical and Epidemiologic Literature.”

Gastroenterology: “Tu2021 Anti-Inflammatory Effect of Novel Probiotic Yeasts Isolated From Japanese “Miso” on DSS-Induced Colitis.”

Circulation: Association of dietary intake of soy, beans, and isoflavones with risk of cerebral and myocardial infarctions in Japanese populations: the Japan Public Health Center-based (JPHC) study cohort I.”

American Journal of Epidemiology: “Intake of soy products and other foods and gastric cancer risk: a prospective study.”

International Journal of Cancer: Relationship of hepatocellular carcinoma to soya food consumption: a cohort-based, case-control study in Japan.”

State of Rhode Island Department of Health: “Salt (Sodium).”

Thyroid: “Risk factors for goiter and thyroid nodules.”

World’s Healthiest Foods: “What is miso and is there more than one type of miso?”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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