The Health Benefits of Miso Soup: Japanese Chicken Soup

It might be argued that the best cure for the common cold is no mere medicine picked off the shelf at your local pharmacy, but chicken soup. Indeed, one cannot easily deny the subtle effects a healthy bowl of chicken soup has on our virus-laden bodies, and though it does not always manage to dispel the cold from our system, it certainly puts up a reasonable fight, at least for a short while.

But the fighting prowess and health benefits of chicken soup pale by comparison when placed side by side with a real contender, hailing from faraway Japan. Its name is Miso Soup, and its blend of simple ingredients contain a veritable shopping list of nutrients and health benefits that help to prevent one of the most deadly diseases waging war upon our bodies.

Breast cancer. Studies show that simply consuming one bowl of miso soup per day, as most residents of Japan do, can help cut the risk of breast cancer. This is attributed to the magic ingredient of fermented soy paste, used to make miso.

Some health advocates request that you eat more than one bowl per day, but an argument against that recommendation is that miso soup also contains high quantities of salt, and so consumption should be regulated.

Miso soup is also said to help regulate the hormone oestrogen in women, a hormone that can cause tumors to develop. Though research into this healthy characteristic of miso soup is still ongoing, there are still a bevy of other nutrients beneficial to humans.

Miso soup is rich with antioxidants and protective fatty acids, and a healthy dose of Vitamin E. It also boasts protein and Vitamin B12, and a nice selection of minerals to help boost the strength of your immune system.

The wakame seaweed added to miso soup also possesses its own nutrients, helping to lower blood pressure and reduce cholesterol. The combination of wakame and miso is also said to be an effective fighter against nicotine-related disorders.

Miso soup can be purchased in packets in the ethnic aisle of your local supermarket and at Asian groceries, but here is a simple recipe to make your own. It uses miso paste, which will stay fresh in the fridge for months, and can also be used in sauces.

Bring a quart of water to a slow boil, and add 2 teaspoons of dried wakame. This seaweed is usually sold already cut into cubes for the purposes of using in miso soup. Let the wakame simmer for about twenty minutes. You will notice it has expanded.

Then add about eight tablespoons of miso. The best way to do this is to push it through a strainer, to help evenly distribute it through the water. Otherwise you may need to cook it for too long, which can destroy some of the healthy benefits imparted by miso.

Allow the miso to distribute through the water for about 1-2 minutes (stir if you need to), and then it is ready. Garnish with chopped green onions if desired. You may want to add tofu or other vegetables; do this before adding the miso and allow the vegetables to soften until desired doneness.

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