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Why Miso is the Probiotic Powerhouse Your Fridge Needs

In the world of Japanese cuisine, miso holds its rightful place as a flavourful and nutritious staple. This ancient superfood, known for its rich umami taste, has been a culinary cornerstone in Japan for centuries – and for good reason. Let’s find out how this delicious ferment earned its rightful place on the superfood board.

Made from fermented soybeans and rice, miso boasts an impressive nutritional profile that has captured the attention of health-conscious individuals worldwide. Beyond its delightful flavour, miso offers a plethora of health benefits, supported by scientific research. Let's explore the wonders of miso and uncover the reasons why this traditional Japanese condiment has become a nutritional superstar.

Nutrient-Rich Powerhouse

Miso is brimming with essential nutrients that contribute to overall well-being. It is a complete protein source, providing all nine essential amino acids required for cell repair and growth. Additionally, miso is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins (such as B2, B3 and B6), manganese, copper and zinc, which play vital roles in a number of bodily functions. For starters, Vitamin B6 is involved in the production of immune cells and antibodies, contributing to a robust immune response. Adequate vitamin B6 levels support the body's ability to defend against infections and maintain optimal immune function. We also know that zinc is vital for a healthy immune system, as it’s involved in the development and functioning of immune cells, including white blood cells, which help the body fight off infections and illnesses. Research suggests that zinc supplementation can reduce the duration and severity of common cold symptoms, with a review finding that zinc supplementation significantly reduced the duration and severity of the common cold in both children and adults. So it’s not just the probiotic content of miso that make it so powerful!

Digestive Health Support

Fermented foods like miso are known for their positive impact on gut health. The fermentation process involved in miso production results in the presence of beneficial probiotics, such as lactobacillus, which aid in maintaining a healthy gut microbiome. These probiotics promote better digestion, nutrient absorption, and a strengthened immune system. Lactobacillus strains are crucial for maintaining a healthy balance of gut microbiota. They help in the breakdown of complex carbohydrates, supporting digestion and nutrient absorption. Lactobacillus bacteria also produce lactic acid, which helps create a favourable environment for beneficial bacteria and inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria in the gut. 

Cardiovascular Health Booster

Several studies have shown that consuming miso may have a positive effect on heart health. The presence of isoflavones in soy-based miso has been associated with reduced blood pressure levels, improved cholesterol profiles, and decreased risk factors for cardiovascular diseases. The high antioxidant content in miso also contributes to heart-protective benefits.

Cancer-Fighting Potential

Miso contains potent antioxidants like flavonoids and phenolic compounds, which help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body. Some research suggests that the consumption of miso may have a protective effect against certain types of cancer, including breast and colon cancers. However, more studies are needed to establish a definitive link.

Bone Health Support

Miso's mineral-rich composition, especially its high calcium and magnesium content, contributes to bone health. These minerals are essential for maintaining bone density and preventing conditions like osteoporosis.

Aids in Weight Management

Miso's protein and fibre contribute to a feeling of fullness, helping to curb excessive hunger and reduce cravings for sugary foods that promote visceral fat. A simple way to make a filling meal is by combining miso paste with a bit of butter, some tofu, seaweed and noodles for a rich ramen that leaves you satisfied. 

The specific probiotics present in miso can vary depending on the fermentation process and ingredients used. Here are some of the common probiotics found in miso and their potential benefits:

  1. Lactobacillus plantarum: This probiotic strain is known for its ability to support gut health by promoting the balance of beneficial bacteria in the intestines. L. plantarum can help improve digestion, reduce inflammation, and enhance the immune system.
  2. Lactobacillus acidophilus: Another essential probiotic found in miso, L. acidophilus, plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy gut microbiome. It aids in the breakdown of food and the absorption of nutrients while supporting the body's immune response.
  3. Bifidobacterium: Different species of Bifidobacterium are often present in miso, including B. bifidum and B. longum. Bifidobacterium strains are known for their ability to promote a healthy gut environment, support immune function, and improve gastrointestinal health.
  4. Lactobacillus casei: L. casei is a probiotic that may help alleviate gastrointestinal discomfort, promote regular bowel movements, and strengthen the intestinal barrier, reducing the risk of leaky gut syndrome.
  5. Lactobacillus rhamnosus: This probiotic strain has been associated with various health benefits, including supporting a balanced gut microbiome, enhancing immune function, and aiding in the management of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms.
  6. Streptococcus thermophilus: S. thermophilus is a probiotic that assists in the fermentation process of miso. While its health benefits are not as extensively studied as other probiotics, it is considered safe and may contribute to overall gut health.

The probiotics present in miso offer several benefits for gut health and overall well-being:

Gut Microbiome Balance: Miso's probiotics help maintain a diverse and balanced gut microbiome, which is essential for optimal digestion and nutrient absorption.

Improved Digestion: Probiotics aid in the breakdown of food and the production of enzymes, supporting smoother digestion and reducing digestive discomfort.

Enhanced Immune Function: A healthy gut plays a vital role in supporting the immune system, and miso's probiotics contribute to this by promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria.

Reduction of Inflammation: Some probiotics in miso may help reduce inflammation in the gut, potentially benefiting individuals with conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Protection Against Pathogens: The presence of beneficial probiotics in the gut can create a barrier against harmful bacteria, helping to prevent infections and maintain gut health.

Note: While miso is a source of probiotics, the concentration of live bacteria in store-bought miso may vary due to factors like heat treatment during packaging. For the most potent probiotic benefits, consider making homemade miso or consuming other naturally fermented foods with live cultures. As with any dietary change or supplement, it's best to consult with a healthcare professional to ensure that incorporating miso and its probiotics aligns with your individual health needs. We love making miso at home to maximise probiotic content – in our Gut Rebalance Program, you can enjoy an easy, delicious recipe for miso paste that is so cheap to make, but the health benefits are priceless!

Keen to experiment with your miso? Why not try using it as an umami addition to a classic dessert? We’re all about mixing unexpected flavours, and that’s why we’ve created these miso brownies – take a look below for your free recipe.

Miso Fudgy Brownies

We add a savoury twist to classic chocolate brownies by incorporating miso into the batter. The umami notes complement the sweetness of chocolate, creating a perfect balance of flavours.


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup rice malt syrup
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (or chopped dark chocolate)
  • 2 tablespoons miso paste (preferably white or light miso)
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans, optional)


  1. Preheat your oven to 175°C or 350°F. Grease and line an 8x8-inch (20x20 cm) baking pan with parchment paper, leaving some overhang for easy removal.
  2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Add the rice malt syrup and chocolate chips, stirring continuously until the mixture is smooth and well combined.
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and let the mixture cool slightly. Stir in the miso paste until fully incorporated.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and vanilla extract until well combined.
  5. Slowly pour the chocolate-miso mixture into the egg mixture, stirring continuously to prevent the eggs from curdling.
  6. In a medium bowl, sift the all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and gently fold until just combined. Be careful not to overmix. If using nuts, fold them into the batter.
  7. Pour the brownie batter into the prepared baking pan, spreading it evenly.
  8. Bake the brownies in the preheated oven for approximately 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out with moist crumbs (not wet batter).
  9. Allow the brownies to cool completely in the pan before slicing into squares.

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