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Miso Soup: A Protein Power House

Many of our customers have told us that our miso is surprisingly filling for such a dinky sized snack of a soup!

What’s our secret? Protein!

Miso has long been a source of protein for the Japanese. It’s mainly made from soy beans and grains that have been fermented. So while they are really easy to eat and digest, they create a unique sense of fullness and wellbeing without feeling bloated.

So what’s going on with the protein? In every 100g of miso there is a whopping 12g of protein. This is great since there are 8 essential amino acids that are termed ‘essential’ proteins and soy beans contain all 8 of them; miso is therefore known as sources of complete protein.

Here’s the science bit! The protein value of a food depends on both the quantity and quality of the protein, and miso is unusually high in both. Protein quality is a measure of the percentage by weight of the protein actually present in  a food.  The average of all miso varieties is about 12 – 13 percent, and certain types (like hatcho) contain a percentage of soybeans which exceeds 20%. These compare well with chicken (21%) and beef or cottage cheese (2-%) eggs (13%) and whole milk (3%)

Protein quality is a measure of the percentage of protein in a food that can actually be utilized by the body. This is usually expressed as NPU (Net Propetin Utilisation). This depends on the food’s digestability. Eggs have the highest quality protein with a measure of NPU of 94 – i.e. in 100g of it, 13g of protein, 94% of it can actually be utilized by the body.  Other animal foods that have high NPU include fish (80) and cottage cheese (75) and chicken (65) but in plants, it’s not that much lower, rice has NPU of 70, which is the highest quality protein of any basic plant food. Soybeans (NPU = 61) and barley (NPU = 60), are also pretty high.

What’s amazing is that miso has an NPU of 72, which is higher than the NPU of its constituent parts. This is because in the production of miso, rice or barley and soybeans are combined and they complement each other meaning that the NPU of the resultant combination is higher than that of either of the 8 essential amino acids, in a configuration which is highly utilisable by the human body. Furthermore, the process of fermentation makes the basic component foods more digestible and therefore increases their individual NPUs.

Red miso, contains 13.5% protein and has an NPU of 72, so 100 g of this product can supply us with 9.7g of usable protein – more than from an equal weight of hamburger (13% protein, NPU 67).

Can you believe that 25% of the protein intake of those who live inland in Japan, comes from miso?  i.e. where fresh fish is not easily available, miso is often the substitute protein.  So if you want to increase the protein in your diet or perhaps you want to add a new source of protein to your meals, then choose miso for a unique flavour that is so packed full of goodness, it’s almost a miracle! Enjoy!


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