The Telegraph pick Miso Tasty’s brain’s about the benefits of miso as a superfood with founder Bonnie Chung and our in-house food scientist Malcolm Wilkes . Read the full article here:

“Spend a little while with your ear to the ground around trend-setting foodies, and you’ll almost certainly hear the word “miso” cropping up in conversation. The “new” superfood made from fermented soy beans has been a staple of the Japanese diet for centuries, sprinkled on food as a seasoning, but her in Blighty it’s only recently progressed from an ingredient seen twice a year, when you go for sushi and order as a soup before your main (miso soup isn’t actually considered a starter in Japan- but staying true to heritage has never been one of our strong points.) Over the past year, Waitrose alone has seen a 28pc increase in sales, while Google Trends reports interest in search terms related to miso have spiked 180pc in the last 12 months.

Why is everyone suddenly excited about this unassuming ingredient? Aside from the obvious (it’s a delicious way to lend flavour to dishes), miso fits with 2019’s big wellness trend : gut health. Being a fermented food, miso is full of live bacteria cultures, just like some yoghurts, so it could increase the amount of “good bacteria” within your microbiome. All sorts of postive health effects are said to follow from here.

Another useful aspect to miso is its ability to make you feel full, says food scientist Malcolm Wilkes, who works with Miso Tasty,a food brand which promotes the ingredient in the West. “There is a link between miso and the concept of satiety or satiation, which is this concept of feeling full. Nutritionists often say “people shouldn’t be eating potato crisps or biscuits, they should an apple”. The only problem, if you eat an apple when you’re hungry, is that you still feel hungry and you want to eat something else. In 2000 scientist discovered that there’s a glutamic acid receptor in the stomach which provides nervous reaction back through the brain which they think also helps to release enzymes into the stomach and starts to create a positive link back to satiety’

In short, the savoury taste of miso tricks the brain into thinking that it is consuming protein ( which is vitally important for growing muscle tissue”. In doing so, the brain thinks that the stomach is fuller than it actually is”. Of course, it’s far from a miracle cure to feeling satisfied, admits Wilkes – but that’s not to say it can’t help a little bit. “It’d be total bulls*** if I told you that going out drinking a miso soup makes you feel the exactly the same as eating a steak & kidney pie with chips. But when you are feeling hungry to the point of distraction, drinking miso soup has that effective of being quite soothing because it takes the edge off your appetite.” in this regard, he suggests it might be helpful for dieters, particularly those doing partaking in programmes which involve intermittent fasting, like the 5:2 diet.

With an ever-increasing appetite for vegan and vegetarian dieting, Wilkes hopes that miso will encourage even the most ardent carnivores to enjoy meat-free food and eat more healthily, by providing a familiar savoury taste to work as the foundation for meat-free dishes. In Japan the principle means of cooking isn’t roasting.If you go out there they don’t do ovens. It’s all boiling and steaming. In the UK, steaming or boiling stuff like potatoes and vegetables is considered to be  the lowest form of food eating semiotically, because it just generates fairly bland material. So a savoury centre for Japanese cooking over the ages has been miso.

If you go to your fridge and find a lot of leftover vegetables like cabbage or lettuce or onions, you can make a meal with miso. The food will be low in sugar,low in fat and low in calories. In fact it starts pushing you to consume more vegetables anyway because it acts as a savoury base around which everything else fits”. Of course, there are some downsides too. Even though you should only really use a spoonful at a time, a single serving contains a huge amount of salt, which can contribute to high blood pressure. Also, being made from soy, a lot of people may find they are allergic to it. Finally, it’s worth remembering that cooking miso will kill the bacteria in it, kissing goodbye to any positive gut health effect.

“Cooking it does reduce its live enzymes, so can reduce it’s full health benefits” explains Bonnie Chung, founder of Miso Tasty. We recommend enjoying miso raw or cooked gently. Stirring miso into dressings, dips and sauces is perfect, or if you are making a miso soup or stew, stirring it at the end of cooking rather than boiling its helps to preserve the flavour and health benefits too. Nonetheless, after cooking, miso is still a great source of protein so miso roasted vegetables is a great way to add protein to your vegetables in a light and vegan way”.

Still, it’s worth remembering that this simple seasoning is an everyday ingredient in Japan- and people there have the longest life expectancy of anyone in the world. It can’t be all done to eating fish, can it?

by Jack Rear – The Telegraph