Misled by Miso

Quick note: I refuse to acknowledge today as Washington’s birthday. First his actual birthday is February 22, which was also my parents’ wedding anniversary. And second, no matter where I worked I did not get the day off except for one very early job with the state of Pennsylvania. So as far as I’m concerned, today is a normal day.

Now on to today’s topic. Miso soup joined my diet years ago when I lived in Philadelphia. I first discovered it at a Japanese restaurant where I used to eat bento box lunches and had my first encounter with sushi. Then I learned of miso’s health benefits. No one quite knows why but the fermented soy paste seems to promote health. One of those discoveries was made by Tatsuichiro Akizuki, a doctor in Nagasaki whose hospital was near the site of the atomic bomb. He put the patients and staff on a diet consisting mostly of brown rice, miso soup, various kinds of seaweed. People became ill, but no one at his hospital died of radiation poisoning even though they were closer to ground zero than people at other hospitals, who did die from radiation poisoning.

Since then I’ve read of other health claims, which seem well summarized in Body Ecology.

Normally I order miso soup when I go for Sushi Friday, but sometimes I want more than just a once-a-week dose. In fact, I love it so much that but for the large quantity of sodium I would have some every day. With one eight-ounce cup supplying more than a third of a day’s sodium, I pace myself.

Miso-Cup from the grocery store provided a good alternative as I never did quite conquer the right combination of miso paste to water to vegetables for a homemade version. Miso-Cup has just soybeans, rice, salt, scallions, and seaweed, and it’s a snap to make – just add boiling water, and there’s soup.

About a year ago, I couldn’t find Miso-Cup at the local Stop & Shop any more. Looked in the health food section, looked in the soup aisle. It was nowhere to be found. I checked a different S&S, still nothing. So I started buying it at the health food store, where I discovered it cost less than it had at the grocery store.

Then one day I noticed S&S had another brand of powdered miso soup called Sushi Chef. I decided to try it and picked up a white miso and the stronger red miso (the picture is right but the text is for panko). The red version was OK, but I really liked the white miso because the flavor was closer to the more robust restaurant varieties. The little pieces of shiitake mushroom added a bit of variety, too.

I’ve bought both white and red a few more times, but they are more than twice the price of the Miso-Cup, so I saved them for special occasions. Normally I read food labels before I buy a product but in this case I saw miso and just assumed it would have the normal stuff. Then yesterday for whatever reason I looked at the ingredient list and discovered why they taste so good. The second ingredient is sugar! First white or red miso and then dextrose! Funny they don’t mention it in the ads. That’s the end of Sushi Chef brand. I decline miso soup that’s more sugar than seaweed and tofu.


One Response to “Misled by Miso”

  1. New Kid in Town « Lizr128′s Blog Says:

    […] the healthier brand of miso soup and initiated the sodium and sugar filled commercial brand. (“Misled by Miso“). I refuse to buy fish from the place because it smells like a bait bucket, the kind one […]

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