Eat at a Japanese restaurant and you will likely get a bowl of miso soup with your meal. This hot soup pairs a Japanese soup stock called dashi in which you dissolve miso, a fermented bean paste, with bits of tofu, chopped scallion and sometimes seaweed or kelp. Miso soup is a low-calorie food for most people, but it is high in sodium, so keep your portions small.
A 1-cup portion of miso soup contains 66 calories; this amount is not enough for a full meal in most cases even if you follow a calorie-restricted diet, although miso soup can be a course served as part of a lunch or dinner. This soup is low in fat -- 1 g per serving -- helping you to keep your fat intake to 20 to 35 percent of the calories in your daily meal plan. One serving of miso soup also contains 5 g of carbohydrates, 1 g of fiber and 2 g of protein.
One serving of miso soup has 4 g of sugar. That may not seem like a lot, but it contributes to the average daily consumption of 22.2 tsp. of sugar per day by Americans. Avoid ingesting more than 25 to 37.8 g of sugar per day to avoid gaining weight, developing heart disease and getting cavities.
Including miso soup in your diet may help you lose weight. The seaweed often used in miso soup caused a 5 to 10 percent weight loss in animal studies thanks to a compound in the seaweed called fucoxanthin that has an effect on abdominal fat. While more studies are needed to confirm that these findings will translate to fat-fighting in humans, researchers -- who presented their study findings at the 2006 American Chemical Society national meeting -- note that you would need to eat quite a bit of seaweed daily to cause effective weight loss from the seaweed.
Consider the health implications of including miso soup in your meal plan if you have a heart condition or high blood pressure. One serving of miso soup contains 630 mg of sodium, a substantial portion of the American Heart Association-recommended limit of 1,500 mg per day. While the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that healthy Americans may safely consume up to 2,300 mg of sodium per day, the American Heart Association recommends that everyone keep their intake to the lower amount.