Miso Is the Gut-Healthy Food Your Diet Is Missing — Here’s How to Eat It (Besides in Soup)

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Make the most out of multitasking miso and add a couple of tablespoons to your go-to pasta sauce.
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If your experience with miso has mainly consisted of slurping that tasty bowl of soup before you scoff down sushi, know that this Asian cuisine pantry staple can do so much more.

Multipurpose miso can add a boost of umami flavor to your favorite foods, from pasta to dessert (yeah, seriously!).

This fermented soybean paste packs a plethora of probiotics. "Aspergillus oryzae is the particular strain of probiotic [found in miso] that works symbiotically with our gut bacteria, helping further grow our 'good' strains while crowding out the 'bad' bacteria," Kylene Bogden, RDN, co-founder of FWDfuel Sports Nutrition and wellness advisor for Love Wellness, tells LIVESTRONG.com.

The fermentation process — which involves combining koji (a fungus), soybeans and salt — is what fosters these beneficial bacteria that can enhance your gut health, Bogden says.

Just keep in mind that, by its nature, miso is a high-sodium food, so when using miso in a recipe, you'll want to cut down on other sources of salt. And remember, a little goes a long way.

Tip

When buying miso, aim to avoid preservatives. “The goal should be to look for products that do not list much more than water, organic soybeans, rice, salt and koji,” Bogden says, adding that some varieties may contain seaweed or barley as well.

Find out how to use miso with these creative ways to serve the savory soybean paste that go beyond a bowl of soup. And if you don't yet have a container in your fridge, shop the best miso brands below.

Miso Brands We Love  

  • Hikari Organic White Miso Paste, ($10.95, Amazon.com)
  • Eden Foods Certified Organic Mugi Miso ($12.30, Amazon.com)
  • Miso Boom Organic Red Miso Paste ($13.18, Amazon.com)

1. Make a Marinade

Miso can make for a delicious, simple marinade for fish or chicken, Bogden says. Simply whisk miso with rice wine and a sprinkle of brown sugar, boil on low and let it cool before using it.

The winning combo of sweet and savory flavors will totally tickle your tastebuds.

  Recipes to Try  

2. Stir Up a Salad Dressing

Just one tablespoon of miso can spice up any humdrum homemade salad dressing. The soybean paste pairs especially well with ginger, lime and sesame or olive oil, Bogden says.

If you prefer a speck of sweetness to balance out the notes of umami, add a drop of agave or honey.

  Recipes to Try  

3. Serve as a Sandwich Topper

Spruce up your sandwiches with a spoonful of miso, which makes a fun replacement for common condiments. Just spread it on your sandwich like you would mayo, hummus or guacamole, Bogden says.

  Recipes to Try  

4. Blend Into Baked Goods

Miso's saltiness supplies sweets with a more complex, palate-pleasing flavor.

"For a savory twist, I often add 2 tablespoons to my favorite peanut butter or chocolate chip cookie recipe," Bogden says. Mixing miso into your batter also boosts your baked goods' nutritional profile thanks to the probiotic punch.

  Recipes to Try  

5. Pair With Pasta

Miso makes the perfect pairing for pasta, creating richer, deeper, full-bodied flavors in your sauce. Just add 2 tablespoons of white miso to your favorite pasta sauce and simmer for five to 10 minutes before serving, Bogden says.

  Recipes to Try