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Types of miso paste - which to use?

There are thousands of different types of miso paste. So which to use? The different types can be overwhelming for those unfamiliar with miso.

In fact, there are so many types that there are even different ways of classifying miso paste, according to:

The color of miso

For those concerned about the health benefits of miso, it is probably good enough to know about three main types of miso classified according to age and colour:

In the macrobiotic classification of foods according to yin and yang, light miso is considered more yin / expanding while dark miso is more yang / contracting. Brown miso is somewhat in between. Light and brown miso are therefore more suitable for people living in the tropics, while dark miso suits those living in colder climates.

Dark, hatcho miso has strong medicinal quality and is often recommended for cancer patients and others who are weak from serious illness. However, those living in the tropics should still use this miso paste sparingly.

Commercial vs traditional miso

If you care about health, another important differentiation would be between commercial, mass-produced miso (sold in supermarkets) and healthier, more natural versions (sold in health stores).

Of course, this is not to say all supermarket miso is "bad" or unhealthy. I have ever bought good quality organic miso from the supermarket and it cost significantly less than equivalent quality miso paste sold in health stores.

But unless you can read Japanese food labels or your supermarket provides good, proper translation, do not use commercial miso from Japanese supermarkets. Many of these are of poor quality and they often contain plenty of MSG (monosodium glutamate). Your best bet would be to buy miso from health stores.

Look for miso that are:

Click here to read more about the health benefits of miso paste and how to make miso soup.

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