Daikon, Seaweed and Miso: Japanese Superfoods

Asian cultures are known for their good health and good nutritional habits.  We are going to explore 3 staple foods in the Japanese culture that are quite literally health superfoods.  They include Dailon, Seaweed and Miso.  Read on to find out the incredibly powerful health benefits of these delicious Japanese food staples.

Daikon

Daikon is a white radish.  It’s a natural diuretic and it cuts through fats, which is why the Japanese serve grated radish alongside tempura and other fried food dishes.  Daikon has a pungent flavor when raw, but becomes quite sweet and mild when cooked.  Daikon’s enzymes (diastase, amylase and esterase) aid digestion and detoxification.  Eating 2 tablespoons of daikon daily is a healthy choice, because we could be eating the best diet in the world, but unless we are able to break down and digest our food properly, we are not extracting all the nutrients we should be from our food, and we end up accumulating toxic waste inside our bodies.  Daikon is loaded with vitamin B6, making it a natural diuretic that flushes excess fluid from our body, fending off bloat and water weight.  For women who tend to gain water weight around the time of their monthly cycle, adding daikon is a delicious and natural way to help alleviate this.

Seaweed

Many people shy away from dishes that contain seaweed, because they are fearful of what it will taste like.  But, seaweed is actually quite tasty, and comes in many more varieties and flavors than most people imagine.  Their flavors are typically nutty and salty, and are great additions to salads, soups, vegetables and even as a snack all on their own.  There are many recipes available for using seaweed, and one of the easiest for the seaweed novice, is to use sheets of various seaweeds to wrap your favorite vegetables in.

Ocean water is rich in iodine, an essential trace mineral, that becomes concentrated in the cells of seaweed and other sea vegetables.  Many people don’t get enough iodine, and even a minor deficiency can trigger hypothyroid symptoms like chronic fatigue and weight gain.  One of the reasons why seaweed is so nourishing, is because of its natural iodine content.  It helps the body’s synthesis of the thyroid hormones T3 and T4, which regulate energy and metabolism.  Iodine isn’t the only health gem of eating seaweed though.  The ocean is brimming with minerals, and seaweed and other sea vegetables are constantly bathing and absorbing these extremely important minerals, which we also absorb when we consume these various seaweeds and vegetables.  They are chock-full of important minerals such as calcium (which revs fat burn), zinc (which boosts our immune system function) and phosphorus and iron (essential for energy), just to name a few.

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Miso

Miso is a natural antibiotic, giving our immune system a great big boost in our defense against pathogens (agent of disease / infectious organisms) and harmful bacteria and viruses.  Miso is high in protein, vitamins and minerals.  It is also very alkalizing to the blood, so it helps keep our body functions and chemistry in balance.  In addition to its wealth of vitamins and minerals, miso is also packed with healthful bacteria that are proven to lower one’s risk of contracting colds and other viral infections by 50% within just 2 weeks!  Friendly bacteria boost the body’s output of disease-fighting antibodies that ward of sickness, in addition to decreasing the severity of episodes of sickness when people do fall ill.  Regular consumption of healthful bacteria, such as that found in miso, is shown to cut incidence of fever by 72%, reduce cough by 68% and cut down on overall downtime due to illness by half.

To get the amazing benefits of miso, you’ll want to skip powdered miso.  This is because powdered miso has been pasteurized, which kills all the beneficial bacteria.  Instead, opt for unpasteurized, darker-colored miso, which is loaded with health-boosting bacteria, not to mention flavor.

Even if you’re not a fan of Japanese food, you can easily incorporate daikon, seaweed and miso into other cultural foods, including American.  Mix and match these Asian superfoods into various dishes, and with a little bit of experimenting, you’ll find some great flavor matches for your palate.

Bon Veggie Appetit!

Gina ‘The Veggie Goddess’ Matthews