Natto - The Little Known Food with Big Benefits for Your Heart and Skin

Posted July 30, 2009. There have been 16 comments

Haven’t yet tried natto? Body Ecology will explain how this fermented soybean dish from Japan increases all-around wellness and youthfulness, and why you should incorporate it into your diet.

If you want beautiful skin, a healthy heart and strong bones, it’s time you try vitamin-rich natto.

Natto is a traditional Japanese dish made from soybeans fermented with Bacillus subtilis1 . Keep in mind that we do not recommend eating soybeans unless they are fermented.

The key element in natto is the fermentation of the soybeans, which make them easier to digest while increasing your body’s ability to absorb nutrients.

Fermented foods and drinks, such as natto, are the cornerstone of the Body Ecology Diet because they are a great source of probiotics.

Natto has a long history as a super food. It has a stringy consistency, strong smell and an acquired taste.

Primarily eaten as a breakfast staple in Japan for over 1,000 years, natto is a great source of protein and is low in calories. But it goes even further to enhance your inner and outer health.

Natto and Vitamin K

Unlike many foods that are only rich in Vitamin K1, natto is rich in both types of Vitamin K.

Vitamin K1 is found in green leafy vegetables and makes up about 90 per cent of the vitamin K in a typical Western diet. Vitamin K2 isn’t produced in plants, but by various types of bacteria. It makes up only about 10 per cent of Western vitamin K consumption2.

Natto increases the health and strength of your skin, heart and bones.

Here are some of the many health benefits of natto:

  • Natto is especially rich in vitamin K2, which could reduce bone loss in post-menopausal women by as much as 80 per cent3
  • Fermented soybeans such as natto contain Vitamin PQQ, which is very important for the skin.PQQ in human tissues is derived mainly from diet.4
  • Vitamin K is repeatedly shown to reduce blood clots by slowing arterial calcification, enhance liver function and encourage the flow of urine.
  • Vitamin K2 has a better bioavailability that K1. Studies show that this molecule remains in the body for a longer period and is more effective at lower doses, hence is much more bio-effective.5
  • Additionally, natto suppresses immune reactions.6
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Tips for Enjoying Natto

Eating natto as a food is far better than taking the supplement version, which is less potent and less effective. You can find it at Asian markets and some health food stores.

While fermented foods and drinks all have an acquired taste, natto may take more time to get used to than cultured vegetables or probiotic liquids. But the taste is definitely worth acquiring!

When you take the natto out of its package, pour it into a bowl and, using a fork, whip it about 50 times until it gets kind of foamy. In Japan, natto is commonly served over rice but instead, we recommend you add: plenty of cultured vegetables, mustard (made with apple cider vinegar), wheat free tamari, scallions and if you like, a little wasabi.

Even if you’ve experienced soy allergies, natto may not bother you. The fermentation process breaks down the difficult-to-digest proteins that many are sensitive to, rendering them unrecognizable as a problem food to your immune system!

Now that you know the vitality secret the Japanese have know for a thousand years, make fermented foods and drinks, like natto, part of YOUR diet today.

Sources:

  1. Madigan M, Martinko J (editors). (2005). Brock Biology of Microorganisms (11th ed.). Prentice Hall. ISBN 0-13-144329-1.
  2. Study strengthens Vitamin K1's heart benefits: http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/Study-strengthens-Vitamin-K1-s-heart-benefits
  3. Journal of Nutrition, May 2006 (Vol. 136, pp. 1323-1328): http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/More-evidence-for-natto-vitamin-K-bone-health-benefits
  4. T Kumazawa, K Sato, H Seno, A Ishii, O Suzuki (01 April 1995). "Levels of pyrroloquinoline quinone in various foods". Biochem. J. 307 (Pt 2): 331–333. PMID 7733865. http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=1136652. Retrieved on 2007-10-20.
  5. Vitamin K1 and K2: http://www.nattopharma.com/?c=VITAMIN%20K2&s=Vitamin%20K1%20and%20K2
  6. Kuniyasu Soda, Yoshihiko Kano, Takeshi Nakamura, Keizo Kasono, Masanobu Kawakami and Fumio Konishi (July 2005). "Spermine, a natural polyamine, suppresses LFA-1 expression on human lymphocyte". The Journal of Immunology. 175 (1): 237–45. PMID 15972654.

Post Categories: Fermented Foods Probiotics

16 Comments

  • My family loves natto. I whip the natto with chopsticks 100 stirs. It helps to occasionally change direction....puts more air into the natto. I add any seasoning that comes with the natto. Then add one egg yolk for each container of natto you use. Stir well. Pour over hot rice. I like to grate daikon, the long, white radish or grate yamaiimo and pour that over the natto. Add lemon or yuuzu juice, soy sauce, thinly sliced green onions. Store and use egg whites later for waffles, okonomiyaki, or add to omelette, etc. I make my own salad dressing with olive oil, rice vinegar, sugar or honey, ground sesame, soy sauce, ground onions. My family likes to pour a little of it over the natto dish!

    Posted on Aug 7 at 3:54 pm

  • I'm non-Asian and recently started eating natto for the health benefits. It's fine. Really, many cheeses, onions, smoked fish, peanut butter, and beer are all much more pungent and stronger tasting. Natto is a total non-event, contrary to so many testimonials on the internet.

    You can get a kind where the soybeans are chopped - this makes it look like rice krispie squares (instead of...vomit...much better!). Also, I don't stir it at all. It makes no difference nutritionally. I think the stirring thing is something Japanese children are taught and it just becomes part of their 'comfort food' experience. I eat it with mustard, soy sauce and green onions on top of rice. It's totally do-able.

    Posted on May 21 at 11:07 am

  • I've been eating natto since 2001. I whip it up with a pair of chopsticks for roughly a minute in its pack, pour it onto rice, add some reconstituted wakame, crack a raw egg on top stir and dig in. I enjoy it so much I lick the bowl clean at the end of the meal lol. It's not as nice without the raw egg. I also moisten it with a tablespoon or two of green tea or miso soup while I'm eating it and then drink the miso and tea afterwards. One of my favourite meals and definitely one of the yummiest. I love trying to kiss my husband afterwards too LOL! (He hates the smell lol)

    Posted on Apr 21 at 1:47 am

  • Can I have a few more details on making your own natto? Can you use a differnt bean? Can you use a different culture, the results being not natto but something different? I put a different culture into a jar of organic canned black beans and let it sit 24 hours. It tasts fine but a little different. Can I eat it?

    Posted on Apr 6 at 11:27 am

  • Probably my favourite food! I could eat this everyday...now to replace rice ...
    But I agree Kim chi and natto is great, also a raw egg mixed through is yummy and spring onion.

    Posted on Feb 20 at 10:37 pm

  • I visited Japan and got hooked on natto! I LOVE this stuff! The only thing you have too be careful of when looking for the right brand of natto at your local market is that many brands add MSG to it. Some also add barly and other add-ins which make it taste terrible! The natto brands that have msg and other stuff mixed in have a very sharp taste and spell. So get the kind without any of that junk!

    Posted on Feb 3 at 7:53 am

  • I'm intrigued by this nice article on natto and by the comments of others who seem to enjoy it. I prepare and consume a lot of fermented foods but I've never tasted natto but I sure will give it a try.

    If it is even half as nutritious as described, then it would be worth trying.

    Thanks for an inspiring Web site with well written articles.

    Posted on Jan 5 at 10:08 pm

  • I'm a 3rd-generation Japanese American and didn't begin eating natto until in my 40s. MY dad would eat it a lot w/ hot rice, green onioons & beer. Yum. Now I crave it if I don't eat regularly. Especially a good option in the summer, great w/ tofu, yellow mustard. Most recent recipe I've been using is to whip it up and mix w/ finely chopped raw okra, mountaint potatoe (yamaimo), green onion, radish srpouts, a little dashi no moto. Last for a couple of days and dee-licious!!!

    Posted on Oct 5 at 10:42 am

  • I love making Natto Fried Rice. I throw in Kale, mushrooms, quinoa, okra and of course eggs and rice, then the Natto. After it's all mixed up, put it on a plate and enjoy. It's amazeballs!!

    Posted on Sep 20 at 2:42 pm

  • natto and kimuchi is the best combi of all. every natto lover should try this. dont forget to include the sauce and the karashi along with it.

    Posted on Jul 19 at 4:58 pm

  • I'm currently in the middle of my first batch. Was easy to make. I just add some Trader Joes organic ketchup

    Posted on Mar 3 at 5:46 pm

  • I think I'm addicted to natto! I eat it almost every day and never get tired of it. It also goes perfectly with kimchi. The two make the ultimate combination.

    Posted on Nov 16 at 11:30 pm

  • I must admit that I dodn't like the taste, but I want the benefits; so what I've done is sprinkle a little of the sauce supplied, squeeze some lemon juice, add a forkful of sauerkraut (which also has Vitamin K2), and then add a teaspoon of honey or sugar. And then I can eat it.

    Posted on Nov 9 at 3:02 pm

  • Natto is easy to make, and delicious when you get used to it. To make you must steam or pressure cook soya beans until they are soft, and then ferment them by adding natto starter culture, and keeping for a few hours at around 40 centigrade in the plate warming drawer of your oven.

    As there are no Japanese grocers around here, is the only reasonable way to get a supply - and very very cheap !

    Posted on Jun 30 at 11:09 pm

  • Natto is absolutely delicious!!! One of my most favorite foods. Excellent in Miso soup, and with crunched up trader joes seaweed paper with chopped scallions and ponzu sauce...amazing snack.

    Posted on Apr 14 at 7:54 pm

  • I just found some at the Asian Market yesterday and had some today. The taste is not bad at all mixed with veggies-- pretty neutral I think. I will definately buy again! Always glad to have more protein and fermented food options in my diet =)

    Posted on Mar 11 at 10:35 am

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