Last Modified on Mar 19, 2014
A highly purified enzyme, natto is considered one of today’s superfoods. The supplement is particularly effective for improving circulation and reducing swelling, but its uses do not stop there. The enzyme’s slimy texture and salty flavor are not necessarily attractive to everyone; however, its health benefits are.
What is Natto?
A traditional Japanese food, natto is made by fermenting soybeans – a combination that renders an assortment of healthful vegetable proteins. Traditionally called nattokinase, natto can be described in flavor as strong and pungent with a slimy texture. The supplement can also be likened in flavor to the salty bite of blue cheese and is typically eaten with rice.
While the food is considered highly nutritional, most describe it as having an acquired taste. Nonetheless, natto can be used as an effective health treatment and preventative. With its varied protein palette, the food delivers an assortment of nutrients good for treating a wide range of health conditions. As an enzyme, nattokinase is also effective at speeding up a number of biochemical reactions in the body, which renders better processing.
Health Benefits of Nattokinase
With its array of nutritional benefits, nattokinase is an effective treatment for a variety of conditions. Nattokinase is considered a fibrinolytic protease, which is an enzyme with a basic function of hydrolyzing proteins. This process breaks proteins into smaller, more absorbable and usable amino acids.
As such, natto also has the ability to break down the adhesive substance that makes arterial plaque sticky. This effect in itself functions in two ways – reducing the prevalence of blood clotting in the body and alleviating plaque buildup in the arteries.
Nattokinase also possesses a number of other health benefits. The enzyme has been shown to stabilize the gastrointestinal tract, aid in muscle pain and spasms, prevent heart attack and stroke, and decrease fibrocystic tissue. The nutrient can also be used to treat chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, endometriosis, varicose veins, peripheral heart disease and a number of other conditions.
The saying goes, “You are what you eat.” This sentiment is especially true when it comes to supplemental foods like natto – a nutrient filled superfood effective for treating a host of different conditions.
01/31/2010: Rob from Manhattan, New York: "would like to add Natto to the Remedies section.. Although a required taste, it would be a good addition to most diets.. Many Japanese eat it often for breakfast..
It has numerous health benefits, some proven....to name a few.. prevents osteoporosis, dissolves blood clots, high in vit K and protein, natural antibiotic...see Wiki for more info.
I believe it is usually better to add whole food sources of nutrients instead of the isolated compounds, since science is usually behind or incapable in measuring the complex array of interactions involved between nutrients & the body."Replies
03/20/2010: D1nonly from Camp Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan replies: "Rob,
I am very excited to see that you had already suggested adding Natto on here. From what I have read on the web about natto, it seems to be a 'superfood'(without the superfood price tag and easy for any one to make). I have lived in Japan for almost a year now. I have no qualms against the taste or smell, it just smells and tastes like what it is. I consumed natto every now and then until after doing some more reading up on it after searching for 'how to make natto'. I don't like the small styrofoam containers it comes in and also like to use organic materials.
So then, I made my first batch yesterday morning and so far it was successful. This means I will start eating it on a regular basis now and not just when I remember to purchase it. I am also experimenting with other legumes. Apparently the natto kin (japanese word for the strain that is used in fermenting the soy beans) can work with other beans as well as grains. That which makes natto so unacceptable to some people is what is actually good for you: the sticky, slimy stringiness of it all. That is where all the enzymes and vitamins are that make it so good for you. The Japanese have a saying for natto: "Let's eat natto once a day; Let's make natto once a month"
Natto freezes well, so you can make it in larger quantities, then freeze in smaller portions. Here is a saying about soybeans:"Meat grown in a field, without detriment of meat." Only 150 grams provide 21grams of dietary fiber. Soybeans are also recommended for those who are vegetarians for the vitamin B5 content.
Japanese have the highest longevity and I am sure that is not by happenstance. Lower amounts of red meat, large amounts of fish and vegetables. Research has also tied the incidence of osteoporosis to the amount of income households spend on natto. There is a direct correlation to households with more income spent on natto and lower incidence of osteoporosis.
I am making some changes to my diet to include natto on a regular basis. There are also some delicious recipes out there, which allow you to mask the slimy, stringiness of it: Natto in crepes, natto spaghetty, natty in salad, natto sandwhich...all you need to do is use your imagination.
It takes up to 280F and one hour to kill most natto bacteria-so you can even do some cooking with it and still get some of the goodness. Or you can just think about how healthy it is and all the goodness you are getting out if it and learn to appreciate it.
I know there are a lot of conditions, diseases, etc. out there that once you develop them, the cure for, or at least the ability to live with them, comes at a much larger price (not only in terms of money, but the toll they take on your body) than some stringy, slimy stickiness... natto is one of the many perfect examples of how nature has everything we need-we just need to use it!"
03/22/2010: Rob from Manhattan, New York replies: "thanks D1nonly! for this very thorough post...I too am put off by the styrofoam & wondered about making it...
will need to give it a try!"
11/10/2010: Mary from Sf Bay Area, Ca, Usa replies: "The natto I have seen in the US has had the Vitamin K removed deliberately so don't plan on getting any in natto that you purchase. Maybe it is separated out in order to sell the K by itself. Read up on whether K is present when you make your own. I don't know that answer."