Health benefits of natto – The Japanese diet is one that is highly-sought after. From eating an abundance of seafood to protein-laden tofu, their diet is varied and easily consumable by people of all ages.
The benefits of fresh sashimi, miso soup, and matcha green tea (and alike) have been studied over and over again and there is no denying they’re all forces to be reckoned with.
However, there is one food that has flown under the radar and yet offers a powerful punch of health benefits most people dream of: natto.
Natto is essentially fermented soy beans and is a staple in the Japanese diet. It’s often consumed as a breakfast food and is typically eaten on top with rice, mixed with soy sauce and mustard.
A distinct feature of natto is its smell: most would describe it as being similar to pungent cheese. However, its taste is described as being nutty and quite earthy. In short, it’s definitely an acquired taste.
Its superfood status is attributed to a number of reasons, most stemming from the natural enzyme, nattokinase, prevalent in soybeans. During the fermentation process, a bacterium called bacillus subtilis ferments the sugars within the beans, producing the enzyme in droves.
Studies show that consistently consuming this dish can aid and benefit various parts of the body.
1. Improves your gut health
One of the most common benefits of natto is that it is said to directly contribute to a healthier gut and thus better digestion.
The probiotics of natto acts as a defence mechanism against toxins and harmful bacteria entering your body. They also aid your body in being able to absorb nutrients more easily.
2. Improves cardiovascular health
The enzyme nattokinase is believed to help dissolve blood clots, an important way to keep your cardiovascular health in line.
It’s also believed to help reduce cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure.
3. Possibly improves longevity
As cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death around the world, natto is indirectly contributing to improving the longevity of people.
According to a 2018 study1, the concentrated natto consumption in Japan is believed to be a significant contributor to the relatively longer lifespan of the Japanese population. 1
4. May strengthen your immune system
Natto is a dish that is rich in probiotics of which contribute to a healthier gut. With a healthier gut comes the strength to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria, reduction in risk of infection, and faster recovery – all of which work together to strengthen your overall immune system.
With a stronger immune system, you will be able to lower your risk of many chronic diseases, including diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and heart disease.
5. Contributes to stronger bones
Alongside many probiotics, natto is also rich in nutrients which contribute to stronger bones.
For example, for every 100g of natto, you will receive 22% of your recommended daily intake (RDI) of calcium, the main mineral found in your bones.
Vitamin K2 is also essential for good bone health, and is available in abundance in natto. It is believed to play a role in assisting with active calcium absorption into bones.2
6. May assist in weight loss
As with most super foods, proper consumption alongside the recommended daily exercise limits will generally result in weight loss – and natto is no different.
It is believed that natto contains above average amounts of probiotics and fibre, both of which have historically played a role in preventing weight gain. Rather, they assist in optimizing the body’s ability to lose weight.
7. May improve brain health
When we’re constantly stressed, our brains are put into overdrive. With the probiotic-laden natto, it’s believed that regular consumption will lead to a reduction in stress levels, improved memory, a reduction in symptoms of anxiety and depression, and even feelings of obsessive compulsive disorder.3, 4
8. Improves sinus health
Nattokinase has also been shown by studies to shrink sinus blockage-causing nasal polyps and thin mucus.
This would greatly benefit those who suffer from chronic sinusitis. Chronic sinusitis is when you experience ongoing inflammation in your sinus from things such as allergies, bacteria, fungal infections, or even asthma.
Consuming nattokinase is believed to assist with improving the airflow for the individual, effectively helping them breathe easier.
Natto health benefits – In short
Natto is a Japanese health food that packs a punch when it comes to being benefit-laden. It’s full of probiotics and nutrients that may help with improving many aspects of your body’s health.
It can potentially assist with overall improvement of gut, cardiovascular, brain, immunity and sinus health, contribute to longer lasting bones, help you live longer, and even assist you on your weight loss journey.
If you’re looking to improve your quality of life, start introducing natto into your diet. Its smell and taste may startle you at the beginning, but if you start with small portions and gradually increase them, your body will start experiencing some great results.
If you want to get info about another amazing fermented dish from Korea this time, check out the health benefits of Kimchi.