You may have never seen or heard of Natto. But chances are that many of the Japanese restaurants you have eaten in had it in stock. That’s because Japanese chefs love it. And real Japanese food connoisseurs know to ask for it even it’s not on the menu. A traditional food that goes back over 1,000 years, people often enjoy Natto with dashi sauce and mustard. It definitely has a long history of medicinal claims and uses.
At first whiff, Natto can be overpowering. A blue cheese-like odor that tickles the nasal package hints at just how powerful this fermented soybean product really is. In fact, scientific studies have shown that Natto is a superfood in a category of its own. While some people learn to love it, and even become a bit addicted to its powerful taste, others might want to give it a try just for various health benefits of natto.
Let’s break it down.
A Powerful Heart Medicine
Much of the medicinal power found in natto comes from a compound called nattokinase. An enzyme, nattokinase is produced as a by-product of the bacterium Bacillus subtilis, which is used to ferment steamed soybeans.
According to a recent Canadian-Chinese joint study, Natto’s traditional legendary attribute of being a powerful heart medicine is indeed based in fact. Researchers found that nattokinase was able to break down blood clots and thin the blood naturally. This allows it to reverse many of the conditions that lead to heart disease, like platelet aggregation and fibrosis. The researchers concluded that nattokinase improves blood circulation and decreases the risks of a variety of heart conditions without any side effects!
A Vitamin- and Mineral-Packed Superfood
Natto is chock full of important vitamins and mineral that many people are simply lacking with today’s modern diet of processed foods. While Natto is extremely high in common nutrients like calcium, magnesium and iron, as well as protein and Omega essential oils, it is also one of the highest natural sources of vitamin K2 ever found.
According to nutritional expert Dr. Axe, K2 is important for a wide variety of bodily functions including maintaining bone density in postmenopausal women suffering from osteoporosis. Vitamin K2 also helps prevent neurological problems and is good for the kidneys, which may be part of the reason that Natto is associated with longevity in Japan!
An Immune System Booster
Probiotic foods are gaining a reputation in the health community for their natural immune-stimulating properties. This is because they colonize the body with “good” health-promoting bacteria that actually help fight off bad, disease-causing ones. Natto seems to also have this quality at a very high level.
A study carried out in China found that mice that were fed Natto enjoyed an enhanced immune function. Specifically, they found that the natto raised Natural Killer (NK) cells of the mice to higher levels after 30 days of daily supplementation. NK cells are known to do everything from fight off viruses to attack and shrink cancer tumors. This shows that Natto may be an even more powerful natural medicine than anyone has imagined!
Will You Benefit from Adding Natto to Your Diet?
Quite honestly, Natto is a love it or hate it kind of affair. If you like strong smelly cheeses and are adventurous with food, Natto may be a perfect match. But don’t worry! Even if you don’t like the pungent taste, you can still get health benefits of natto without eating it. Natto and nattokinase are becoming so famous as a powerful health product that capsules and other forms of supplements are now available.