Natto is a traditional Japanese food. It’s fermented soybeans that are rich in vegetable protein. Typically eaten with rice, natto has a mild cheese-like flavor and smell, and can be an acquired taste. It has a sort of sticky paste on its surface and once it is stirred, the paste increases its volume becoming even stickier. You will find that the paste pulls apart in such a way that resembles a web. This is another characteristic that sometimes turns people off. Still, the benefits make it worth exploring, and according to The New York Times, it’s catching on. If you’re the adventurous type or enjoy uncommon textures in your food, definitely try Natto! You can even make it yourself (video) if you want.
Natto’s Health Benefits:
“Natto is the only form of fermented soy that utilizes the bacillus natto species. The byproduct of this fermentation is the powerful proteolytic enzyme, nattokinase. This enzyme is known to be a very strong fibrinolytic (anti-clotting), anti-inflammatory and blood thinner. It is comparative to aspirin without the dangerous side effects. Additionally, nattokinase has been shown effective in destroying the toxic amyloid fibrils associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Japanese researcher Dr. Hiroyuki Sumi tested many traditional Japanese foods looking for a natural thrombolytic agent that could break down blood clots and arterial plaque. After testing more than 173 natural foods, Sumi found what he was looking for in 1980 with nattokinase. He dropped natto into an artificial thrombus in a petri dish and allowed it to sit at body temperature. Over the next 18 hours, the plaque completely dissolved. Dr. Sumi isolated the active enzyme and named it nattokinase.
Nattokinase works so effectively because it dissolves existing blood clots & fibrin while enhancing the body’s production of plasmin and other fibrinolytic agents like urokinase. Researchers agree that nattokinase is 4 times as potent as plasmin and is significantly better than any prescription medication. It works for longer periods of time without any of the dangerous side effects associated with pharmaceuticals.
Organic natto is also one of the best forms of vitamin K2, which is very important for binding calcium in proteins. K2 is especially important for both bone and cardiovascular health. Vitamin K1 is easier to come by as it can be found in seaweed & dark green leafy veggies. Vitamin K2 is found in fermented foods such as raw cheese, miso, & Natto. Vitamin K2 activates a key hormone called osteocalcin that is produced by osteoblasts. This hormone is needed to bind calcium into the bone matrix. Osteocalcin also prevents calcium from being deposited into the arteries. Without adequate vitamin K2 an individual cannot effectively get calcium into the bone matrix and will instead deposit it into arterial endothelium creating plaque deposits.” Dr. David Jockers
How Do I Eat It?
Natto is commonly found in Asian markets, either in the frozen food section, or in small plastic packages with soy sauce and mustard. The most popular way to prepare natto is as follows: Place natto into a sturdy bowl. Stir the natto, do not mash. Stir fast and well for a minute. Add soy sauce and/or mustard. Finely chop spring onions and mix in. To serve: put a spoonful of the natto mix on steamed rice. Miso soup and sushi match well with natto, or you can add a spoonful to a curry.