Soy and soy-based products have lots of controversies – including natto. With all of the contradictory claims out there from health experts and researchers, it is no wonder that a lot of people are left scratching their heads on whether soy really helps or just causes harm to your health. It depends. Various marketing geniuses say that soy is a wonderful, healthy alternative to almost everything. In most of the supermarkets, you will find soy-based products. Unluckily though, a lot of these forms of soy are not that healthy. Nonetheless, it is certain that there are some soy-based products which may boast a lot of health benefits. This includes natto – a traditional food that is usually consumed at Japanese breakfast tables. The health benefits of natto are plentiful and wide-ranging. Read on and get to know more!
Natto: What is It?
As what stated earlier, natto is a traditional food that is eaten at Japanese breakfast tables. It commonly comes with rice, fish and miso soup. Natto, miso, tempeh and tofu are all types of whole foods that come from the soy bean. Nevertheless, unlike the other soy foods, natto is fermented. This accounts for a lot of its health-promoting properties. It is made by soaking whole soybeans and then steaming and boiling them. Afterwards, the bacteria Bacillus subtilis is added to the mixture. Over time, it will ferment, and voila!
Natto is famously an acquired taste, possibly because of its unique texture and smell. It has a very distinct and bitter taste, and its ammonia smell may remind some of a mixture of cheese and old socks. When it comes to its texture, it’s like a sticky, stringy and gooey small bean, which may add to its unappealing nature.
More often than not, people have strong feelings about natto. They tend to either love it, eat it, or even hate it. Its taste is not bad, if a bit bitter, but its worst trait is its unpleasant smell. Its stringy texture may also be surprising and unfamiliar to most of western palates and taste buds. However, if you can tolerate it, it is packed with powerful nutrients, which can have a huge impact on your overall health.
Nutritional Content of Natto
While the appearance of natto may not leave that much of a good first impression, its nutritional content can make it worth a try. In fact, natto is an excellent source of essential vitamins and minerals, fiber and protein. In addition, the Bacillus subtilis in it creates an enzyme known as nattokinase, which is beneficial in the production of vitamin K2 and has the capacity to help preserve heart health.
Moreover, it is also rich in micronutrients and macronutrients. There is no doubt that it is fantastically nutritious; some even say that it is at a superfood ranking.
A cup, or about 175 grams, of natto may contain the following essential nutrients:
|Principles||Amount||% Daily Value|
|Dietary fiber||9.4 grams||–|
|Vitamin K||40.4 micrograms||51%|
|Vitamin C||22.8 milligrams||38%|
|Vitamin B6||0.2 milligrams||11%|
In addition to the aforementioned essential nutrients, natto also has a small amount of sodium, pantothenic acid and folate.
Health Benefits of Natto
Here are some of the most staggering health benefits of natto:
- Helps keep the heart healthy. Since it is one of the most nutrient-dense foods, it is not really surprising that adding it to your diet may really help keep heart healthy. Not only that, but eating natto and acquiring its nattokinase is also associated with reduced blood pressure.
- Helps enhance digestive health. Consuming probiotic foods like natto may help balance the bacteria in the gut in order to optimize digestive health. Moreover, research shows that disruptions in the gut microbiome may have a serious effect on digestive health.
- Helps promote bone health. The rich content of micronutrients in natto plays an important role in bone health. For instance, calcium is one of the major structural components of bone tissue and is essential in the prevention of bone loss.
- Contains nattokinase. During the process of fermentation, soy starts to become more easily absorbed and digested by the body. This is a good thing for those who usually suffer from gut conditions when eating legumes.
- Rich vitamin K content. One of the reasons why natto is good for your health is that it is rich in vitamin K. As a matter of fact, governing bodies suggest that natto has about 100 times more vitamin K2 than cheese. This is essential in maintaining bone mineral density in postmenopausal women who are suffering from osteoporosis.