Natto: What Is It And How Does It Benefit Your Health

Natto: What Is It And How Does It Benefit Your Health

Natto is a popular dish in Japan. Although it is quite common among the Japanese population, not many have heard of this nutritious food.

Natto is fermented soybeans. Fermentation is a process in which sugars are converted to acid or alcohol with the help of microorganisms like bacteria and yeast. The microorganism that helps in fermenting soybeans is a bacterium called Bacillus subtilis. Natto has a unique pungent smell and it has a nutty flavor.

In Japan, natto is usually garnished with soy sauce, chives, mustard, or other seasonings and served with cooked rice. Natto is eaten for breakfast or even as a snack.

Nutritional Facts About Natto

Nutritional Facts About Natto

Natto contains a number of nutrients that are essential for our body. A 100-gram portion of natto offers the following nutrients:

Proximates

  • Calories – 211 kcal
  • Proteins – 19 g
  • Fats – 11 g
  • Carbohydrates – 13 g
  • Dietary Fiber – 5 g

Minerals 

  • Magnesium – 115 mg
  • Phosphorus – 174 mg
  • Potassium – 729 mg
  • Sodium – 7 mg
  • Zinc – 3 mg

Vitamins

  • Vitamin C – 13 mg
  • Thiamin – 0.160 mg
  • Riboflavin
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    – 0.190 mg
  • Vitamin B-6 – 0.130 mg

Apart from these nutrients, natto also contains traces of folate and pantothenic acid and also has antioxidative properties.1

Since natto is fermented, it also favors the growth of probiotics which are beneficial bacteria. One benefit is that they help with better digestion which in turn helps your stomach to absorb nutrients better.2 They also contain fewer antinutrients – compounds that hinder the absorption of nutrients – and other toxic components.3

4 Health Benefits Of Natto

1. Improves Digestion

Natto
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As mentioned earlier, fermentation provides a lot of health benefits to your body. Because of the presence of the useful bacteria, it contributes to a healthy gut flora. This helps with better digestion of the food you eat.

Results of an animal study show how Bacillus subtilis has a positive effect on the colon mucosal inflammation and plasma cytokines levels in inflammatory bowel disease.4

In addition, soybeans naturally contain antinutrients (compounds that hinder the process of absorption of nutrients); however, the fermentation of soybeans reduces the level of antinutrients, improving digestion.

2. Increases Bone Strength

Natto Can Increase Your Bone Strength

Natto is a good source of calcium, one of

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the most important minerals required to strengthen your bones. Natto is also one of the sources of vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 is important for your bones because it helps to bring calcium into your bones.5

Results of a study show how natto can help prevent the development of osteoporosis and, in postmenopausal women, postmenopausal bone loss.6 Natto contains menaquinone-7 or other bioavailable isoflavones that help build bone strength.

3. Promotes Heart Health

Natto Can Promote Your Heart Health

Natto may also help in providing a healthy heart. This is because it is a good source of fiber and probiotics and both

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can lower cholesterol levels. This reduces the risk of cardiovascular and coronary heart diseases.7

Natto fermentation produces an enzyme called nattokinase that can help dissolve blood clots.8 Moreover, nattokinase enzyme plays an important role in maintaining blood pressure. Results of a study show that the intake of nattokinase supplements significantly reduced systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure. Therefore, natto may be used in the prevention and treatment of hypertension.9

4. May Boost The Immune System

Natto May Boost Your Immune
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Because of the presence of probiotics, natto may enhance your immune system. Due to the presence of Bacillus subtilis, it is found that the immune system of elders can be stimulated. In addition, it can also provide a resistance to common infectious diseases in senior citizens.10 It is also known that probiotics may help in reducing the effects of acute upper respiratory tract infections in immunocompetent children.11

In addition, natto contains nutrients like vitamin C, zinc, and others that help boost the immune system.12

Besides these benefits, natto may also help reduce the risk of certain cancers like liver, prostate, and breast cancer. It may also help in weight loss because of the presence of fiber and probiotics, leading to better digestion. Foods rich in probiotics may help in improving brain health by reducing the symptoms of anxiety, stress, depression, and other conditions. However, very little research has been conducted in these fields and more evidence is required to substantiate these statements.

Natto is generally safe for consumption. However, it contains vitamin K1 which has blood-thinning properties. Therefore, if you are already taking blood-thinning medications, it is always better to consult your doctor about adding natto to your diet. Also, eating too much of anything cannot be good; therefore, even if you add natto to your diet, do so in moderate amounts.

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