Natto – The Superfood You’re Probably Not Eating
Chances are good that you’ve never heard of natto. It’s not very common in the western world due to its texture, taste, and smell. Commonly described as smelling like cheese and old socks and with a sticky, stringy texture, it’s understandable why you don’t find it on lots of menus. Even though you don’t see it much outside of Japan, it’s very common for breakfast there. Japanese natto has incredible health benefits, mostly owing to the fact that the soybeans are fermented. Read on to find out more about this incredible food and the health benefits and high levels of nutrition that it offers.
How to Make Natto
Traditionally, natto is made by letting whole soybeans soak. Soaking them in filtered water overnight will plump them up and get them ready for the next step. Strain them and then either boil or steam them until they are soft. Strain again and, in a sterilized pot, add filtered water and spores from a starter culture. Once you’ve made a batch you can use your own culture going forward. Stir the beans into the water and then place them in shallow containers. Cover with a mositened cheese cloth and place plastic wrap over that. Then the containers will sit in a dehydrator, warmer, or oven for up to 24 hours. The temperature needs to stay around 100F. The fermentation process will yield a while film around the beans and stringy bits. Store the natto in the fridge for up to two weeks, saving ½ cup for your next batch. It can also be frozen.
The health benefits that come with consuming natto are amazing due to the incredible nutrition that this food offers. In just one cup of this amazing food you’ll get 31 grams of protein, 38% of your calcium for the day, and 134% of the recommended daily amount of manganese. For this reason a lot of people eat natto or try hard to learn to like it. It’s a nutritionally dense food whose benefits are only increased due to the fermentation process. Full of Vitamin K2, natto is a wonderful way for vegans and vegetarians to get this vitamin since it’s generally consumed in animal products. Vitamin K2 prevents kidney stones and hardening of the arteries as well as age-related neurological problems , , .
Perks of Fermentation
There are a lot of people who suffer from digestion problems when they eat legumes, but fermenting the soybeans to create natto makes this food easier to digest. This means that people who eat natto are less likely to suffer gastrointestinal problems after eating it than they would be eating it if it hadn’t been fermented. The fermentation process creates a special enzyme called nattokinase. This enzyme has a variety of uses, including as medicine for the treatment of infertility, endometriosis, cancer, and even fibromyalgia, among other medical problems.
Rich in probiotics, natto can work wonders for your health. The bacteria added to start the fermentation process produces amazing enzymes. The enzymes created can reduce clotting and produce vitamin B and K. The bacteria itself is often used to treat IBS (irritable bowl syndrome) symptoms, as well as in the fight against cancer, help with allergies, treat gastrointestinal problems, and increase immunity in cells. All of these amazing health benefits are enjoyed by people who eat natto food, making these probiotics a great reason to try to enjoy it!
Why Eat It
More than just helping with probiotics, eating natto on a regular basis has some other amazing benefits to your health. People who suffer from constipation can eat this food and their problems will be lessened without turning to traditional medicine that a doctor might prescribe. This food is also used to help women who are going through menopause as it will reduce the uncomfortable symptoms that they are experiencing. Another amazing benefit is for people who suffer from high blood pressure – eating this food will actually lower your blood pressure and improve your circulation, which, in turn, will prevent heart attack, heart disease, and even strokes , , .
GMO Soy vs. Natto
There’s an important distinction to be made, and that is that natto boasts a huge range of health benefits that regular, unfermented, GMO soy does not. When consuming soy it’s best to ferment it first, as with this food, as doing so will decrease a lot of health risks. Regular, unfermented soy has aluminum, goitrogens, and phystates, among others. These will cause dementia, cancer and hypothyroidism, and tooth decay. Other health risks of unfermented soy include breast cancer, low oxygen levels, and vitamin B12 deficiency. GMOs carry the risk of cancer, problems with the reproductive system, and even allergies. It’s obvious why, if you choose to consume GMO soy, fermenting it first is the best way to make sure that it’s as healthy as can be for you to eat it. The long list of health problems that can come from GMO soy consumption is in stark contrast to the list of health benefits that you will gain when you add natto to your diet.
There are always things to consider when adding a new food to your diet. It’s important to remember that even with all of the health benefits, natto is high in calories and eating a few cups of it each day can put you at risk of overeating throughout the day. Another concern is when people try to take a naturally healthy food and create a supplement. The nattokinase in food is safe when eaten, but there hasn’t been enough research on it as a supplement to show how healthy it is or if it has any extra health benefits.
If you’re like a lot of people you probably haven’t tried natto before. This amazing fermented food is full of healthy nutrients and vitamins, and eating it can unlock incredible health benefits. Fermenting it yourself at home may be too daunting for most people, but it is definitely worth searching out at a local restaurant to try. Once you learn to love its smell and texture you’ll join the group of people who are reaping the benefits of this amazing food!