Have you heard of natto? Chances are you haven’t unless you visit an Asian supermarket on a regular basis. Even then, it’s not so readily available outside of Asia.
Natto is a sticky, smelly kind of substance. That’s not surprising given that it is fermented soybeans. Yet this Japanese staple is one hell of an awesome addition to your daily health regime, if you can stomach the pungent smell that is.
Here are 5 of the main reasons why you should consider adding natto to your list of health promoting foods:
1. Nutritional Benefits
Natto is packed full of protein AND it’s also low in fat. If you packed in 100g serving each day will provide you with a mouth-watering 36% of your recommended daily intake of protein. 100g is probably a little much, so just stick with the standard 40g pack size and you’ll still get a bunch of other great nutrients. For instance, hypothetically speaking 100g would equate to 20% of your recommended potassium for the day.
Natto also comes with its own special ingredient – Nattokinase. This is a type of enzyme specifically extracted from natto. It is also available in a capsule form from health food and supplement stores, but is best consumed as a by-product of natto itself. Although nothing has been 100% proven, it is widely considered that Nattokinase can act as an alternative medicine for those suffering from cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
3. Vitamin PQQ and Vitamin K2
These two additional naturally occurring substances are found in natto. Vitamin PQQ (also known as pyrroloquinoline quinone – but let’s stick with the former) is great for keeping the skin healthy, as well as delaying the onset of progressive bone density loss in post-menopausal women. On the other hand, Vitamin K2 is thought to be advantageous for its anticoagulating properties. Although it can found be found in small doses in eggs and some meats, natto contains the richest source of the vitamin.
4. Digestive Aid
Natto is one of the best solutions for those suffering from stomach complaints including IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) as it is known for its digestive benefits. Much like Yakult, which incidentally is also produced in Japan, natto boasts a good amount of the probiotic bacteria Bacillus Subtilis which helps to break down undigested food in the stomach. This is also recognised by Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare as conducive to health preservation.
5. Low in Calories
Really, you can’t go wrong with natto if you’re currently on a weight-loss plan. Each 40g pack is equivalent to around 84 calories, so it is perfect to have as a snack. If you’re looking for something more substantial or to take the edge off the strong flavor, try eating it mixed together with a nice ripe avocado, or some cherry tomatoes. There is also zero cholesterol in natto, so you don’t need to worry about that side of things either.
So if you’re still not convinced that natto is the best thing since sliced bread, why not try it for yourself? It’s not even that expensive if you take into consideration the cost of importing it. In Japan, this stuff sells in packs of 4 x 40g for between 50 cents to $1 – and apparently doctors even recommend that their patients eat natto every day, especially if they have been diagnosed with stomach cancer. There are other health-boosting fermented products on the market (not including beer) and natto does have a strong smell, but Korean staple dish kimchi has a lot more to answer for in that department than natto does.