Natto is by no means a new food. It’s been a traditional and popular, yet polarizing health food for centuries in Japan. About 7.5 billion packets of natto are sold each year. It’s clear that many people love it and eat it daily (it’s a popular breakfast staple), but some people just can’t stand the stuff.
Natto is essentially steamed soybeans that have been fermented with a bacteria called Bacillus subtilis and then aged for about a week. The resulting product looks like the soybeans have been covered in some sort of stringy slime. This can be off-putting for some. The smell is even more of an issue for others, as it resembles the aroma of well-worn socks or an extremely strong cheese.
The Great Things About Natto
Excellent Source of Both Vitamin K1 and K2 - Vitamin K1 can be found in green leafy vegetables, but few foods contain both K1 and K2. Both vitamins can help regulate blood clotting and improve heart health. And Vitamin K2 has been shown to possess significant anti-carcinogenic qualities, possibly helping to reduce the risk of prostate cancer by up to 35%.1
Nattokinase for Heart Health - Natto is the only dietary source of nattokinase, an enzyme that also helps significantly with regulating blood clotting, and which has been shown to have a profound beneficial effect on protecting our bodies from heart disease and hypertension.2
Natto Is a Micronutrient Powerhouse - In addition to vitamin K, natto contains sizeable amounts of vitamins C and B, as well as riboflavin, folate, B6, and even B12 (vegans rejoice). On top of that it has generous amounts of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc, copper, and even iron (100g of natto contains 8.6 mg of iron). It’s also full of fiber to help you feel full on fewer calories.
Probiotics - Since Natto is a fermented food, it contains a whole host of beneficial bacteria, especially Bacillus subtilis, to aid in digestion and help to maintain a healthy gut flora balance.
Natto In Supplement Form
Vitamin K2 comes from two sources: animal and bacteria. The K2 found in, grass-fed meat, egg yolks, and butter is called Menaquinone-4 or MK-4. If this appears on the label, it is likely synthetic. Vitamin K2 in bacterial form has a range of MK-5 through MK-10. MK-7 is the one found in natto, and the one you’ll typically see on supplement labels.
1. Nimptsch K, Rohrmann S, Linseisen J, "Dietary intake of vitamin K and risk of prostate cancer in the Heidelberg cohort of the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer Nutrition (EPIC-Heidelberg)." The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. April 2008.
2. Kim JY, Gum SN, Paik JK, et al. "Effects of nattokinase on blood pressure: a randomized, controlled trial" Hypertension Research. August 2008.
3. www.breakingmuscle.com by Jeff Taraday