Amidst the delectable dishes and inviting flavors of Japanese cuisine is a pungent and gooey side dish called nattō. Nattō is speculated to be the secret to a long life and can be considered the superfood of Japan and like many other superfoods, nattō divides, even Japanese natives, between those who either stand by it or can't stand it. It's absolutely a food that's an acquired taste mainly due to it's funky smell and sticky texture. Nattō is truly one of a kind and is pretty difficult to pinpoint its exact taste in comparison to other foods regarded as "stinky." Nevertheless, it's been a staple in the Japanese diet for thousands of years and can easily be found in packaged parcels in the freezer section of any Japanese/Asian supermarket.
So what exactly is nattō and what makes it worth it?
Simply put, nattō are soybeans fermented with Bacillus subtilis, making it a probiotic food that boasts an impressive list of health benefits.
Assists with our digestion. As you may already know, your digestive system is lined with trillions of microorganisms and having the right kind of helpful bacteria present creates a healthy internal environment. The probiotics in nattō serves as your gut's first line of defense, detecting and fighting harmful bacteria and other toxins that may enter your body.
Improves our immune systems. For the same explanation as above, nattō creates better defense against harmful foreign microorganisms and even promotes the the production of our body's natural antibodies.
Reduces blood clotting. Nattō contains vitamin K1 which regulates blood clotting, but it also contains nattokinase, a powerful enzyme produced during the fermentation process. It helps dissolve blood clots, normalizes blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and thins blood as well, reducing its ability to form clots. Nattokinase is packed in the stringy strands of nattō when you pull at it. Perfect for people with heart disease and cardiovascular issues.
Strengthens our bones. Nattō is actually one of the few foods that contains both vitamin K1, mentioned above, and K2 in abundance. Vitamin K2 works to activate proteins that deliver calcium and help them stick to our bones, which results in increased bone density. This makes nattō a vital food for those with osteoporosis. Healthier bones make for a healthier, more active body!
Results in healthier, more luminous skin. Vitamin PQQ, something that may sound new to many, help with protection and repair, particularly on the skin.
Nattō may not be for everyone, but its definitely worth a try with all these benefits considered. If you're a lover sharp flavors like strong cheeses, you may be in for a treat if you can get past its sticky texture. If you're completely new, it's recommended that you eat nattō sprinkled with green onions and a side of rice to help cut its pungent aroma.