Natto is a highly nutritious popular dish in Japan. It is considered to be the healthiest soyabean product and is a common part of Japanese breakfast. So what is natto? Natto is made by soaking soyabeans, boiling or steaming them and finally fermenting the soyabeans by adding Bacillus subtilis. The result is a sticky dish having a pungent smell known as Natto. It is bitter in taste and may not be palatable for non-Japanese people but the presence of nutrients make it a healthy food option.
Since you now know what is natto, let’s discuss its origins. Natto was earlier produced by wrapping boiled soyabeans with rice straws. Bacillus subtilis present on the surface of rice straws fermented the sugar present in the soyabeans leading to formation of natto.
According to Japanese legends, a samuari warrior Minamoto No Yoshiie and his troops discovered natto by accident. The legend goes that when Yoshiie and his troops were attacked by enemy soldiers during the Gosannen War, the soyabeans which were being cooked for the horses were hastily wrapped in straws. When the soldiers unwrapped the soyabeans a few days later, they found fermented soyabeans with a sticky texture and pungent smell which is today known as natto.
Use of rice straws to ferment soyabeans was discarded when scientists isolated Bacillus subtilis. B.subtilis is now directly added to soyabeans packed in styrofoam boxes.
Natto is called a superfood because of the following health benefits
Improved digestion- Natto is loaded with probiotics. Probiotics increase the colonies of healthy gut microorganism which protect the gut against pathogens and toxins which reduce constipation, gas, diarrhea, bloating, inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis and other digestive problems.
Natokinase benefits- Natto contains natokinase enzyme which helps in lowering blood pressure by making the angiotensin converting enzyme inactive. Natokinase also helps in eliminating blood clots. Natokinase enzyme also helps in reducing the risks of heart disease, cancer, beriberi, varicose veins, stroke, peripheral artery disease, infertility, fibromyalgia, arteriosclerosis, endometrosis, uterine fibriods and muscle spasms.
Strong bones- Natto is rich in Vitamin K2 which helps in maintaining bone strength by activating bone-building proteins required to deposit calcium in the bones. K2 increases bone mineral density and slows down the rate of bone mineral loss. Vitamin K2 also reduces the risk of artery calcification and heart disease. Natto is also rich in manganese, copper and zinc which also helps in maintaining bone density.
Improved brain health- Probiotics present in natto help in improving memory and reduce stress. It can also help in combating the symptoms of anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and autism.
100 grams of Natto contains the following levels nutrients.
- Fat- 11 grams
- Calories- 212
- Protein- 18 grams
- Carbohydrates- 14 grams
- Fiber- 5 grams
- Vitamin K2- 29% of RDI
- Iron- 48% of RDI
- Manganese- 76% of RDI
- Calcium- 22% of RDI
- Copper- 33% of RDI
- Potassium- 21% of RDI
- Selenium- 13% of RDI
- Magnesium- 29% of RDI
- Vitamin C- 22% of RDI
How to eat?
Natto is commonly consumed along with rice. Warm rice with natto is an easy way to derive the nutritious benefits of natto. Soya sauce and other kinds of ingredients can also be added to make the meal all the more enjoyable.
Natto can also be consumed with toast or omelette. It can also be mixed with salad.
There are many other Natto recipes which can be found on the internet.