The traditional Japanese dish natto is popular in Japan, but it is commonly unheard of in the Western world. Aside from its unique taste, the dish has substantial health benefits due to its nutrition.
This food is unique and is sometimes even described as an acquired taste since, admittedly, not everyone that tries it the first time enjoys this particular dish. It’s important to know that although it might not be great for everyone on the first try, the dish has many health benefits.
What is natto?
Natto is made from fermented soybeans and reportedly holds the characteristics of a slimy, sticky, and stringy texture. It’s also described as coming with a pungent smell, but it tastes a bit nutty.
In Japanese culture, natto is often topped with soy sauce and other seasonings, including mustard or chives. It’s also sold with cooked rice on the side.
To make natto, this traditional dish wraps boiled soybeans in rice straw. This ingredient includes Bacillus subtilis, a type of bacteria, on its surface.
According to research, B. subtilis bacteria has many nutritional benefits. Rice straw has been replaced by styrofoam boxes to start the fermentation process.
Natto’s nutritional benefits
The interesting thing about natto is its many nutrients. A single 3.5-ounce portion includes 19 grams of protein, 13 grams of carbs, 11 grams of fat, and just 211 calories.
Some other nutrients include Vitamin K, Vitamin C, potassium, zinc, selenium, copper, magnesium, and iron. It also contains a significant amount of magnesium; that portion alone would be equivalent to 67 percent of the body’s daily value needs.
The Japanese dish also has smaller amounts of Vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, folate, and other antioxidants and beneficial compounds. Naturally, natto is very nutritious because of how soybeans go through the fermentation process, which results in the growth of probiotics.
Natto’s effects on the digestive system
The gut naturally contains trillions of microorganisms, with a body’s cells only equivalent to a tenth of this total number. Having enough healthy bacteria creates healthy gut flora, resulting in improved digestion and other health benefits.
Natto’s probiotics can act as the first defense in the body’s fight against toxins and harmful bacteria. Researchers highlight that these gut probiotics come with many benefits.
Here are some of the advantages of good gut bacteria.
Having enough good bacteria in your colons and digestive tracts helps reduce gas, bloating, and other adverse side effects. Probiotics also help increase the mobility of someone’s gut and the speed of digestion.
Probiotics also help reduce the pH level of the colon by increasing short-chain fatty acid production. This increases bile salt metabolization, which also assists in peristalsis stimulation.
Probiotics also help cut chunks of infectious diarrhea to shorten the suffering duration. This is because probiotics help repopulate beneficial gut bacteria to correct the imbalance.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and Crohn’s disease
Certain types of probiotic bacteria can stop or at least minimize intestinal inflammation. This supports the evidence of how probiotics could be helpful for IBD and Crohn’s disease.
Due to probiotics being able to balance gut microbiota, there is evidence that it’s a solid preventative food item against numerous diseases like ulcerative colitis. However, this also depends on the person’s gut microbiome since too many probiotics can cause further imbalance.
Since natto contains calcium and vitamin K2, this results in stronger and healthier bones. Vitamin K2 has a vital role in bone health when activating bone-building proteins.
These proteins also help bring calcium into a person’s bones and keep them there for extended periods. Vitamin K2 supplements have also been revealed to help slow age-related bone mineral density losses and also help reduce the risk for certain fracture types.
The traditional Japanese dish includes fiber, which helps reduce cholesterol levels. Due to the fermentation of natto, nattokinase is then produced, an enzyme that helps dissolve blood clots.
Japanese researchers have also found that consuming natto may help lower blood pressure. This is due to the inactivating angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) responsible for blood pressure control.
The interesting thing about traditional Japanese natto is that it isn’t meant to be taken for health reasons. However, it has benefits, a bonus when eating it.
Although adding this dish to your diet might be impractical, it’s good to know that this Japanese delicacy could be an alternative way of getting nutrients.