In line with many of our other Rhapsody products, natto is a traditional Japanese fermented food. It has a stringy sticky texture and very distinct flavor that can be likened to a strong aged cheese. Many relish it as a delicacy while others have learned to love it (or at least like it enough to eat regularly) for it’s unusual health benefits. The beans used for natto beans are usually small soybeans so that the bacteria (Bacillus subtilis) can permeate and ferment the bean more thoroughly. Because soybeans are high in phytic acid, it’s important to eat it fermented as the fermentation breaks down the phytic acid and adds many desirable elements to the product. Some highlights of the health benefits of natto are as follows.
1) High in Vitamin K2.
Vitamin K2 is necessary for proper bone development and maintaining a healthy bone mineral density. It assists in calcium absorption to aid in creating and maintaining healthy bones. While assisting the absorption of calcium for the bones, it also helps keep the vascular system clear of calcification. A diet rich in Vitamin K helps to make sure that the calcium ends up where it needs to be (bones) and doesn’t go where it shouldn’t be (arteries and heart). Although K2 is present in leafy greens and other vegetables, the richest food source of Vitamin K2 is natto. This argument was made stronger when research showed that Japanese who eat natto on a daily basis are at much lower risk for bone fractures than Western countries where Vitamin K2 deficiency is more common. One serving of natto (100g) contains 29% DV of Vitamin K (1 and 2).
Natto is fermented and is made using the Bacillus subtilis natto bacteria. This bacteria is helpful in aiding digestive disorders, especially those instigated by the use of antibiotics. It is said that in ancient Japan the Samurai’s used it daily and would even feed it to their horses to increase their speed, health and vitality. The B. subtilus bacteria can live out it’s whole life cycle in the human gut, which not all probiotics are capable of. This makes natto a highly effective aid in creating a healthy environment in your digestive system.
3) Contains Nattokinase.
Nattokinase is an enzyme that helps break down blood clots. As you get older your body’s ability to create plasmin (the natural enzyme that breaks down blood clots) diminishes, while the ability and rate of creating clots increases. Nattokinase can take the place of plasmin in breaking down these blot clots. It has been suggested that nattokinase can help with the prevention of Alzheimer’s and diabetes, although more study needs to be done to make this more understood.
4) Vegetable Protein.
Natto has 18 grams of protein available per 100g serving. It contains a broad range of amino acids and is very nearly a complete protein. When paired with rice, it supplies all the amino acids to make a complete protein.
5) Other Nutrition Data.
One serving of natto (about 100g/3.5oz) contains:
- 22% RDV Dietary Fiber
- 22% RDV Calcium
- 22% RDV Vitamin C
- 48% RDV Iron
- 6% Vitamin B6
- 76% Manganese
- 29% Magnesium
- 21% Potassium
- 20% Zinc
Traditionally natto is made from a variety of small soybeans. It can be made with large soybeans, but has a different taste and texture. Organic natto soybeans are not available in the United States at this time, so we have to contend with Non-GMO soybeans for now. The folks that we get our natto soybeans from practice progressive farming techniques such as crop rotations to strengthen the soil and reduce pesticide use. However, they are not organic which we would prefer. We are in conversation with local farmers in the hopes that if we create the need for natto beans (by making natto), they would grow them. We have a few promising prospects and have high hopes for making natto with certified organic soybeans in the future.
Natto is best when eaten fresh and warm, but can be frozen for keeping longer. Keep refrigerated and consume before the date on the container, or freeze upon receipt and consume within the sell-by-date of thawing.
Try our natto and enjoy!