Natto is a Japanese fermented soybean dish that has a slimy texture and distinctive, pungent flavor.
Although some say that it is an acquired taste, natto is extremely nutritious with health benefits ranging from promoting gut health to boosting the immune system.
Here are 7 reasons why natto is super healthy.
Why is natto so nutritious?
Natto is rich in beneficial compounds such as:
- Soybean isoflavone
- Y-polyglutamic acid
- Vitamin K2
- Biogenic amines
- Superoxide Dismutase (SOD)
- Small-molecule polypeptides
7 health benefits of natto
1. Enhances digestion
Natto is abundant in probiotics that improve gut health. Studies have shown that having good bacteria in your gut can boost digestion and ease symptoms of inflammatory bowel disease and colon mucosal inflammation.
One concern regarding soybeans is that they contain antinutrients, which block nutrients from being absorbed. However, the fermentation process of making natto can reduce the number of antinutrients
2. Strengthens immunity
Studies on elderly people have shown that the probiotic strain in natto, Bacillus subtilis, can boost the immune system and offer protection against disease. Probiotics in natto may also enhance the activity of macrophages, which are white blood cells that play crucial roles in the immune system.
3. Promotes bone health
Studies on premenopausal women have shown that natto intake can promote bone growth. Natto is high in vitamin K2, which can help improve bone turnover and increase bone mineral density, which together can prevent osteoporosis.
4. Protects heart health
According to studies, probiotics can lower cholesterol levels, which in turn lowers the risk of heart disease. The sticky and stringy parts of natto are highly concentrated with a substance called nattokinase. Nattokinase has anti-coagulant, anti-atherosclerotic, and neuroprotective properties that can protect the heart from disease.
Studies have shown that natto extract can also help lower blood pressure, and the vitamin K2 content can help prevent calcium deposits from building up in the arteries.
5. Lowers cancer risk
Due to the soy and vitamin K2 of natto, it may have anti-cancer properties. Soy isoflavones have been found to reduce the risk of breast, prostate, and gastrointestinal cancer, and vitamin K2 has been linked to a lower risk of liver cancer.
6. May improve cognitive health
Gut health and heart health are closely linked to brain health. Since natto can promote gut bacteria and protect the heart, it may also improve cognitive function. Some animal studies have shown that fermented soybeans have neuroprotective properties.
7. May promote weight loss
Probiotics can also help with weight loss by preventing an increase in fat mass. Probiotic foods like natto encourage the growth of gut bacteria, which enhances energy metabolism. This can also promote weight loss.
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