It’s been described as “strings of soy slime.” But don’t let its pungent smell, sticky texture and musty taste (which some just call “interesting”) turn you off. Natto is anything but nasty when it comes to enhancing your health. Although made from soy, which Paleo usually says is a no-go, natto is a special kind of soy. As a nutrient-dense traditional food that originated in Japan; It’s made from whole soybeans that have been soaked, then boiled or steamed and then fermented.
The bacterium strain used in the soybean fermentation is Bacillus subtilis natto. It takes the soybeans from ho-hum legumes to a potent food supplement with high levels of vitamins and other beneficial qualities.
Why you should try natto
Nattō has extremely high levels of vitamin K2. Which plays an important role in bone mineralization, cancer prevention, and cardiovascular health. This vitamin is present in only a few foods but is vital to our well-being.
It’s a significant source of iron. One cup of natto contains 83% of the recommended daily value for this important mineral. It helps carry oxygen from the lungs to muscles and organs.
Fermented soybeans have been shown to contain a compound known as PQQ. Which is important for the skin and can act as an antioxidant. PQQ in human tissues is derived primarily from foods in the diet.
It’s relatively low in carbs, with just 14.36 grams of carbohydrates per serving.
It’s high in fiber, with about 5.4 grams in each serving.
Nattō is also high in protein, providing over 17 grams of it in each 100 gram serving. Protein aids in tissue repair, gives us energy and boosts our immunity.
It’s also a rich source of Vitamin C. Which helps bolster our immune system, provides cardiovascular disease protection, prevents prenatal health complications, contributes to eye health and fights skin wrinkling, among others.
It contains high levels of magnesium, a key micronutrient that helps regulate muscle, nerve and heart function.
High in calcium as well; Natto has over 21% of the recommended daily allowance for this mineral in each 100 gram serving.
In addition, natto provides modest levels of vitamin E and vitamin B2.
Nattō also contains an enzyme called nattokinase,.Which is produced during the fermentation process and is said to help prevent blood clots.
As a supplemental whole food, natto is called an “essential” dietary addition by some Paleo/Primal advocates. This is because of all the healthy bonuses it brings to the plate. Like some Paleo foods, it might take some getting used to at first. Once you’ve given it a try, you just might just like it and all the ways it does a body good.