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Natto - Japanese Healthy Food

Have you ever heard of or tried natto? Natto is a fermented food made by adding bacillus subtilis natto to softened soybeans that have been boiled or steamed. Natto is characterized by its sticky stringiness and distinctive odor. It has the flavor of soybeans, sweetness, and a slight bitterness.

It is one of the most well-known healthy Japanese food. It is actually ranked number one in healthy food ingredients in a ranking made by professional dietitians in Japan.

This week, we will introduce why natto is good for you, natto products we offer at Maido, recipes using natto and making natto using dried soybeans, a trivia of natto, and the origin of natto. Here we go!


Health Benefits of Natto

Natto is a popular especially as breakfast food for Japanese people because it is easy to eat, but it has also been reported to have various health benefits. Let's take a look at how the health benefits of natto are demonstrated and how to eat it to get more effective health benefits.

What are the immune effects of natto? Natto has health benefits such as boosting the immune system and regulating the intestines. What ingredients in natto are responsible for these effects? The first nutrient related to the immune effects of natto is protein. Protein is one of the nutrients that produce energy and is a constituent of cells. It is essential for building organs, immune cells, antibodies, and other immune-supporting components. Natto is rich in protein, so adding natto to your diet can boost your immune system. Next are vitamins. Natto is rich in B vitamins. Among the B vitamins, B2 is necessary to maintain the condition of the skin and mucous membranes. Since the skin and mucous membranes serve as a barrier to prevent pathogens from entering the body, keeping them in good condition is greatly related to improving the immune system. Vitamin B6 is also necessary for enzyme reactions related to metabolism. A deficiency of vitamin B6 results in low metabolism, low body temperature, and reduced blood flow, which in turn lowers immunity. Zinc is a component related to metabolism, and is also abundant in natto. Zinc is related to the metabolism of various cells, so taking a good amount of zinc can help improve immunity. There is one organ that cannot be ignored when talking about immunity: the intestines. The intestines contain more than 60% of the cells that control immunity, and adjusting the intestinal environment is directly related to enhancing immunity. Bacillus subtilis natto is an ingredient that regulates this intestinal environment. It is a bacterium used to ferment soybeans to make natto, and is resistant to stomach acid and can reach the intestines alive, thus regulating the intestinal environment. It regulates the intestinal environment by becoming a source of nutrients for lactic acid bacteria that regulate the intestines and by assisting the activities of intestinal bacteria.

It is not just about immunity - There are other health benefits.

We have looked at the effects of natto on immunity, but the health benefits of natto are not just limited to maintaining immunity.

First of all, natto contains abundant dietary fiber. Dietary fiber has the effect of regulating the intestinal environment, which leads to improved immunity, but it also has the effect of moderating the absorption of carbohydrates. The rise in blood glucose levels after eating is suppressed and the amount of insulin secreted is reduced. This reduces the burden on the pancreas and lowers the risk of diabetes.

Incidentally, a 1.7 oz./50 g serving of natto (each pack of natto is around that weight) contains 0.1 oz./3.3 g of dietary fiber. This is equivalent to half of the dietary fiber needed in one serving of meal. Adding natto to your diet allows you to take in more dietary fiber.

Nattokinase is another ingredient that cannot be overlooked when discussing the health benefits of natto. Nattokinase, the sticky component of natto, has the effect of breaking down fibrin, which is a component of blood clots that form in blood vessels, and is effective in preventing blood clots and dissolving clots that have formed.

If a blood clot forms, the blood vessel may become clogged. When blood vessels become clogged and blood cannot flow, nearby cells die due to lack of oxygen and nutrients. If this happens in the brain, it can lead to cerebral infarction, and if it happens in the blood vessels of the heart, it can lead to myocardial infarction.

Both are serious diseases that greatly affect the quality of life. Stroke, including cerebral infarction, is the most common cause of being bedridden, while myocardial infarction causes significant damage to cardiac function. Preventing these diseases is very important in extending healthy life expectancy.

How can you eat natto effectively? Natto has various health benefits, but how should it be eaten? It is said that when eating natto, it should not be heated too much, because mattokinase is heat-sensitive. It is deactivated when the temperature exceeds 122°F/50°C. This reduces the meaning of eating natto by half. Even if you think you do not need nattokinase and heat the notto, the vitamins contained in natto will also be reduced. Only heat-resistant vitamin K2 remains. This vitamin K2 has a blood-clotting effect, so even if you eat natto to make your blood flow better, you may end up with a blood-slugging result. In order for nattokinase to be effective, it must be kept away from heat. When eating it with rice, it is best to eat it in separate bowls rather than mixing it with rice. Also, natto is good to be eaten at night because blood clots are more likely to form at night. Eating natto at night can help to avoid you from having blood clots. Natto is an excellent healthy food that contains various healthy ingredients and is easy to eat. Now, you must understand why it is selected as number one healthy food in Japan.


Natto Maido Currently Offers

We carry many different kinds of natto from various brands. Most natto comes with the sauce and karashi, Japanese mustard.


Mizkan, Kin no Tsubu Niowa Natto (small grains)

Kin no Tsubu means golden grain. This natto has reduced the unique smell (low-grade branched fatty acids) which is characteristic of natto. There is no need to worry about the smell before going out. The soybeans used for natto are managed separately from genetically modified ones.


Mizkan, Kin no Tsubu Toro Mame (very small grains)

Melt-in-your-mouth soft texture and fluffy stringiness of this natto along the mild flavored sauce will keep you enjoying natto. It is a very small grain natto. The soybeans used for natto are managed separately from genetically modified ones.


Mizkan, Kin no Tsubu with Ume Flavored Black Vinegar Sauce (very small grains)

This natto comes with ume pickled plum flavored black vinegar sauce made with Kishu ume for a slightly sweet, sour, and mild taste. You can enjoy the refreshing ume flavor.


Shirakiku, Okame Natto with (very small grains) This is a long-selling product introduced in the 1980s. Under their own strict quality control, this natto has an orthodox taste with stickiness and flavor extracted through thorough fermentation. The tiny soybeans blend well with condiments and rice. The accompanying sauce has a robust flavor with umami and saltiness that goes well with the umami of natto.


Takano Foods, Okame Natto with Extra Sauce with 7 kinds of Dashi (very small grains)

This natto is made with plenty of dashi broth ingredients, and has a generous amount of sauce(twice as much as their company's other natto). The light-colored, golden-brown dashi, which is a combination of bonito flakes, mackerel flakes, mullet flakes, dried anchovies, grilled sardines, dried horse mackerel, and kombu, and light soy sauce, creates a mild yet multilayered flavor. Natto is lightly seasoned to accentuate the taste of the dashi.


Mameki, Kitano Suzu (very small grains)

This product is made from 100% Japanese grown soybeans from Hokkaido. It is steamed at low pressure and fermented at low temperature. This method keeps the beans delicious and fluffy without losing any of their goodness and nutrients.


Osato, Yukihomare (large grains)

This natto has won four awards at the National Natto Evaluation Committee. Yuki Homare is an Osato's confident product made from Hokkaido-grown large soybeans Yuki Homare (the natto's name came after the beans' name), which have just the right firmness and a moderately chewy texture. The greatest feature of Yukihomare is their surprisingly large grain size. They repeated trials with various soybeans, and when they used Yuki Homare, they were able to produce a deep flavor with the characteristics of the soybeans, and decided to commercialize the product. Their natto is made from only soybeans and bacillus subtilis natto. No other additives are added.


Taihei Natto, Natto Zanmai (very small grains) This natto is made from organically grown soybeans. It is made with the desire to convey the simple taste of the old days as it has always been, and to remind people of breakfast and dinner in their hometown.


We'll introduce some natto recipes in the next blog post.


There is a lot of food items, housewares, stationery, and gifts available at the store and our online store, Maido! Kairashi Shop, where you can place your order for shipping or store pickup! Happy shopping. :)


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