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Natto – Its Dietary Benefits and Ways to Enjoy It

Updated on September 29, 2012
Natto with Egg and Vegetables - Ideal for Health and Dieting
Natto with Egg and Vegetables - Ideal for Health and Dieting | Source
Natto on Rice
Natto on Rice | Source

Long loathed by some people for its rank smell, acquired taste, and gooey texture, natto from Japan is actually loaded with healthful benefits, making it a staple in Japanese cuisine for the last 1,000 years.

Health and Dietary Benefits of Natto

Essentially, natto is soybeans fermented with bacillus subtilis, a form of probiotics that gives this traditional Japanese food its time-held reputation as a super food.

As a super food, natto has research-backed nourishing capabilities, some of which are listed below:

  • Natto is a natural, plant-based source of protein, making it an excellent substitute for meat.
  • It can boost the immune system and deliver anti-inflammation properties to the body.
  • It can fight carcinogens with its saponin content.
  • It contains lecithin, which helps improve memory and prevent arteriosclerosis.
  • It has an extensive range of beneficial amino acids.
  • It has natural antibiotic properties.
  • It has selenium.
  • It has Vitamin K that can help calcium in forming bones and preventing osteoporosis.
  • It has Vitamin PQQ, which helps the skin stay healthy.
  • It is low in calories and is ideal for people who want to shed pounds.
  • It may delay aging.
  • It may lower bad cholesterol levels.

How to Enjoy Natto and Make It a Part of Your Diet

Eating natto has been a challenge to many people inside and outside of Japan.

Notwithstanding its health and dietary benefits, the fetid smell and stringy consistency of this food turn some people off quite often.

However, it is good to note that natto’s taste is worth acquiring.

You can take another quick look at its nourishing benefits listed above to remind yourself of how good this food truly is.

To enjoy natto, you can try out the following suggestions:

  • Allow yourself time and several chances to acquire the taste of natto. If you would not like it the first time you sample it, then try it again for a second, third or nth time. Honestly, it is worth doing.
  • Mix natto with rice and eat it for breakfast. Natto with rice and a bowl of miso soup have been commonly eaten for breakfast in Japan.
  • Another option is to eat natto with vegetables. You can eat the vegetables fresh or steam them before mixing them with natto.
  • Still another option is to squeeze in mustard or pour apple cider vinegar into natto. These equally healthy foods shall balance out the stinky smell of natto and even add in more nutrients to this already beneficial food.
  • Adding in wasabi is also an option. Wasabi has a strong taste and will help in neutralizing the soggy taste of natto.

Note that it is better to eat natto as a food and not as a supplement.

Prepared natto has far more nutrients than natto supplements.

It is also more effective in delivering its nutrients to the body than its supplement counterpart .

Natto Recipes

Hate eating natto?

Why not mix it with other ingredients and make it into a whole new dish?

You may want to start your natto cooking adventure by trying out these two recipes.

Natto Sushi

Ingredients for Natto Sushi

  • cucumber – 1 small-sized piece; peeled; sliced into strips
  • leeks – 2 thin pieces; cut lengthwise
  • natto – 1 pack (can be bought in Asian or Japanese stores)
  • nori – 1 sheet
  • red ginger – 1 tablespoon; pickled; finely chopped
  • sesame seeds – 1 teaspoon; roasted
  • sushi rice – 1 bowl; cooked

Steps for Making Natto Sushi

  1. Mix sesame seeds with sushi rice.
  2. Finely chop the pickled red ginger and mix it with sushi rice as well.
  3. Cut the cucumber lengthwise into thin strips.
  4. Cut the leeks thinly lengthwise as well.
  5. Mix the mustard, sesame oil, and soy sauce that come with natto in the natto pack. If these condiments are not available in the natto pack, then mix in one tablespoon each of mustard, sesame oil, and soy sauce with natto.
  6. On a cellophane paper or sushi roll pad, lay down the nori.
  7. Place rice evenly on the nori, making sure that there is about one inch of space between the bottom edge of the nori and the bottom edge of the cellophane paper or sushi roll pad.
  8. On top of the rice, place cucumber, leek, and natto.
  9. Roll the nori and everything on top of it firmly.
  10. Cut the roll into one-inch slices.
  11. Serve with soy sauce and wasabi.

Enjoy your homemade natto sushi!

Miso-Natto Soup

Ingredients for Miso-Natto Soup

  • carrot – 1 medium-sized piece; halved; cut into strips
  • Japanese seven-spice chili powder – 1 teaspoon
  • konnyaku – 9 ounces; cut into strips
  • miso – 1/3 cup
  • napa cabbage – ½ medium-sized piece; quartered; chopped
  • natto – 6 ounces
  • soy sauce – 1 teaspoon
  • tofu – 1 pack of 300 grams; cut into cubes
  • water or dashi – 8 cups
  • white potato – 1 large-sized piece; peeled; halved; cut into cubes
  • white radish or daikon – 1 small-sized piece; halved; cut into strips

Steps for Making Miso-Natto Soup

  1. In a pot set over high heat, pour in water or dashi.
  2. Bring water or dashi to a boil.
  3. Add in konnyaku.
  4. Lower heat to medium and simmer for about five minutes.
  5. Add in carrots, white radish or daikon, and white potato.
  6. Bring to a boil.
  7. Once boiling, lower heat and simmer for three minutes.
  8. Add in tofu and napa cabbage.
  9. Simmer for about three minutes or until napa cabbage wilts a little.
  10. Add in miso and dissolve it completely.
  11. Pour in soy sauce.
  12. Add in natto.
  13. Sprinkle with Japanese seven-spice chili powder.

Serve and enjoy your miso-natto soup!

Copyright © 2012 Kerlyn Bautista

All Rights Reserved

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