Much like blue cheese in France, stinky tofu in Hong Kong, and durian from South-East Asia, natto in Japan is very much an acquired smell and taste.
The gooey, sticky, and fermented traditional soybean dish hails all the way from the times of Ancient Japan. Whilst its origins are still a bit murky, one thing’s for sure: it’s always been quite a controversial dish amongst foreigners.
One of the main reasons behind this is the smell emitted by the fermented dish. Many people will politely liken the smell to pungent aged cheese. Whilst cheese-lovers will rejoice and consider it a delicacy, others will find it unpleasant, almost repulsive to be in the presence of.
Japanese people often consume natto for breakfast over rice. Some of the most common condiments eaten with natto include mustard and soy sauce. When you’re in Japan and you’re purchasing natto at the konbini, this is what you will most likely receive in the package. For more seasoned natto-enthusiasts, spring onion and kimchi are also a welcoming addition.
If you’re trying natto for the first time, the preparation process is super easy! Simply peel back the packet and stir through the soybeans thoroughly 20-30 times. Add the soy sauce and mix through, and then add the mustard and stir. All done!
What many people probably don’t know is that natto is almost considered a superfood. It’s packed with nutrients that are wonderfully beneficial for the body, from digestion to even anti-aging skin improvements.
Below are some hidden benefits of this very smelly food in Japan that might even make you change your mind about trying it!
1. Improve Your Bone Health
Natto is a naturally rich source of vitamin K2 which is scientifically proven to contribute to higher bone mineral density. Children who consume natto at a young age will reap these benefits long into adulthood.
It’s also been found that those who consumed natto regularly throughout their lives were less likely to experience bone loss or osteoporosis at a later stage in life.
2. Anti-Aging Effects
Natto contains polyamine, an ingredient that offers cell rejuvenating effects on the skin. The fermentation process of natto allows for polyamine to grow in the food and evidently be supercharged.
This must be the reason why Japanese people look younger than their age!
3. Popular Diet Food
Given the high amount of probiotics and fiber that natto consists of, there’s no wonder why it’s considered a popular diet food!
Both of the above play a huge role in keeping you full for a long time after consumption; it also helps suppress your need to snack (something that everyone struggles with, we know!).
Natto is also full of isoflavones, meaning that it makes it harder for excess fats to accumulate and also helps to burn fat.
4. Great for Digestive System
Natto is one of the best Japanese foods you can consume for your digestive system. The fermentation process that it goes through creates perfect conditions for probiotics to grow in. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that offer a heap of health benefits, not in the least including making foods more digestible. This means your gut will be able to absorb the nutrients much easier than other goods.
5. Great for Your Heart Health
Natto is packed with an enzyme called nattokinase which assists with dissolving blood clots. Its super-concentrated volume in natto means that regular consumption will assist with improving blood flow by cleaning out vessels, reducing the risk of hypertension and stroke, and even reducing the risk of heart attacks!
If you’re still wondering whether or not to take the plunge and try some natto, the answer should be a resounding ‘yes!’. With all the benefits included, we’d be surprised if you don’t include it in your regular diet from now on!