If Malaysia has durians, Japan has nattō (it has a pungent smell that many people dislike)! Yet, similar to durians, many people love it and some Japanese people even eat nattō as their breakfast every day!
If you have watched or read Crayon Shin Chan when you were younger, you probably have always wondered how the spider-web-like beans taste like.
The sticky, spider-web-like food is called nattō, a Japanese fermented soybean food made from a bacteria called the “Bacillus subtilis”, also known as “grass bacillus” or “hay bacillus”. This food item has a history extending to more than four centuries back!
The food is usually eaten together with rice, raw eggs, or other ingredients such as scallions and kimchi. You can also enjoy nattō on its own as it is quite addictive.
Nattō’s Nutrients And Benefits You Probably Did Not Know About
Although many recognise Natto as a snack, it is actually a very nutritious superfood. So, the question is, what makes nattō so healthy?
1. Aids Your Digestion
Any food which is fermented contains probiotics, a type of microorganism, is beneficial to the body. The probiotics used to ferment nattō is Bacillus subtilis. It can help to reduce gas in the body, constipation, bloating and diarrhoea.
Moreover, it also helps your body to absorb more nutrients compared to non-fermented soybeans. Each gram of nattō contains pretty much the same amount of probiotics you’ll get from supplements or probiotic-rich food, according to Healthline.
2. Promotes Heart Health
The probiotics and fibres in nattō help to decrease cholesterol level as well as the risk for heart diseases. According to Japanese researchers, nattō produces nattokinase, a type of enzyme that can dissolve blood clots and strengthen heart tissues. Nattokinase can also lower blood pressure.
Besides, vitamin K2 in nattō can clean up the calcium deposits in the arteries, lowering the risk of vascular damage. Along with the nattokinase, fibres and probiotics, they unite to form a powerhouse to make your heart healthier.
3. Contributes To Stronger Bones
Nattō contains vitamin K2 and calcium.
Calcium is the main mineral found in your bones and teeth and calcium keeps them healthy and strong. It is a mineral that is crucial in carrying out many important functions such as muscle contractions.
Vitamin K2, on the other hand, activates bone-building proteins and reduce the chance of bone fractures by 60 to 81 per cent, according to studies.
4. Strengthens The Immune System
The probiotics in nattō hinder the growth of harmful bacteria in the body, reduce the risk for infections, and also help you to recover from sickness faster.
In addition, nattō is also rich in vitamin C, iron, zinc, selenium and copper. All of these contribute to a healthy immune system.
Other Benefits of Nattō
Nattō is surprisingly good for the skin, as stated by Umami Insider. It may improve brain health, reduce the risk of several cancers, and most importantly, optimises weight loss!
How To Eat It?
Stirring is key!
You can smell the heavy soybean flavour right after you open the package. By removing the thin layer of plastic, you will feel the sticky texture of the nattō, which lowkey grosses some people out. *goosebumps*
Pour the two packages of the unique soy/sweet sauce and the Japanese mustard into it, and give it a good stir. The Japanese usually use chopsticks for stirring, but if you want to use a fork or a spoon it’s fine.
Voila! There you have it!
Always stir it well like how Crayon Shin Chan did, so that the sauces are coated around every single bean. Remember to keep your natto inside the refrigerator and keep it sealed. It is best to consume when it is cold.
Types Of Nattō
Natto is usually packaged in a tiny square-sized polystyrene foam box. There are also many types of nattō varying from their sizes, ranging from big O-tsubu nattō to the crushed, pulverized Hikiwari nattō.
According to Japanese blogger Tomo, there are six types of natto based on their sizes:
If you are going to be a first-timer to try nattō, go for the smaller sized ones. The flavour is not as strong and easier to be consumed.
Where Can You Get Nattō?
In Malaysia, you can get nattō in a few places, which are the Shojikiya outlets, Cold Storage outlets, and also via Shopee here.
Nattō is usually wrapped and sold in a stack of three. One stack costs around RM8.
Now that you know nattō is a superfood with so many health benefits, it is time to try it out! Though we cannot guarantee whether you will find it revolting or will absolutely love it… After all, it is like durian and coriander, not many people can tahan the smell of it.
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