Natto: The Most Amazing Food You’re Not Eating

Natto (Achiote)

The name “natto” comes from the word “na,” which means “and” or “together.” And it’s pronounced like the English words “nan-” and “-tay.” So, it literally translates into something like, “And-to-the-Tee.”

It was first discovered in Japan around 1000 B.C., but wasn’t widely used until the Edo period (1603–1868).

During that time, Japanese farmers began using it to make flour. They called it nanbato (“nan-bread”). Nanbato became so popular that it led to its own term, natto.

In 1872, American scientist William Henry Perkin discovered that when the starch in the root of the plant is heated at high temperatures, it turns into a sticky substance known as natto. Perkin named this new product “natto” after his home town of Nantucket.

Perkin’s discovery made it possible for Americans to start eating natto. But, it didn’t become a staple food until the 20th century.

Why Eat Natto?

Natto is rich in protein and fiber. It contains vitamins A, C, E and K2; iron; calcium; magnesium; manganese and phosphorus. It also provides other minerals such as potassium, sodium and copper.

Natto’s sticky texture comes from a compound called nattokinase. This substance dissolves blood clots and makes it easier for the blood to circulate. That’s why it’s also used as a treatment for stroke and heart attack.

Natto is fermented with the help of bacteria called Bacillus subtilis natto. In the olden days, farmers had to wait for this process to happen naturally over a few days. But, with modern technology, the process can be sped up.

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Nattokinase is a popular supplement used by people who have had coronary bypass surgery or are at high risk of getting heart disease. It dissolves blood clots and makes it easier for blood to circulate.

Where to Buy Natto?

You can find natto at most Japanese or Asian grocery stores. It’s either sold in a jar or a bag. If you’re buying the former, make sure it hasn’t passed the expiration date. The latter is easy to use, all you have to do is put some in a bowl and slowly heat it up.

If you can’t find natto, you can buy nattokinase supplements. Look for them at a local health food store.

What is Nattokinase?

Nattokinase is an enzyme found in fermented soybean called natto. It can break down blood clots and inflammation. It’s most commonly used as a blood thinner and cardiovascular health supplement.

Some people take nattokinase supplements to prevent hardening of the arteries and blood clots. This condition is known as atherosclerosis.

Nattokinase supplements increase blood flow by preventing blood clots from forming. It dissolves dangerous clots that have already formed, too. Doctors prescribe it for people who’ve had an acute coronary syndrome (ACS).

An ACS is a heart attack caused by a blood clot. It can also be used to prevent a future heart attack.

Nattokinase supplements are also beneficial for people who’ve had a peripheral vascular disease (PVD) or intermittent claudication, which affects leg circulation.

This supplement may also be beneficial for people with blood-clotting disorders. Nattokinase prevents the formation of blood clots by helping the blood not to clot so easily.

How Do You Take It?

While you can buy it at most health food stores, nattokinase is available as a prescription drug in tablet form. It comes as standard capsules of 3,000 FU (fibrinolytic units). You should take one capsule daily with a large glass of water. If you’ve just had a heart attack or were recently diagnosed with a blood-clotting disorder, your doctor may prescribe a higher dosage.

Nattokinase supplements are also available online. You can buy them as either capsules or a liquid.

Can You Overdose on It?

Nattokinase is not known to have any side effects, even when taken in high doses. You shouldn’t take more than the recommended dosage within any given day. If you’re allergic to soy, you may have an allergic reaction to nattokinase or natto soybeans. Pregnant women or women who are nursing should not take this supplement.

Nattokinase is not suitable for people with a bleeding disorder. If you have a blood clotting disorder like hemophilia, talk to your doctor before taking nattokinase. It may worsen your current condition.

If you have a PVD or intermittent claudication, this supplement will not increase your blood flow enough to make walking pain-free. Instead, it works by preventing dangerous clots from forming and keeping ones that have already formed from getting worse.

Nattokinase contains blood-thinning properties. If you’re taking a prescription blood thinner, talk to your doctor before taking this supplement. It may not be safe for you to use.

How Fast Does It Work?

The effects of nattokinase are not immediate. You should take this supplement on a daily basis to thicken your blood over a period of several weeks.

Nattokinase supplements are not a substitute for other treatments. You should take this supplement in addition to other medical therapies advised by your doctor. Taking this supplement may also increase your risk of bleeding, especially if you’re taking other blood thinners.

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This supplement isn’t suitable for everyone. If you have a bleeding disorder or are taking a blood thinner, talk to your doctor before using nattokinase. It may not be safe for you.

Sources & references used in this article:

Cooking with Fermented Soy Products: A Guide for Eating Natto, Tempeh and More by A Natto –

Becoming Animal: Contemporary Art in the Animal Kingdom by N Thompson – 2015 – Melville House

Miso, Tempeh, Natto & Other Tasty Ferments: A Step-by-Step Guide to Fermenting Grains and Beans by N Thompson, C Cox – 2005 –

The Superfood-Based Solution To Superior Heart Health Product Categories by KK Shockey, C Shockey – 2019 –

The runaway general by VRP Staff –