Natto is a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans. The beans are soaked overnight, steamed for about an hour, dusted with powdered Bacillus subtilis , then left to ferment for about 24 hours.
A good friend of mine who grew up eating and loving natto has been trying to get me to try it forever. “It’s so good for you. In Japan we like to eat it with a little honey and bread, or with rice and a raw egg on top”! However, the look of it (stretchy), and his subtle delight in seeing my contorted expressions at the thought of ingesting this stinky food (with an odor likened to ripe cheese) have kept me at bay.
Recently, I came across some very impressive health benefits of natto that have made me reconsider. If you don’t develop a taste for the pungent stuff, or like me, are afraid to try it in all its stinky glory… you’re in luck– now Nattokinase comes in supplement form. Some reputable brands that are made with non-GMO soybeans include Allergy Research Group, Life Extension, Now Foods, and Doctor’s Best.
Nattokinase is a protease enzyme isolated from Natto. Protease enzymes digest protein. Lipase enzymes digest lipids/ fat, and amylase enzymes digest starch; -ase indicates an enzyme.
Natto or its enzyme nattokinase (NK) may be used as a functional food in the following ways:
-To improve circulation/ blood flow. NK works very similarly to aspirin, as an anti-coagulant/ blood thinner . This may be useful to those with cardiovascular disease (CVD), high blood pressure, and blood clots.
-NK has shown potential to enter the blood stream  when taken orally, dissolving protein-rich amyloid deposits in various parts of the body . Anyone interested in taking proactive measures against Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions could benefit from supplementation. Amyloid deposits have also been tied to some autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis, and Type 2 Diabetes.*
*disorders that stem from an accumulation of proteins may be linked to the over-consumption of animal proteins, as in the American (SAD) diet. A reduction in animal-based protein intake, combined with a high quality protease enzyme supplement may prove helpful in any of the above conditions.
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