Natto is produced by a fermentation process by adding Bacillus natto, which is
beneficial bacteria, to boiled or steamed soybeans.
The nutritive value of this food was so high that Samurai consumed it on a daily basis, and
even fed it to their horses to increase their speed and strength.
Much of the fanfare surrounding natto has to do with nattokinase, a fibrinolytic
(clot-busting) enzyme that was discovered by Dr. Hiroyuki Sumi, aka “Dr. Natto,”
in 1980 while he was working as a researcher at the University of Chicago. The
Bacillus natto acts on the soybeans, producing the nattokinase enzyme.
Dr. Sumi studied about 200 foods from around the world and found that natto has
the highest fibrinolytic activity of any food he studied. “There is no enzyme that
has a stronger fibrinolytic activity than nattokinase,” he said.2
Why is this so important?
Because blood clots that form inside your blood vessels restrict your blood flow,
and that can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
Whenever you are injured, your body naturally
releases compounds that convert a protein in
your blood called fibrinogen into fibrin. Fibrin
works like a spider web, forming long threads
that catch your red blood cells and other
substances to form a blood clot. If you’re
injured, this clot, or scab, stops the bleeding
and allows your body to heal.
After their work is done, your body’s clotting agents should disappear, and your
blood flow should return to normal. However, sometimes your body may form a
blood clot unnecessarily, and these are the dangerous kind.
Your body does produce an enzyme that breaks up fibrin naturally; it’s called
As you age, however, your body produces less plasmin and more fibrinogen. As
a result, your body will begin clotting more, and disintegrating the clots less, on
One of the most beneficial effects of nattokinase is that it has an extremely
powerful ability to disintegrate blood clots. The properties of nattokinase closely
resemble the fibrinolytic activity of your body’s natural enzyme, plasmin
You may have heard the misguided advice to take aspirin to prevent a heart
attack. This popular recommendation is based on the same principles, as aspirin is a blood thinner that may make your blood less likely to clot and block a
Natto Contains the Most Vitamin K2 of All Foods
Along with nattokinase, natto contains another amazingly profound nutrient
powerhouse: vitamin K2 (menaquinone).
Vitamin K2 is made by the bacteria that line your gastrointestinal tract, but as you
age, and also if you take antibiotics, the bacteria weakens and produces less
Vitamin K2, named for “Koagulation,” is essential for
proper blood clotting. It helps to prevent hardening of
your arteries, which is a common factor in coronary
artery disease and heart failure. Research suggests
that vitamin K may also help to keep calcium out of
your artery linings and other body tissues, where it can
Not only is vitamin K great for your heart, it’s absolutely
essential for building healthy bones as without it your
body will not optimally utilize calcium and vitamin D
and plug the calcium into your bone matrix.
The evidence supporting natto’s beneficial
impact on your bones, and its role in
preventing the bone disease osteoporosis,
is hard to ignore.
One 2006 study, for instance, found that
women who ate more than four packets of
natto per week (each packet contained
about 40 grams of natto) reduced bone
mass loss at the top of their thigh bone by
over 80 percent, and in their lower arm by 60 percent.3
Vitamin K2 is even more effective than calcium for your bones. In one study, 241
www.MERCOLA.com 4omen with osteoporosis were given either vitamin K2 or calcium each day for
two years. It turned out the women who received the vitamin K2 had maintained
lumbar bone mineral density, and experienced significantly fewer fractures.
So if you’re trying to fortify your diet with foods that will boost your bone health,
natto is quite possibly the best option there is. Eating one serving of natto is
actually the equivalent of taking eight capsules of the vitamin K2
Natto contains a bacteria called Bacillus Subtilis (B. subtilis), which is a powerful
probiotic (good bacteria). This is one of the primary reasons why I consume natto
on a regular basis as this is one of the best sources of this amazingly useful
Prior to World War II, the German army used this
probiotic to cure its soldiers of dysentery. While
Japanese soldiers also received this protective effect
(from eating natto), the German soldiers, during their
1941 African campaign, noticed that the local people
would eat warm camel and horse droppings to get rid of
After testing the droppings, German scientists found
out why the droppings worked to rid the body of harmful
pathogenic bacteria: it was full of B. subtilis.
Cultures of B. subtilis soon became known as one of the best treatments for
dysentery and intestinal problems, and they were sold by prescription under the
name Bacti-Subtil until the early 1960s when synthetic antibiotics were
Though B. subtilis is not widely used now in the United States, it is still being sold
by prescription in other countries such as Italy, France, Germany, and Vietnam.
Of course, you can get a hefty dose at a much lower price, and with no
prescription necessary, just by eating some natto. The benefits of B. subtilis are
many, and well make up for the pungent taste of the food
Soy products that are unfermented — soy milk, tofu, soybean oil, soy burgers,
and all the other processed soy products out there — are not health foods and I
strongly advise avoiding them.
In fact, unfermented soy products have been linked to everything from
reproductive disorders and infertility, to cancer and heart disease. If this surprises
you, please read my special report How to Get the Benefits of Soy… Without All
the Health Risks, available at www.Mercola.com.
Soy foods only become healthy after a long fermentation process, during which
the dangerous phytate and “antinutrient” levels of soybeans are reduced, and
their beneficial properties are made available to your digestive system.
The health benefits are found to be as good with natto, according to research conducted by a Japanese scientist who found natto had the highest fibrinolytic activity among 200 foods produced worldwide. About 15 years ago, that same scientist discovered an enzyme produced in the fermentation process, nattokinase, a powerful agent contained in the sticky part of natto that dissolves blood clots that lead to heart attacks, strokes and senility.
Natto also contains vitamin K2 and isophrabon, which help to prevent diseases such as osteoporosis and breast cancer and slow down the aging process.
first became a part of the Japanese culture
during the later part of the Edo Period
(1600–1868). During this period, soybeans
were packed in straw and buried underground for a week or more. A naturally
occurring bacillus in the straw facilitated
the soybean fermentation. The result was natto.