Natto is a staple food that many people in Japan eat. It is a type of fermented soybean, and is unique for its stickiness, smell, and flavor. The natto yeast added to soybeans for fermentation causes the beans to become sticky and produce strings of natto with a pungent smell and strong flavor. These may seem off-putting to first timers, but it’s key to many health benefits. Here are 11 among the many reasons you should start eating it today.

1. It keeps your hormones balanced


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A substance called isoflavones in soybeans helps in the regulation of hormone release by acting like the female hormone estrogen.

2. It aids in healthy blood circulation


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Lecithin in soybeans prevents cholesterol from building up on blood vessel walls. It also increases the “good” cholesterol, HDL (high density lipoprotein).

3. It strengthens the immune system


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Saponin is an important ingredient for white blood cells that make up your immune system to be active, allowing the immune system to be stronger.

4. It’s a great source of protein


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Soybeans are rich in protein and contain 18 out of the 20 total amino acids that make up the protein in our bodies.

5. It also contains dietary fiber


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Dietary fiber aids bowel movements by stimulating intestinal walls and increasing counts of good intestinal bacteria.

6. It promotes healthy and youthful skin


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Natto has lots of Vitamin E which helps balance water and oil in skin cells and improves overall skin conditions. It also eliminates active oxygen radicals which can damage skin cells.

7. It aids in the removal of waste products


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Polyglutamic acid in soybeans protects the stomach lining and enables the removal of toxic substances from the body.

8. It helps build healthy skin, nails, and hair


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Vitamin B2 found in natto is needed for the regeneration of cells, allowing for the growth of healthy skin, hair and nails.

9. It is essential as a bone strengthener


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Soybeans contain Vitamin K which strengthens bones by assisting in bone formation and also preventing calcium from being leached from bones.

10. It regulates intestinal conditions


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Natto yeast acidifies the intestinal environment, optimizing it for good intestinal bacteria.

11. It is helpful in maintaining overall health


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Natto yeast restricts the activity of bacteria and viruses, therefore it prevents colds and allows people to get the necessary nutrition and physical strength.

There are so many ways to eat natto. You can eat it as is, or add it to different recipes and dishes you might already frequently make. I personally eat it with a little dashi sauce, mustard and some mayo. I challenge you to give it a try and to come up with your favorite way to eat it. Who knows, maybe you’ll end up becoming obsessed!