There has been a massive growth in the number of fermented foods available on the market in the last few years, thanks to the growing belief around their numerous potential health benefits. If you were not aware, fermented foods have benefits for cognitive function, gut health, weight loss, and even immune function. And one particular fermented food that has garnered rave reviews across the globe is Japanese Natto! But what does Natto taste like?
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So, what does Natto taste like?
Because Natto is made by intentionally fermenting soybeans and adding the Bacillus subtilis to the mixture, Natto has a rather acquired taste. It has a unique texture and smell. While it can be hard to describe Natto’s taste in words, Natto somehow tastes like old cheese. The taste might also vary depending on how you consume it. But generally, the taste is excellent!
Like any other fermented food, Natto’s taste might feel unpleasant at first, but the more you try, the more you’ll fall in love with it. Natto boasts a highly unique smell, texture, and taste. Because of its unique stickiness, taste, and texture, Natto is a food that not everyone is going to love. However, not only is Natto highly nutritious and healthy, but many people out there are already eating Natto! And thanks to its possibly endless health benefits, you have every reason to incorporate this legendary Japanese cuisine into your daily diet.
But what is Natto?
Originating from Asia, Natto is a Japanese fermented soybeans and has been a popular cuisine for thousands of years, usually as a breakfast food eaten with soy sauce, chives, rice, and mustard. These beans are brought to fermentation by bacteria and are then aged for about seven days. And during the fermentation process, the carbohydrates are converted into alcohol or acid. Natto is known for its pungent odor, strong flavor as well as slimy or stringy texture.
In ancient times, this fantastic superfood was prepared using rice straws as the source of fermenting the B. subtilis bacteria. Many straws were essentially wrapped around the boiled beans and subsequently incubated in a somewhat warmer environment to ferment. While other remote areas in Japan still make their Nattos using this conventional technique, this method is no longer employed in commercial Natto production.
Perhaps this is mainly because, during the early twentieth century, scientists identified and isolated the bacteria responsible for fermenting the soybeans implying that the bacteria could now be easily incorporated into cooked beans to initiate fermentation. Natto boasts an incredible nutritional profile of high protein, vitamin K, and large amounts of gut-health bacteria.
What to eat Natto with
There are several varieties of Natto, which can be distinguished by the size and type of the soybean used and the processing method. But regardless of the type of Natto you’ve got, whether homemade or purchased, there are many ways you can take advantage of this powerful superfood.
Traditionally, this amazing food was usually served as a topping to rice with some mustard and vegetables. However, as already mentioned, there are many ways to enjoy Natto, and anything can be good as long as you love it. To be more precise, you can add your Natto to other popular dishes such as omelets, sushi, pasta, pizza, veggie burgers, bruschetta, or toast to match your desired taste. While most people eat Natto by itself, but usually it’s consumed with rice or other dishes.
You can also eat these popular Japanese fermented soybeans once sprouted, making them great as a salad garnish. And thanks to its high versatility, Natto can equally be added to a range of Japanese dishes such as soba, which are buckwheat noodles, okonomiyaki, a cabbage-based savory pancake, or even tempura, which is a light rice flour batter.
And if you are looking to boost the overall flavor of your Natto, you can add some Okra! What’s more, if you don’t find the smell of Natto inviting, you can try adding a spoon of sesame oil to induce a beautiful aroma.
Is Natto the same as miso?
Though they share a few similarities, these two foods are not the same. First and foremost, whereas Natto is usually prepared in hours or at most a day, the process involved in the preparation of miso is a bit time-consuming, and you’ll need at least a week to make it. During this process, the soybeans and barley or rice are all inoculated inside a highly regulated environment before being mashed together and put in special cans or tanks where they can stay for years!
Also, unlike Natto, where only a single culture is used to ferment the soybeans, the preparation of miso involves using several microorganisms. Soybeans are the sole ingredient in Natto, whereas miso is made using numerous ingredients (soybeans, rice, and barley) depending on the miso you are looking to prepare. In Japanese cuisine culture, Natto is mainly taken during breakfast. On the other hand, miso is used to prepare miso soup.
How much Natto should you eat?
Natto is generally considered a superfood for many reasons, including nutritional and potential health benefits. And in terms of nutritional value, a cup of Natto, which is roughly 175 grams, provides 369 calories, 19.2g, 12.2mg of sodium, 22.2g of carbohydrates, 9.5g of fiber, 8.6g of sugars, and 34g of protein. What’s more, it is high in fiber, antioxidant phytochemicals, and essential minerals and vitamins, including vitamins K and C, iron, potassium, zinc, magnesium, copper, calcium, manganese, and selenium.
While most people will tolerate moderate amounts of Natto, eating more than a few servings of this amazing superfood might potentially cause some side effects in some people. Of course, you may need to consult your healthcare provider if you are concerned that your Natto consumption exceeds what’s considered healthy for your body.
What are the health benefits of Natto?
As you already know, Natto is highly nutritious. It is filled with optimal levels of many essential nutrients that are crucial for good health. It is incredibly healthy and nutritious because soybeans have been allowed to ferment, thereby creating the perfect or ideal conditions that allow probiotics to thrive.
In case you didn’t know, probiotics are essential microorganisms that guarantee many health benefits. Below are some of the proven health benefits of Natto:
- Promotes a healthy digestion process: Your gut system is filled with millions of microorganisms. And to create a good gut environment in your body, you must have the appropriate bacteria. And the right bacteria not only help in promoting healthy digestion but also helps protect your body against both toxins and unwanted microorganisms.
- May help build healthier bones: Natto is also rich in various nutrients that are vital for bone health. It contains adequate amounts of calcium, which is the major mineral component in human bones.
- Plays a significant role in cardiovascular health: Natto also promotes heart health, mainly because it features essential ingredients that have been proven to minimize the amounts of cholesterol in your body and lower one’s risk of high blood pressure.
- May play a role in overall sinus health: Chronic sinusitis is unending inflammation in your sinuses that could be caused by bacteria, allergies, asthma, or even fungal infections. It is the most common chronic disease among adults. Research tends to show that Nattokinase may help shrink blockage that causes nasal polyps and mucus, thereby improving airflow and minimizing discomfort.
- It can boost your immune system: As already explained, Natto contains numerous nutrients that have been proven to boost immunity. Natto is particularly rich in beneficial microorganisms which contribute to healthy gut flora. And consequently, healthy gut flora plays a vital role in curbing the growth of harmful bacteria and may also help your body produce natural antibodies. What’s more, these microorganisms further minimize your risk of life-threatening infections and may also help boost your recovery time in the event of sickness.
- It is great for weight loss: If you are overweight, it is high time you incorporate Natto into your weight loss regimen. The fiber and microorganisms content of it has been proven to play a role in shedding excess weight.
- Studies also show that it may lower your risk of cancer-related diseases: This is because it’s high in vitamin K2 and soy isoflavones, both of which have been proven to help with prostate, liver, breast, and digestive cancers.
Where to buy Natto
You can find Natto at a growing number of interactive health clinics, Asian supermarkets, and retail food stores. And you can also order your Natto from Amazon and other reputable online food stores. Below are a few of our favorites from Amazon.
How to make Natto at Home
It is also important to mention that today, making Natto is relatively straightforward and budget-friendly, provided you have the right ingredients at your disposal. Please have a look at this great video I found on Homemade Natto.
Whether bought or homemade, Natto remains an extremely nutritious food filled with endless health benefits! It will boost your immune system, cognitive function, heart health, and help your digestion, and may also play a vital role in your weight loss journey.