Natto – A Japanese Delicacy

Article by: Roland Hoesslin

Natto is a wonder food, a superfood.  It is a Japanese delicacy particularly favoured by the residents of Tokyo and the mid-eastern region of Japan.  Natto is made from soya beans, first cooked and then fermented, resulting in a slimy, smelly and strongly flavoured food which can be eaten with rice, chopped onion or just with a little soya sauce additive.

As a wonder food, Natto is a good source of several minerals such as calcium, potassium, magnesium and iron.  It also contains several vitamins including Vitamin B2 (Carbs to energy), Vitamin B6 (healthy blood vessels & eyes) and Vitamin E (anti-oxidant & an antagonist of cholesterol);  Natto itself has no cholesterol content.

As a superfood, Natto is the richest food source of natural Vitamin K2 [1] and although the existence of Vitamin K2 has been known to the medical & biochemical professions since the late nineteen twenties /early thirties, it was only towards the end of the first decade of the second millennium that it was isolated.  In medical terms this is very ‘new’ ground;  it is not well documented from a scientific perspective as to how much the daily intake of Vitamin K2 should be.  What is commonly accepted is that Vitamin K2 is an essential nutrient – that means the body does not manufacture adequate quantities and its intake needs to be fortified by a supplement or foodstuff – and that’s where Natto plays an enormous role.

Vitamin K2 has, scientifically, been shown to activate two very important catalysts or enzymes within the human body.  One of these enzymes – only when activated by Vitamin K2 – deposits calcium in the bone matrix effectively, ensuring strong healthy bones; the other enzyme – once again, only when activated by Vitamin K2 – removes calcium from the blood and has even been shown to reduce plaque [2] deposition in the arteries, thereby ensuring a healthy heart and reducing the threat of peripheral vascular disease or PVD.  The mechanism to remove plaque deposits from the arteries naturally, is surely the holy grail of Vascular Surgeons?  Two of the main exponents of Vitamin K2 [3][4] have suggested in their books that the daily intake of Vitamin K2 should be in the region of 100 to 300 micrograms per day but this can be escalated safely to almost any amount as Vitamin K2 has shown no side effects with high daily dosages.[1]

This is where Natto comes to our rescue – modern, mass produced and / or processed foods are almost devoid of Vitamin K2 (you can read feedlots here, too!).  Many of us, who have exposed ourselves predominantly to this eating lifestyle, are Vitamin K2 deficient.  Consequently heart disease and osteoporosis are both a very real threat.  A 100g portion of Natto can contain up to 1100 micrograms of Vitamin K2 [3][4] so a 50g serving of Natto every day will give your body all the Vitamin K2 that it needs and will help to maintain healthy bones and blood vessels.   As was noted earlier, the human-based scientific study of Vitamin K2 is in its infancy but it has been demonstrated in a study with rabbits fed with high dosages of Vitamin K2 that not only was plaque formation suppressed, but every substance known to be associated with plaque formation that was tested, was suppressed as well.  Both the authors referenced have indicated that high dosages of Vitamin K2 can reverse plaque deposition in the arteries and thereby can improve arterial function.  That’s an incredibly powerful supplement!

This is what Natto can help you to achieve: healthy bones, healthy heart and healthy blood vessels.  As one author has put it – it may save your life! And the other says,"look after your blood vessels! Keep them healthy, and you will extend your life by 10 years or more."

[1]Vitamin K belongs to a group of fat soluble vitamins made up of Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E & Vitamin K1 and K2.  Vitamin K1 is not an essential nutrient since the body manufactures (and re-manufactures) adequate quantities as it is the trigger for blood coagulation or clotting; with a Vitamin K1 deficiency, uncontrolled bleeding may occur.  Warfarin is a drug that is fairly commonly used to enhance blood thinning and it interferes with the activity of Vitamin K. So, if you use this drug, you should not eat Natto!

[2] Arterial plaque or fibrous plaque is a deposit causing the narrowing of the arteries which may result in a heart attack or stroke.  These conditions are the cause of one of the highest levels of death in the Western World!  It can also cause clogging of the arteries in the legs (peripheral vascular disease or PVD) which can result in uncomfortable pain when walking short distances.  Arterial plaque is composed of fats, cell debris, collagen and calcium.  It is generally considered almost impossible to reverse this condition without surgery.

[3] Goodman MD, Dennis. Vitamin K2: The Missing Nutrient for Heart and Bone Health. Dr Dennis Goodman, MD, FACP, FACC, FCCP, graduated Cum Laude and with distinction from the University of Cape Town Medical School in Cape Town, South Africa in 1979. Dr Goodman is currently a Clinical Professor and the Director of Integrative Medicine at New York University. His area of special interest is prevention, early detection and treatment of cardiovascular disease with an integrative approach for optimal patient health care.

[4] Rheaume-Bleue,  Kate. Vitamin K2 And The Calcium Paradox: How a Little-Known Vitamin Could Save Your Life. Dr Kate Rhéaume-Bleu, N.D. who is a Canadian expert in natural medicine, graduated from McMaster University with an honours B.Sc. in Biology and completed her professional training at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in Toronto, in 2002.

Also visit www.vitaminK2.org