Eat Natto, Live Longer?

Men and women who ate fermented soy products like natto, miso and tempeh had lower rates of cardiovascular disease and early death.

Comments: 41

  1. I’ve seen in dozens of places the claim that you get the same benefits from vitamin k2, but I don’t know if it’s true.

  2. Natto is one of the best sources of vitamin K2.

  3. I’ve heard it takes a special sort of person to eat natto. Maybe the type that would live longer anyway.

  4. @Dr. J Thanks for your comment--it made me laugh a little and probably added .0423 years to my life.

  5. @Dr. J It doesn't look too appealing.

  6. @Dr. J, pretty sure its the same sort who can knock back a drink with a raw egg in it without so much as a grimace. Hearty souls indeed.

  7. I wonder—seriously—if we stopped worrying so much about what we eat we would lower our stress levels and live longer.

  8. @SB There is a great deal of nutritional information out there. If you can purchase, prepare and dine on foods with prevention in mind, after time it becomes seamless. Its not 'worry,' its about looking at diet as my first 'health insurance'. And its all delicious. Even scary looking natto. I don't think about how long I'll live, just how well I feel.

  9. I highly recommend Natto. It can easily be purchased at any Asian supermarket. I typically eat it with a little sesame oil and mustard. It is an acquired taste, but the health benefits are obvious.

  10. While commonly eaten with rice, there are recipes to put it on toast. Many brands sell it with a small packet of mustard that goes well with it.

  11. I eat pretty much anything and Natto is tasteless.

  12. What the article does not mention, is natto is a vitamin K2 powerhouse. If you supplement vitamin D3 it is imperative you also you consume vitamin K2 foods. Vitamin K2 acts like a taxi, picking up vitamin D3 in your bloodstream and delivering it to where it is needed. We consume smoothies 3 times a week with spinach, wild blueberries, walnuts, plain yogurt, emergenC packs and natto. when you blend them well all the natto sliminess disappears! In our 60's, not on meds, haven't had cold/flu in 10 years since on this delicious regimen.

  13. Natto is indeed a nutritional powerhouse. Please don't be turned off by its slippery/slimy qualities, though. Our preferred way of eating it is to stir it well, then had a dab of mustard, a splash of soy sauce, and stir again. Top with lots of chopped scallions and finish with a good squiggle Kewpie mayonnaise on top. Eaten like this, or atop hot rice, it is a delicious go-to breakfast or snack.

  14. besides K2 Natto has spermidine, which works on SIRT1 to extend life (check studies by Guido Kraemer et al.). Combine it with resveratrol and it doubles the potency. As for taste, it is a splash of unusual in your daily palette of tastes, I've been eating it for 5-6 years now. Slight umami. But don't go crazy with it, you will get heart dysrhythmia from too much K2. One little styrofoam pack a day is enough.

  15. Maybe, maybe not. There's a lot of room for a 10% or 18% difference not being real when there's so much else about the high and low groups that's unknown. "After controlling for other diet components, hypertension, diabetes, smoking, alcohol intake and other factors, the researchers found ..."

  16. I had natto twice. The first time, I couldn't get it out of my mouth fast enough. The second time confirmed that I was right the first time. My Japanese ex-wife loves the stuff.

  17. Natto is an acquired taste. It is slimy, as okra is, but it can become addictive. It is great for helping a digestive imbalance, adding good bacteria to the gut, as other fermented foods do. Give it a shot. It is easier to pick up if served with rice. I like it mixed with Asian yellow mustard, soy, mirin , & scallions.

  18. @Leslie My father is Nisei, second born Japanese born on the US and my mother born in Japan. My mother and I came in 1957 to join my father in San Francisco. My father’s diet was definitely a western diet and my mother’s completely Japanese. I grew up with her Japanese diet. My mother ate Natto at dinner and cooked like spaghetti for my father. My father would say could you eat the Natto in another room cause of the smell, an acquired smell and taste. Well my mother stopped buying natto and buying okra. She would chop up raw okra, chopped green onions, add soy sauce, mix it up and add it over rice.

  19. Most people are exposed to poorly made, highly ammoniated natto created by B.subtilis. The ammonia is inevitable if the natto is over cultivated. The stringy sliminess is completely avoidable if treated properly. Mash it up with an avocado or with miso before adding it to soup or a salad dressing. It makes area truffles with chocolate. It also come in dehydrated, powdered form. We use it all the time in morning coffee.

  20. In a word: macrobiotics

  21. I'm going to try some natto ASAP, but I wonder if any MD might comment on its K2 content for those on blood thinners?

  22. I’m addicted to the stuff. It’s definitely an acquired taste, but once you get hooked, it’s strangely delightful. Highly recommend it in a rice casserole with lots of crunchy veggies.

  23. I remember reading that the Japanese had a much higher rate of stomach cancer than the US from eating these products. Is that still true?

  24. @Richard, My Uncles and Aunties are Japanese all except one. All of my Uncles have succumbed to some form of cancer. I have one Uncle who was alcoholic ate natto, tofu, abulage, loved tofu products. He got stomach cancer, had part of his stomach removed and still drank. When I talked to him, he thought that tofu products saved his life. He thought that white rice was what the culprit and what caused his cancer. He ate a real Japanese diet of white rice, miso soup, fish and pickles and variations.

  25. @Ria Kaneko "He thought that white rice was what the culprit (sic) and what caused his cancer. " With all due respect, why should we buy what he's putting down here? Though it is true that white rice contains arsenic, although not as much as brown rice... I wonder, does arsenic cause cancer, specifically stomach cancer?

  26. It’s true that Japan has a higher rate of stomach cancer but the likely cause is cigarettes, which most of the male population consumed heavily until smoking was outlawed in Tokyo several years ago. Second-hand smoke is even more likely to cause stomach cancer.

  27. My breakfast recipe small bowl of steamed rice poached egg (optional) natto chopped scallions small amount of soy sauce on top.

  28. The real value of natto is for osteoporosis. It is the largest natural source of vitamin K2 by far and also has other important nutrients like PQQ (not included in K2 supplements). K2 is a calcium regulator - it seems to move calcium out of the arteries and into the bones. Worth reading more about it. I think it is the single most critical food people should eat and has a 1200 year pedigree. As far as eating is concerned, I avoid stirring it though that is a standard move in Japan. The taste is sort of earthy, some say pungent but probably less than beer, onions or peanut butter. Get it at Asian stores in the freezer section. Thaw, pile some rice over it, adding a generous helping of Dijon mustard with soy sauce and green onions.

  29. Wonderful, helpful comments here on how to eat natto. I am unfamiliar with it. I love the taste that miso brings to dishes. However, it makes me a little woozy. Then I read that fermented soybean products produce allergic reactions in some people. I don't have any patent allergy problems. However, miso gives me a funny feeling. I will try natto.

  30. @Wordsworth from Wadsworth perhaps most fermented products contain sufficient histamine to cause unpleasant reactions/symptoms in some people.

  31. I don’t mind the taste or the sliminess; it’s the smell of natto that bothers me. And I’m Japanese! I’ve learned to like kusaya, fermented fish that smells like an outhouse, and will even eat durian, fruit that smells like garbage. But something about the smell of natto...

  32. I like natto, and eat it when I can. Lots of Vitamin K2. What troubles me with this report is the not very helpful caveat that this is an "observational" study and thus proves (essentially) nothing. That kind of statement ought to be banned. I urge Mr. Bakalar to just read at least a little of The Book Of Why by Judea Pearl. The point is that this mantra about cause and effect, etc is just manifestly simplistic and wrong. Even worse, of course is the problem with industry funded and unrepeatable "proof" of nutritional and drug tests promoted by the drug business. See "John Ioannidis - Wikipedia." The point is that "proving" any of this is EXTREMELY difficult. so what this observational study has done IS ABOUT AS GOOD AS WE ARE LIKELY TO GET, in terms of proof. You might as well embrace, and learn to love, the uncertainty. It's not likely to change anytime soon

  33. I try to eat a tablespoon of organic Miso paste a day for gut microbiome health. Miso Master is an excellent brand. I buy it at Whole Foods. It is organic and non-gmo, important for Soy. Makes great Miso soup as well. I love almost all Japanese food but did not find Natto palatable when I had it many years ago in a Hand Roll. I will try it again though.

  34. I live in Japan and eat Natto 2-3 times a day. I mix it with mekabu, kimchi, black vinegar and chinese yam. A little bit of light soy sauce doesn't go astray either. I mix the whole lot up to my in-laws horror and stack it on the home grown rice.... Yummy. I wash it down with a couple of glasses of green tea and I'm good to go.

  35. Unmentioned is the fact that natto is a bit of a blood thinner, so folks already taking a blood thinning medication probably should avoid it like the plague. And, it seems plausible that this blood thinning is what reduces cardiac deaths.

  36. @Samuel Yaffe It's a source of K2 MK7 which is used by the body to put calcium in the correct places.

  37. My father said that during the war they discovered Natto created antibodies fighting TB.

  38. I had no idea natto was a health food. What a nice bonus since I love the stuff. Add some sesame oil, ponzu sauce and the little mustard packet the comes with it and roll it up in some nori and yum! My wife can't stand the smell, but it doesn't bother me in the least. Yay for natto!

  39. I'm quite an adventurous eater and tried natto while staying with friends in Tokyo. It was 15 years ago and I haven't had it since. I would.....I just had no reason to seek it out again. For me it was mostly a texture thing (slimy doesn't work well for me: some eggplant & okra preparations, for example). I've had delicious calf-brain, for example -- it was lightly fried, nice and crispy and perfect. Had they been mushy....no chance. But I'd definitely try natto again, especially if in Japan.

  40. I was introduced to natto during a college Japanese class. My sensei said she enjoyed it with some finely chopped kimchi. I didn't care much for it but decided I'd give it another try while studying abroad in Tokyo. Now I eat it regularly! Upon the recommendation of a Japanese friend, I started to add a raw egg yolk and some thinly sliced green onions, on top of the two sauce packets that come with most natto. Swirl it around vigorously until it's really stringy (the neba neba), have it on top of a hot bowl of rice-- heaven!

  41. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1349-7006.2010.01770.x Fermented and non‐fermented soy food consumption and gastric cancer in Japanese and Korean populations: A meta‐analysis of observational studies "(...)despite the fact that Japanese and Korean populations generally have a high intake of soy foods, they also have a higher risk of GC than other populations, including those in the USA and Europe. This might be explained by the fact that Japanese and Korean populations consume more fermented soy foods than non‐fermented ones. Common fermented soy foods, which generally contain a high content of salt, include soy paste and fermented soybeans. There is a contradictory relationship between the intake of soy food and GC; GC risk increases with the intake of fermented soy foods and decreases with the intake of non‐fermented soy foods."