what is natto?


a unique fermented superfood

Natto is fermented with a probiotic bacterial species (Bacillus subtilis) that promotes gastrointestinal health and is also rich in compounds shown to support cardiovascular (nattokinase) and bone health (vitamin K2).

Natto is loved for its unique flavor and aroma -- savory, umami-rich and pungent (quite similar to a deliciously stinky cheese).  As a living food, natto is full of active probiotic culture, and as with other naturally fermented foods (e.g. wine, cheese, sauerkraut), the taste of natto evolves and intensifies with time.  Freshly made natto has a milder flavor than natto that has been aged for a few weeks.

No description of natto would be complete without mentioning its uniquely sticky texture. Neba-neba is a Japanese word to describe the sticky, stringy, wispy film that coats natto beans.  In Japan, the more "neba-neba", the better the natto.  In fact, standard practice is to vigorously stir natto before eating to increase neba-neba!

An ancient japanese tradition

For over a thousand years, natto has been a staple food in Japan, long revered for its nutritive value and many health benefits.

Natto is thought to have been discovered by warring samurai more than a thousand years ago. As the story goes, when a group of samurai were forced to ride in the middle of their meal, they hastily stored their warm rice into makeshift bundles of straw. This straw carried the beneficial Bacillus subtilis bacterium. After a day of riding, the samurai were surprised to discover that their rice had undergone a tasty transformation! 




Today, natto remains a popular breakfast, snack or side dish, typically eaten with a bowl of rice.

Ubiquitous in Japan, natto is virtually unknown elsewhere. Natto is the food that Japanese grannies always tell their grandchildren to eat because it is "good for you", and many recent scientific discoveries support this idea.