Why should we include natto in our diet? What are the benefits of nattokinase? Natto is a preparation of legumes fermented by the bacteria Bacillus subtilis. It is usually made with soybeans but can be made with other legumes, such as white beans, black beans, and chickpeas.
What Is Nattokinase Good For?
Natto is widely consumed in Asia, especially in Japan. Much Japanese breakfast consists of rice with natto. We will look closely at its scientific evidence in this post: how this preparation is healthy and what benefits it has proven to bring us.
Does Nattokinase Really Work?
The nutritional benefits of nattokinase as a probiotic food are significant:
- It is the food richest in vitamin K. For this reason, it can potentially prevent cardiovascular and bone disease.
- Its high nattokinase content is of great interest and is being studied, above all, for its possible potential in the prevention and treatment of various coronary pathologies.
- It is an excellent source of CLA fatty acids.
- It has been shown that its consumption seems to be associated with a lower risk of mortality from cardiovascular disease.
- During fermentation, the isoflavone content increases. Therefore, natto is a food with good antioxidant activity.
- It is a food with a lot of digestibility since soy is fermented. The bioavailability of its proteins and certain trace elements is more significant as the phytate content is reduced.
Benefits Of Nattokinase: Natto And Vitamin K2
Natto is the most decadent food we find in menaquinone-7, which is a subtype of vitamin K2. There are two types of vitamin K: K1 (phylloquinones) and K2 (menaquinones). K1 is abundant in green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, chard, etc.), cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, and also in some fruits, specifically avocado, blueberries, dried figs, prunes, grapes, and the kiwi. If we also consume these foods with a fatty source, such as extra virgin olive oil, we will improve the absorption of vitamin K1 since it is fat-soluble.
The microbiota bacteria convert part of that vitamin K1 into vitamin K2 (menaquinones).
Benefits Of Nattokinase: Vitamin K2 In The Prevention Of Cardiovascular Disease
Vitamin K plays a fundamental role in blood clotting, especially K1. However, the rest of the functions of vitamin K are attributable to K2.
Vitamin K2-dependent proteins have been shown to act by reducing arterial calcification, which is very interesting in preventing cardiovascular disease. Several clinical studies have evaluated the effect of menaquinone-7 supplementation (which is abundant in natto) on cardiovascular health. However, vitamin K2 has a promising future in preventing cardiovascular disease. There is not enough evidence to indicate that supplementation of this vitamin is necessary. Therefore, as always, it is best to obtain it through diet.
Benefits Of Nattokinase: Vitamin K2 And Bone Health
On the other hand, vitamin K2 also plays an essential role in bone health since it is necessary to synthesize osteocalcin, the most abundant non-collagenous protein in bones. Therefore, vitamin K2 is being studied for its possible protective role in reducing bone loss. In a meta-analysis published in 2015, in which randomized clinical trials involving more than 6,000 participants were evaluated, it was concluded that vitamin K2 played a protective role against hip fracture and helped maintain and improve bone density in women with osteoporosis. However, this association was not seen in women who did not have osteoporosis.
Therefore, vitamin K2 plays a protective role against cardiovascular disease and bone disease, although it is true that more studies need to be carried out to confirm this.
Does Nattokinase Really Work?
A study published in 2016 in the Journal of American Clinical Nutrition, carried out in the Department of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology at Gifu University (Japan), concluded that natto consumption was associated with a lower risk of mortality and disease cardiovascular (8) and seems to be one of the foods involved in the longevity of the Japanese population.
The Importance Of The Enzyme Nattokinase
One of the components of natto that is most interesting about cardiovascular disease is nattokinase. This enzyme has antithrombotic, antihypertensive, anti-atherosclerotic, lipid-lowering, and anticoagulant activity and appears to have a neuroprotective action. For these reasons, nattokinase is a compound of great interest, especially its cardiovascular benefits. Therefore, it could have the potential to become, in the future, a promising alternative to various drugs used in cardiovascular pathologies. Furthermore, the consumption of natto seems to have a beneficial action on bone health.