Japan Travel and Culture Guide
natto: the slimy, sticky, smelly, bad tasting food that japan loves
Natto: The Slimy, Sticky, Smelly, Bad Tasting Food That Japan Loves
posted by John Spacey, Japan Talk, June 23, 2012
Natto is made by fermenting soya beans. It smells bad and is extremely slimy. It also has a very strong taste. It's generally unpopular amongst foreigners in Japan.
Japanese people in Kansai (Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto) are also not particularly fond of Natto.
A Traditional BreakfastNatto has been around since 300 BC. In Feudal times, it was an important source of protein in the Japanese diet.
Natto is traditionally a breakfast food that's eaten with rice and miso soup. Hot mustard (karashi) and soy sauce are often mixed in to natto. A raw quail egg is also sometimes mixed in.
Other Natto FoodsNatto is a common ingredient of Japanese cuisine. For example, it's used in sushi such as this natto maki.
Natto is also incorporated into Japanese style western cuisine such as this natto spaghetti.
Anything That Tastes This Bad Must Be HealthyThe Japanese media often touts the health benefits of natto.
Natto has been credited with almost magical health benefits. It's supposed to reduce cholesterol, blood clots, heart attacks, pulmonary embolisms and strokes. It's also said to prevent balding in men, Alzheimer's disease, osteoporosis and cancer.
Other claims include that it reduces excessive immune reactions (e.g. allergies), is good for your skin and generally makes you younger.
Some of these claims are validated by preliminary medical research. Natto is chocked full of protein, probiotics, vitamin K and vitamin PQQ. It also contains a unique enzyme called nattokinase.
The possible health benefits of natto tend to be exaggerated by the Japanese media. In 2007, natto sales spiked after one television program reported that natto has dramatic weight loss benefits. They later admitted that they had falsified their data and apologized.
Natto Dog FoodNatto is a common ingredient in Japanese dog food because people also feel it's good for their pets.
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