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11 Reasons To Eat Natto (Japanese Soybeans)

11 Reasons To Eat Natto (Japanese Soybeans)

Never heard of natto? Don’t worry, it hasn’t taken off in America the way sushi or sake have! Even so, this fermented soybean dish, traditionally eaten as a breakfast food in Japan for over 1,000 years, has a lot of health benefits to offer. Here are a few of those benefits.

1. You Get A Ton Of Protein

A single serving of natto will provide you with 15 mg of high-quality protein. This makes it a great choice if you follow a vegan diet, since protein can be harder to come by when it comes solely from plant-based sources.

2. You Will Load Up On Vitamin K

Vitamin K is an important nutrient, but there are few natural sources of it — and natto is one of the best. One of the most important functions of vitamin K is that it reduces the chances of abnormal blood clots which can lead to serious events like heart attacks and strokes.

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3. You Will Fill Up On A Probiotic-Rich Food

Many people have a growing interest in fermented foods because they are a rich and natural source of probiotics — the healthy bacteria that lives in your gut and helps not only to improve your digestion, but also to strengthen your immune system, making it easier to fight off illness and disease.

4. You Can Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation is a big problem for many Americans. It can increase the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Natto has been shown to help decrease inflammation and strengthen the immune system, making it a great choice for people with autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.

5. You Can Eat It Even If You Are Sensitive To Soy

Some people love soy but find that it is hard on their stomachs. These people should definitely try out natto. This is because the fermentation process has helped to break down those hard-to-digest proteins and this makes it a great choice for people who are sensitive to other forms of soy.

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6. You Will Have Stronger Bones

Natto is a rich source of a specific form of vitamin K called K2. Vitamin K2 is especially important for women who want to keep their bones strong and healthy, and it has been shown to reduce post-menopausal bone loss by a whopping 80%. This is because vitamin K2 makes it easier for calcium to move into the bones.

7. You Will Have A Healthier Heart

Natto can help your heart in many ways. The vitamin K2, which moves calcium into the bones, also moves it out of the heart. Compounds in natto have also been shown to help lower blood pressure and prevent abnormal clotting of the blood.

8. You Will Also Get A Ton Of Calcium And Iron

Calcium and iron are arguably two of the most important minerals for your health: calcium helps your bones and teeth stay healthy and strong, while iron goes into making the hemoglobin in the red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. For vegans, this is another reason to load up on the natto — calcium and iron can be difficult to get from an entirely plant-based diet.

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9. You Can Eat It On A Gluten-Free Diet

If you are sensitive or allergic to gluten, relax! This soy product is naturally free of gluten and is a great addition to the diet if you have either of these conditions.

10. You Will Load Up On Fiber

Dietary fiber is incredibly important for your health: it helps to improve your digestive system and avoid problems like constipation. A high-fiber diet has also been associated with better heart health and a reduced risk of colon cancer.

11. You Can Make a Ton of Dishes From It!

Whether its bruschetta, veggie burgers, California rolls, or sandwiches, there are an amazing variety of dishes you can make from this unusual food. Some of these recipes are traditional and some have been adapted for Western tastes — but they all taste great!

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So, now that you know about all the amazing health benefits of natto, get out to your local health food or Asian food store and try some today. It truly is one of the healthiest foods you can be enjoying right now.

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Brian Wu

Health Writer, Author

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Last Updated on August 12, 2019

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory and brain power:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate: 15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

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Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko Biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

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However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and Black Tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here: 11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

More About Boosting Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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