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Nutritional Value of Natto

By Michele Turcotte, MS, RD

Natto is a 1,000-year-old Japanese dietary staple made from soybeans that have been soaked and fermented. The resulting product is sticky and has a stringy, web-like consistency. Though for many an acquired taste, this popular food may be served with a bit of sugar over rice for breakfast or as a mixed dish with shredded radishes and spicy or tangy sauces. Natto is extremely nutritious--high in omega-3 fats, protein as well as a dozen vitamins and minerals.

Basic Nutrition Values

A 100 g serving of natto provides about 212 calories, 11 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 18 g protein, 14 g carbohydrates, 5 g sugars or 1.25 tsp., 5 g dietary fiber, 0 mg cholesterol and 0 mg sodium. The macronutrient breakdown for natto is approximately 45 percent calories from fat, 34 percent calories from protein and 25 percent calories from carbohydrates.

Omega-3 Fats and Protein

Natto is a good food source of omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid. A 100 g serving provides 734 mg. According to an article published in "Cardiovascular Psychiatry and Neurology" in September 2009, omega-3 fatty acids show promise in preventing and treating cardiovascular diseases and depression due to their cardioprotective, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects.

A 100 g serving of natto provides 18 g protein and is a vegan, or meat-free source of high-quality protein. Protein is important for building body tissues and muscle.

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Vitamins

Natto is rich in the B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavin and vitamins C and K meeting 11, 11, 22 and 29 percent of the Recommended Daily Value, DV, for each nutrient per 100 g serving, respectively. Thiamin is important for a proper nervous system function and, along with riboflavin, helps convert food into energy. Riboflavin is also necessary for hormone production and proper function of brain chemicals, or neurotransmitters, such as serotonin. Vitamin C supports a healthy immune system and supports thyroid function, and vitamin K is essential for normal blood clotting and plays a role in bone formation.

Major Minerals

Major minerals are needed by our bodies in quantities greater than 100 mg daily. Natto is an excellent food source of phosphorus, calcium, potassium and magnesium, meeting 17, 21, 22 and 29 percent of the DV for each, respectively. Phosphorus, calcium and magnesium are all essential for healthy, strong bones and teeth. Calcium, magnesium and potassium play an important role in regulating blood pressure.

Trace Minerals

Trace minerals are needed by the human body in quantities less than 100 mg daily. Natto is rich in manganese, iron, copper and zinc, meeting 76, 48, 33 and 20 percent of the DV for each, respectively. Manganese helps with energy metabolism, aids in the formation of connective tissue and supports brain function. Iron is needed for transporting oxygen-rich red blood cells and supports the immune system. Copper aids in collagen and elastin production, and helps the body absorb and utilize iron. Zinc is essential for wound healing, normal brain function and maintaining a healthy reproductive system.

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