Nattō is a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans. It has an ammonia-like smell and mucus-like consistency that makes it polarising, even among people who grow up with it. A 2017 survey by Nifty, a Japanese internet service provider, found that only about 62% of Japanese people actually enjoy nattō. It also revealed that 13% actively dislike the taste. Regardless, many eat it anyway because of the health benefits.
The Japanese have long hailed nattō as a superfood and believe that consumption is linked to improved blood flow and reduced risk of stroke – factors that are particularly appealing in a country that is home to one of the world’s oldest populations. My mother often boasts that nattō keeps her blood “sara sara” (silky). Japanese news site SoraNews24 has gone as far as to declare that “a pack of natto a day keeps the death away”. Hitoshi Shirakawa, professor of nutrition and food science at Tohoku University’s Graduate School of Agricultural Science in Sendai, muses this is “probably true
He cites a long-term study published in the British Medical Journal earlier this year: researchers at the National Cancer Center in Tokyo found that men and women who ate fermented soy-based foods like nattō on a daily basis reduced their risk of dying from a stroke or heart attack by 10%.
I – Word Understanding
Polarizing – causing strong disagreement between opposing groups
Hailed – praised / highly valued
Cites – to quote / to mention formally
II – Have Your Say
1, Are you part of the 62% Japanese who love natto? What makes you like or not like natto?
2, How do you incorporate natto in your diet? Do you eat it regularly?
3, What are the popular dishes made with natto? Which is your favorite?
4, Which natto dish would you recommend to a first time natto eater? Would you recommend and an all-you-can-eat natto restaurant?