The Japanese are among the healthiest people on the planet, thanks to their diet and practice of traditional medicine. A staple of their diet that has been linked to cardiovascular and circulatory health recently is natto.
What Is Natto?
Natto is produced from soybeans that have been boiled. After boiling, the soybeans are combined with a bacteria called Bacillus natto (hence the name) and allowed to ferment. Now, eating natto isn't for sensitive or picky eaters, and isn't always a favorite of the Western palate. These fermented beans have turned brown in color, are sticky and stringy in texture and a pretty strong odor. If this doesn't sound like something you can handle, thankfully, there are supplements made from natto to provide its benefits.
What Is Nattokinase?
Fermented foods are some of the healthiest out there and natto is no exception. These foods provide probiotics, or "good bacteria" that help balance the body, strengthen the immune system and keep the digestive system on track.
In addition to these beneficial bacteria, natto contains nattokinase, which is a type of enzyme. Enzymes are a type of protein that assist the body in carrying out various functions. Nattokinase isn't found in all soy foods as it's a product of the fermentation process described above.
Benefits of Nattokinase
The main uses of nattokinase are for heart health and proper circulatory function, which go hand in hand. How does it work? Nattokinase works as a natural blood thinner by preventing an increase in fibrinogen, which can occur as we age, making the blood thick and sticky. When the blood is too thick, there can be negative effects on blood pressure and blood flow and an increased risk for different forms of heart disease as well as heart attack and stroke (caused by a clot) as well as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), which is clotting in the legs.
This effect on fibrinogen was seen in a two-month study published in 2009 in the medical journal Nutrition research, which involved patients that were healthy, those with risk factors for cardiovascular disease and individuals undergoing dialysis. A study conducted in the previous year and published in the Japanese medical journal Hypertension research also found daily consumption of nattokinase by subjects with pre-hypertension or stage 1 hypertension resulted in a decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Both of these studies used dosages of 2,000 FU (fibrinolytic units) or about 100 mg of nattokinase.
Larger studies will need to be conducted to determine an exact recommended dosage.
Taking Nattokinase Safely
Anyone with a diagnosed medical condition should consult their doctor before taking nattokinase or any new supplement. Individuals with bleeding disorders shouldn't take nattokinase because of its impact on blood clotting, unless under the supervision of a doctor. If you're scheduled to have surgery, you should stop taking nattokinase at least two weeks beforehand to allow for proper healing. If you're allergic to soy or are pregnant or breastfeeding, you shouldn't take nattokinase supplements.
You can find nattokinase supplements at eVitamins to help you get all the benefits of this amazing protein in a more convenient form. Stock up today and save!