Natto actually refers to fermented soybeans, that is prepared when a beneficial bacteria known as Bacillus Natto is added to soybeans. These beans are then allowed to ferment, and in the process of fermentation, they begin to develop a sticky thread-like coat. It is from this coat that the nattokinase enzyme is then extracted. Natto has been consumed in Japan for a long time now, and it is only recently that its benefits have become popular the world over.
In the fermentation process, the nutrients increase manifold to offer a lot of health benefits. When nattokinase is extracted from natto, it can offer the following benefits.
- Anti-Aging Benefits: Because nattokinase is abundant in protein, it has the ability to keep the skin looking younger for longer, and works like a natural anti-aging agent. It also contains high amounts of vitamin K2, which performs a similar function. Not only the skin, it will keep the hair glowing and looking great. It has the ability to prevent hair loss (alopecia) too.
- Osteoporosis Prevention: With its rich amounts of vitamin K2, nattokinase can help prevent the development of osteoporosis in those who are at a greater risk of developing this condition.
- Heart Disease Prevention: Nattokinase is a natural blood thinner which allows the blood to flow freely through the arteries. Also, the development of plaque is prevented upon its consumption on a regular basis. As such, one may be at a lower risk of developing heart disease or heart problems.
- Lowers Cholesterol: Because of its aforementioned property of being a blood thinner, it becomes a great agent to reduce cholesterol levels among those who are struggling with high levels.
- Lowers Blood Pressure: A recent study conducted has shown that those who took nattokinase supplements daily for a week reported lower blood pressure levels. However, deeper research has to be conducted in relation to this benefit.
Apart from the aforementioned benefits, it has been reported that nattokinase may help treat hair loss, hemorrhoids, stroke, muscle spasms, varicose veins, fatigue, infertility, uterine fibroids, and even preventing cancer. Some studies have shown that it may also be helpful in preventing the development of Alzheimer's disease.
There are no reported side effects of nattokinase, unless you suffer from any allergy to soy products. However, there are still some precautions you should take before you include this natural supplement in your diet. Since it is a natural blood thinner, you should not consume it if you are already taking blood thinning medication. Also, if you are someone who bleeds very easily, and has a problem with blood clotting, it is imperative that you avoid its consumption without consulting your doctor.
In fact, if you are on any type of medication, it is important that you consult your doctor first. This is because, it is likely to interact with some drugs and cause unpleasant reactions. Not much has been determined about its intake during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It has also been found that it can react negatively with garlic, which is why, first consulting your doctor before taking it becomes all the more important. Finally, those who have a history of heart disease, ulcers, stroke, or have had a surgery in the recent past, should avoid consuming nattokinase.
Disclaimer: This HolisticZine article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert advice.