We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Natto?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
DelightedCooking is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At DelightedCooking, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Natto is an ancient Japanese food made from soybeans. It is soaked and fermented, which makes the soybeans quite sticky, and produces a springy or web effect between each bean. Often considered an acquired taste, the fermenting process makes the smell of natto very strong, and to some not used to the dish, unpleasant. It also tends to produce bad breath, though a vigorous tooth brushing usually solves this problem.

In certain parts of Japan, natto holds great popularity. It may be eaten as a breakfast food, sometimes with a little sugar, or may be served over rice. Some prefer to add sauces to natto and rice, and may use different hot mustards, soy sauce, quail eggs or grated radishes as a topping. It is quite nutritious and low in calories, with about 7 to 8 grams of protein and only about 90 calories per serving.

Natto is also celebrated for its high amounts of vitamin K. It also is high in a number of anti-oxidants, particularly selenium. Natto also contains a protein called nattokinase, which may be a natural blood thinner. Since the soybeans are fermented and grow bacteria, it is also a probiotic food.

The traditional method for preparing natto dates back at least 3,000 years, and some food historians suggest it may have been prepared 10,000 years ago. Some suggest that it may have been Chinese in origin, but it is now considered a primarily Japanese food. Stories about the origins suggest that natto may have been discovered accidentally when soldiers in a hurry packed leftover cooked soybeans and didn't open them again for several days.

Most natto is purchased premade, and not often made at home. It is usually created by adding the bacteria Bacillus subtilis formerly known as Bacillus natto, to the soybeans during fermentation. This is what produces the sticky soybeans and the strong smell.

Many people who try natto for the first time find the flavor to be nutty and a bit sharp, better tasting than smelling. Others feel this food is bland and think it needs additional flavoring. For those who cannot get past the smell, there are some companies that have produced low odor natto, and these might be more palatable.

Not every person in Japan enjoys natto, and it is most popular in eastern parts of the country. It is also hard to find outside of Japan, though occasionally Asian markets will stock it in the frozen section. It may also be possible to find natto ice cream or dried natto, which is eaten like nuts or chips. In Korea, a similar dish includes fermented soybeans and is called cheongguikjang. The Chinese also make a fermented black bean dish called douchi.

DelightedCooking is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon153479 — On Feb 17, 2011

Natto also comes in digital form - iNattou app on the iPhone! No smell just, fun virtual stickiness.

By anon129591 — On Nov 24, 2010

I have a Natto face mask and i wanted to know what that is for. I'm not going to cook my face mask. lol.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
DelightedCooking, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

DelightedCooking, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.