Could a Japanese Food Reverse Heart Disease? Nattokinase, Natto and Atherosclerosis

natto By The original uploader was Shades0404 at English Wikipedia. - Transferred from en.wikipedia to Commons., CC BY 2.5Researchers are finding that food and supplements containing nattokinase may reverse atherosclerosis. Current treatments for hardening of the arteries slow down the progression of heart disease. Effectively reversing atherosclerotic lesions would be a dream come true for drug manufacturers. Nattokinase is the most active ingredient in natto. Natto is a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans. Could we increase our longevity by consuming natto or nattokinase supplements?

Nattokinase Meta-study

In 2018, researchers in China and Australia looked at more than 45 studies on nattokinase and cardiovascular health.1 This 5,000-word meta-study found that nattokinase has numerous potent cardiovascular effects that include:

  • fibrinolytic activity
  • antihypertensive
  • anti-atherosclerotic
  • lipid-lowering – fighting high cholesterol
  • antiplatelet
  • neuroprotective

Additionally, natto is linked to reduced death from cardiovascular disease.

Enzymatic Action in Natto

Nattokinase is an enzyme of 275 amino acid residues. Its enzyme type is “protease,” which means it breaks down proteins and peptides. Nattokinase can break down fibrin mesh, which is the substance of a blood clot. Therefore, this protease helps prevent blood clots from forming in the blood vessels. Blood clots in the arteries lead to heart attacks and strokes.

What’s the Big Secret?

The researchers questioned why nattokinase is little-known outside of Japan. This humble product may have been overlooked. As a natural product, it is difficult to patent. Be aware that genetically modified nattokinase is on the horizon.2

Making natto at home is a 2-day process involving soybeans, natto spores (bacillus subtilis), and low heat. The odor of fermentation is overpowering, but the resulting dish is quite tasty.

A more convenient and steady way to get nattokinase is from supplements. Capsules are available as a single supplement and combined with other supplements. For example, Natural Eye Care offers Nattokinase Plus Serratiopeptidase. Consult your doctor before taking nattokinase. Do not combine it with another blood thinner, such as Warfarin.

  1. Biomark Insights. Published online 2018 Jul 5. doi: 10.1177/1177271918785130. PMCID: PMC6043915. PMID: 30013308. Nattokinase: A Promising Alternative in Prevention and Treatment of Cardiovascular Diseases. Hongjie Chen, Eileen M McGowan, Nina Ren, Sara Lal, Najah Nassif, Fatima Shad-Kaneez, Xianqin Qu, and Yiguang Lin
  2. Construction of a genetically engineered strain of nattokinase and assessment of its fibrinolytic activity. African Journal of Microbiology Research Vol.13(27), pp. 488-499, September 2019. By Li Tian, Wenke Zhou, Youhong Zhang. DOI:10.5897/AJMR2019.9181