Natto (fermented soy beans), one of Japan’s best-known health foods, is loaded with compounds that help slow aging of the brain such as vitamins B1, B2 and K2. Vitamin B1, known for its effects on emotions, helps calm you down and increases concentration.

Vitamin K2, which strengthens bones, is manufactured by natto bacilli and is not found in unfermented soy beans. By eating natto, you get vitamins that benefit both your brain and your bones. It is, you might say, an all-mighty health food that keeps both your brain and body young.

Soy beans also contain lecithin, a substance that improves memory and invigorates the brain. Put it at the top of your list if you want to sharpen your thinking. “Lecithin becomes choline in the liver and is then synthesized into acetylcholine. People who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease have only one-third the acetylcholine of healthy people. That is how important it is to a healthy brain,” says Sanae Shiratori, a doctor of nutrition.

Natto also contains potassium which helps remove lipid peroxides, a cause of aging, and high-grade proteins needed for the formation of brain cells. “Natto is loaded with a protein called polyglutamate and sugars called fructans. In combination, the two create the slimy sticky texture that natto is famous for.

“Mixing natto with raw egg is an effective way to improve the absorption of natto protein,” notes Dr. Shiratori. Many people avoid eggs because they are high in cholesterol, but natto contains linoleic acid, and unsaturated fatty acid that neutralizes the cholesterol. In fact, since both natto and eggs contain lecithin, a substance that improves memory, concentration, and decision making, eating the combination is extremely beneficial. Lecithin has also been proven to be helpful in combating the early stages of senility. So while it is best not to eat too many eggs, one egg in the morning with natto is no problem. Green onions, a favorite condiment with natto, aids the absorption of vitamin B1. So enjoy your natto with green onions, both for the flavor and nutritional benefit.

To be continued

(Translated by Roy Mashima)

(The information provided should not be construed as medical advice or instruction. Consult your physician before attempting any new program. Readers who fail to consult appropriate health authorities assume the risk of developing serious medical conditions.)


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