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Your heart will thank you! — FermentWorks

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Evidence suggests that eating natto* (or other B.subtilis soy ferments) can be one of the best heart healthy diet choices one can make. A massive study was released last week and reported on in the New York Times that singled out natto as the most significant factor in lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease. This was brought home to us this past summer when we were traveling and teaching about soy fermentation. A heart surgeon was at two of our classes in Ohio, because he believed in natto. He explained to our wide-eyed class that when he “saws through a sternum” he can tell immediately what shape the patient’s cardiovascular system is in because if their bones feel brittle then he knows to be careful when clamping their veins. Because the calcium from the bones will be in the veins, he said that “feels like there are pieces of eggshells” floating inside with the blood. Those visceral descriptions of how something we cannot see feels got all of our attention. Keeping that calcium in your bones is also a benefit of natto. Studies also show it can stop osteoporosis in its tracks. Let’s look at why natto? But first, we want you to understand that while this study focuses on natto, which comes from Japan, very similar versions of soy fermented with B. subtilis are found all over eastern Asia, southern Asia, and up into the Himalayas, as well as in central and west Africa. These are foods like kimena from Nepal, tua nao flavor disks from Myanmar and parts of Thailand, and cheonggukjang in Korea. In truth, other than the fact that these other ferments rely on “wild caught” local B. subtilis instead of inoculation, there is very little difference between them and natto — with warmth and time, beans (mostly soy) become sticky, somewhat stinky, and infinitely more digestible and healthier. We are talking natto because it is the most well known in the west and is therefore easier to source. Besides at your local Asian market there are some wonderful artisan makers that might just be in your neighborhood (if not they ship) NYNatto, Wanpaku, Megumi natto. Of course, once you are in the habit, you will want to make your own and our book will help you with that and tua nao or cheonggukjang.The sticky part of these ferments contains the enzyme nattokinase – a natural blood thinning enzyme. We like to explain it as an enzyme with little scrubbers (not the science definition at all) cleaning out your veins by dissolving blood clots. Nattokinase is good for various veins and it can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of stroke. The other big part of these ferments’ superpower is just how much vitamin K2 it produces. These ferments are the richest source known for vitamin K2. For a great explanation of vitamin K and its relationship to natto head to this link by microbiologist turned natto maker Ann Yonetoni. We know, some of us love natto and some of us cannot figure out how to get it past our mouths and into our bodies. It doesn’t matter if it is the texture or the flavor that is uncomfortable—no judgements here. What we can do is offer a way to sneak the good stuff in. You can think of it like vitamin gummies but instead its natto based cocoa bites. Seriously you won’t perceive the natto but soon your gut will. (We really need to do a whole other post about why it is our microbiome that dictates our cravings.) Just know, the probiotics in this ferment will help there too. Without further ado, we want to share a chocolate treat to make for your love’s heart. This and other recipes for making and eating these ferments can be found in Miso, Tempeh, Natto and other tasty ferments. *Natto is a traditional Japanese fermented soy bean dish. It is characterized by it’s deep umami and stringy texture. It is an alkaline ferment.

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