Natto for Heart Health
Much of the fanfare surrounding natto has to do with nattokinase, a fibrinolytic (clot-busting) enzyme that was discovered by Dr. Hiroyuki Sumi, aka “Dr. Natto,” in 1980 while he was working as a researcher at the University of Chicago. The Bacillus natto acts on the soybeans, producing the nattokinase enzyme.
Dr. Sumi studied about 200 foods from around the world and found that natto has the highest fibrinolytic activity of any food he studied. “There is no enzyme that has a stronger fibrinolytic activity than nattokinase,” he said. The nattokinase enzyme seems to be especially concentrated in the “threads,” or the stringy portion, of natto.
Why is this so important?
Because blood clots that form inside your blood vessels restrict your blood flow, and that can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Whenever you are injured, your body naturally releases compounds that convert a protein in your blood called fibrinogen into fibrin. Fibrin works like a spider web, forming long threads that catch your red blood cells and other substances to form a blood clot. If you’re injured, this clot, or scab, stops the bleeding and allows your body to heal.
After their work is done, your body’s clotting agents should disappear, and your blood flow should return to normal. However, sometimes your body may form a blood clot unnecessarily, and these are the dangerous kind. Your body does produce an enzyme that breaks up fibrin naturally; it’s called plasmin.
As you age, however, your body produces less plasmin and more fibrinogen. As a result, your body will begin clotting more, and disintegrating the clots less, on its own.
One of the most beneficial effects of nattokinase is that it has an extremely powerful ability to disintegrate blood clots. The properties of nattokinase closely resemble the fibrinolytic activity of your body’s natural enzyme, plasmin.
You may have heard the misguided advice to take aspirin to prevent a heart attack. This popular recommendation is based on the same principles, as aspirin is a blood thinner that may make your blood less likely to clot and block a narrowed artery.
Aspirin works by manipulation of prostaglandins that influence inflammation in your body, and it is well understood that inflammation is a powerful influence in developing many diseases, especially heart disease.
Of course, you don’t hear the media outlets reporting much on the extreme benefits of natto to your heart health… you only hear about the newest drugs to take for it. Then again, no one’s going to get rich off of selling natto, so their motivation to promote it is clearly lacking.
Nattokinase from natto can come in and basically clean things up where your body’s natural plasmin may have left off, which will aid your circulation and promote your heart health. But that is only the beginning of natto’s health benefits.
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