Health Benefits of Nattokinase

Nattokinase is a natural enzyme in natto, a Japanese soy-based food. The enzyme is produced during natto’s fermentation process by a specific bacterium called Bacillus subtilis.

High natto consumption has been linked to the Japanese population’s longer average lifespans and lower chronic disease rates. In particular, studies show that people with diets rich in natto have lower rates of death from heart diseases.

Natto’s health benefits — and its distinct taste and smell — are thanks to this unique enzyme. When soybeans go through fermentation, the bacteria used activates nattokinase and gives the food its cheese-like flavor and a range of scientifically-backed health benefits.

In East Asia, natto has been popular for thousands of years. Today, many grocery stores and specialty health food shops worldwide sell natto. You can also buy homemade natto kits or take nattokinase as a supplement. 

Health Benefits

Natto is rich in protein, vitamins, and minerals, but most of the food’s health benefits are tied to its powerful nattokinase enzyme. Natto is the only food source of nattokinase, but you can also buy it as a supplement. Research suggests that supplement intake is just as effective as consuming natto.

Nattokinase has powerful effects on your health, including:

Lower Heart Disease Risk

Studies show that nattokinase dissolves blood clots — which helps maintain good blood vessel structure, improves blood flow, and lowers the risk of heart disease.

It can also help lower your blood pressure, reducing strain on the heart that can lead to heart attacks.

Improved Sinus Health

Chronic sinusitis is ongoing inflammation in your sinuses that could be caused by allergies, bacteria, fungal infections, or asthma. It’s the most common chronic disease in adults. Sometimes, people with chronic sinusitis may need surgery to clear nasal passages. 

Research shows that nattokinase can shrink blockage-causing nasal polyps and thin mucus, improving airflow while reducing discomfort. Because of these effects, scientists continue to study the enzyme to treat symptoms of respiratory conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and bronchitis.

Improved Gut Health and Metabolism

Nattokinase can promote a good balance of bacteria in our gut, also known as our microbiome. Poor gut health can weaken your immune system and increases your risk of many chronic diseases, like diabetes, obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, and heart disease.

Nattokinase’s probiotic properties may also boost metabolism and reduce body fat, regulating and potentially preventing metabolic disorders like obesity and diabetes.

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Health Risks

Nattokinase is generally safe, but the enzyme’s potent effects may cause complications for people with certain health conditions. Talk to your doctor before adding the food or supplement to your diet to ensure you won’t experience any of these health risks: 

Drug Interactions

Excessive bleeding can occur when you take nattokinase along with some medical drugs. Because nattokinase can dissolve blood clots, people taking blood thinner medication may be at a higher risk of bleeding. 

Doctors also often recommend a daily aspirin regimen for people at risk of heart attack or stroke. Taking nattokinase can increase aspirin’s effects, however, which could lead to an unexpected amount of bleeding.

Nattokinase may also help lower your blood pressure. If you have low blood pressure or take medication to lower your blood pressure, make sure to talk to your doctor before taking nattokinase. 

Deep Vein Thrombosis

While nattokinase’s blood clot-fighting abilities may prevent deep vein thrombosis, it shouldn’t be used as a treatment without a doctor’s supervision. Nattokinase could theoretically dislodge a clot quickly, which can cause complications. 

Pregnancy

There is not enough research to indicate that nattokinase is safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Amounts and Dosage

There is no set recommendation for nattokinase, but studies suggest its health benefits come with an oral dose of 100 to 200 grams a day.  

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 06, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Allergology International: “Nattokinase, profibrinolytic enzyme, effectively shrinks the nasal polyp tissue and decreases viscosity of mucus.”

Alternative & Complementary Therapies: “Natto and Its Active Ingredient Nattokinase.”

Biomarker Insights: “Nattokinase: A Promising Alternative in Prevention and Treatment of Cardiovascular Diseases.”

Harvard Medical School: “Can gut bacteria improve your health?”

Hypertension Research: “Effects of nattokinase on blood pressure: a randomized, controlled trial.”

International Journal of Molecular Sciences: “Nattokinase: An Oral Antithrombotic Agent for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease.”

Journal of Functional Foods: “Bacillus natto regulates gut microbiota and adipose tissue accumulation in a high-fat diet mouse model of obesity.”

Journal of Functional Foods: “Bacillus natto regulates gut microbiota and adipose tissue accumulation in a high-fat diet mouse model of obesity.”

Mayo Clinic: “Daily aspirin therapy: Understand the benefits and risks.”

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: “Nattokinase.”

Plant Breeding: “Improvement of soybean cultivars for natto production through the selection of seed morphological and physiological characteristics and seed compositions: A review.”

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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