I first encountered natto when I was studying abroad in Japan and a couple of my friends thought it would be funny to challenge each other to eat natto (think the cinnamon challenge, except with natto). If you’ve eaten/seen natto, you know it is not the most appetizing looking food. It’s slimy and gooey, and if you look at it close, it kind of looks like …alien eggs.
Despite its appearance, this traditional Japanese food made with fermented soybeans is power-packed with enzymes, vitamins, and amino acids, which is science-speak for -this stuff is awesome!
What is Natto?
According to Japanese folklore, natto was introduced to Japan by samurai warriors. Nowadays, Japanese people consume this nutritious staple regularly with rice for breakfast. Natto is made from boiled soybeans that are then fermented with a culture of bacillus subtilis natto. After a 24-hour fermentation period, the soybeans develop their characteristic gooeyness and distinct fermented aroma.
Although natto looks kind of weird and smells somewhat funky, it’s also a health junkie’s dream. When consumed, natto offers amazing health benefits, including preventing strokes and heart attacks, increasing bone density, promoting weight loss, aiding digestion, and decreasing risks of cancer.
What are the Skin Benefits of Natto?
The next section includes some super nitty-gritty details about all the ways that your skin will love the benefits of natto. If you’re like me and get excited about all the sciency/technical details, read on. Otherwise, the TLDR version is: this stuff is amazing for your skin.
Here are all the naturally occurring enzymes, vitamins and amino acids found in natto that will take your skincare to the next level.
Lecithin: Natto contains lecithin, which is a skin softening, conditioning and smoothing agent.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and helps to prevent skin damage from free radicals, keeping your skin looking bright, young and healthy.
Vitamin K2: Natto is loaded with vitamin K2, which has been show in studies to help visibly prevent fine lines. In 2008, Korean researchers showed that a diet high in vitamin K2 led to smoother skin features in women.
Gamma Polyglutamic Acid (PGA). This is the big one. The sticky gooey strings in natto are full of PGA, an amino acid that when used in skincare delivers some serious hydration. PGA is a real breakthrough in skincare science. It’s ten times more hydrating than hyaluronic acid and far more elastic than collagen. Just take a look at this list of PGA’s skincare benefits and you’ll know that this amino acid is not kidding around:
Diminishes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
Facilitates skin exfoliation of old keratin
Brightens skin and evens tone
Enhances the skin’s natural moisturizing capabilities
Carries moisture and nutrients as it penetrates
Forms a thin, smooth and moisturizing film on the skin
Increases production of the Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF)
Natto has some serious skincare benefits and the best part is that it is 100% natural, no nasty chemicals or preservatives. What are you waiting for?!? Swing by your local Asian grocery store, pick up some natto, and smother it all over your face. Just kidding. Don’t do that. Instead I’d recommend a personal favorite, Whamisa’s Organic Flowers Water Cream with Natto Gum (It smells amazing and it’s so light and souffle-fluffy).
We see plenty of ingredients in beauty these days being used for what seems to be more shock value than real benefit. For me, I love to see new ingredients that deliver hard-hitting skin benefits. We’re going to continue to do these ingredient deep dives – let us know what ingredient info you’d like to see next!
Get your glow on,