Natto is a sticky paste made by adding healthy bacteria to fermented soybeans. The traditional Japanese food was discovered by accident about a thousand years ago when boiled soybeans wrapped in straw and eaten several days later were found to have a pleasant taste. Or maybe its founders were just super hungry. Either way, the Japanese — especially in the eastern part of the country — continue to eat natto, typically on top of rice for breakfast. 

For soybeans to make their transformation into natto, they need to be put in the right temperature and humidity, then combined with bacillus natto, a bacterium that grows in Japan’s unique climate. Of the many fermented foods consumed in Japan, like miso, yogurt and umeboshi (pickled plums), natto tops the list in health benefits containing calcium, protein and probiotics.     

Use today’s Word of the Day: An Ode To the Japanese Lunch