(NaturalNews) Studies have confirmed that an enzyme present in a Japanese fermented soy food is effective in lowering blood pressure and dissolving clots. The food, natto, has been eaten by the Japanese for 1,000 years because of its taste and also as a remedy for heart and vascular diseases. No problems have been identified with its use.
The enzyme, nattokinase, is present in natto, a fermented cheese-like food which is produced by adding the beneficial bacteria Bacillus natto to boiled soybeans. Nattokinase, literally "enzyme in natto", was discovered in 1980 by Doctor Hiroyuki Sumi, who was researching natural substances which could dissolve blood clots associated with heart attacks and stroke. Its properties closely resemble plasmin, an enzyme produced by the human body which breaks down such blood clots.
Besides its ability to dissolve clots, nattokinase has other advantages over the traditional clot-dissolving drugs, such as activase, urokinase, and streptokinase. It can be taken orally instead of intravenously and its effects last longer - eight to ten hours longer. This is because the intravenous drugs wear off shortly after their administration to the person is stopped. In addition, this enzyme acts to enhance the production of the body's natural clot-busting substances like plasmin, adding to its power.
Researchers were able to monitor various substances in the blood which changed in level after the patient consumed the nattokinase. These changes were beneficial to vascular health. Nattokinase does all this with no evident side effects. Studies done in Japan have confirmed findings that nattokinase works at least partially by inhibiting other enzymes in the body which constrict blood vessels and thus raise blood pressure.
Both the food form, natto, and the extract, nattokinase, have been studied and both seem to have similar effects. Research was carried out in animals, humans and Petri dishes, and none of it has shown a downside to natto.
The discovery of a natural blood clot dissolver which also strengthens the body's health-enhancing enzymes promises to give users added protection from more than one disease. Its use could help prevent cerebral hemorrhage, stroke, heart attack and angina pectoris, as well as diseases caused by blood vessels with lowered flexibility. These include senile dementia and diabetes. Hemorrhoids are considered a local thrombotic (obstructive blood clot) condition.
If chronic diseases of the capillaries are also considered, then the number of thrombus related conditions may be much higher. Some sources also claim it can prevent cancer, osteoporosis and obesity. Other claims state that natto is high in B-12, making it an important food for vegans and vegetarians. It is also low in cholesterol.
Though natto is very popular in parts of Japan, westerners may be taken aback by its odor and stickiness. To make it more palatable, it is often mixed with soy sauce, green onions and a raw egg over a bowl of hot rice. Recipes are available on the internet.
Natto is sold frozen in packs of single-serving Styrofoam containers in Japanese grocery stores. It is also available online from Japanese food outlets. Hopefully it will increase in popularity once its health benefits are known and will start appearing next to the Miso and Kimchi on regular grocery store freezer shelves. Nattokinase can be found in health food and supplement stores.
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