The Paleo List Answers:IS NATTO PALEO?

We often hear the benefits of Asian diets extolled by mainstream media. While their reliance on vegetables and fresh seafood is certainly admirable, in the Paleo world, we tend to shy away from some of their more prominent ingredients such as rice and soy. So what about the traditional Japanese dish Natto. Is it Paleo?
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What is Natto?

Natto is a traditional Japanese dish made of fermented (we’re off to a great start) soybeans (uh oh). It has a slimy, almost sticky texture, and is a common breakfast item for the Japanese. It is considered an acquired taste, especially as the smell is quite powerful and the texture is very unique.


Natto is made by washing small soybeans and then soaking them in water for 12-20 hours. The beans are then steamed for around 6 hours, and then a specific bacterium (Bacillus subtilis) is added for the fermentation process. The beans are fermented for up to 24 hours, then cooled and aged in a refrigerator for up to one week (which develops the stringiness). The final dish is often served over rice.

Is Natto Paleo?

Well, technically no. Nobody in the Paleo world supports soybeans; for good reasons. However, it is fermented, which does greatly reduce the toxins. Unfortunately, not all toxins can be completely eliminated through fermentation. (Which is one reason why soy sauce and tempeh are not Paleo.)

Additionally, most natto you’ll find on supermarket shelves has a variety of additives that you certainly want to avoid, such as MSG and high fructose corn syrup. Traditionally prepared natto is certainly not the worst thing in the world, and if you’ve grown up eating it, it’s probably fine. However, if you don’t already have the taste for it, it’s not the fermented craving we’d recommend acquiring. (Try kombucha instead!)

Are you struggling with which foods are Paleo?  Do you need help planning some Paleo meals?  Check out this great Paleo cookbook:

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