Maintaining Healthy Blood Pressure with Natto
Do you know that there is a healthy, natural way to lower your blood pressure (BP) - and keep it low?
High BP is a serious condition that can lead to coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, kidney failure and other serious health problems if left untreated. ‘Blood pressure’ means the force of blood pushing against the walls of your arteries as your heart pumps blood.
If your BP rises and stays high over time, it can damage your body in many ways.
About 1 in 3 adults in the United States has high BP, a condition with no obvious signs or symptoms. In fact, you can have it for years without knowing it. But during this time, high BP silently damages your heart, blood vessels, kidneys and other parts of your body.
In 1995, researchers at Miyazaki Medical College and Kurashiki University of Science and Arts in Japan discovered that a food item called Natto, made from fermented soybeans, could relax blood vessel walls and keep BP low, naturally.
On average, systolic BP (the top number) decreased from 174 to 155, while diastolic BP (the bottom number) dropped from 101 to 91 - an overall drop of roughly 10% in 4 out of 5 study volunteers given Natto.
How does Natto do this?
Renin is an enzyme made in your kidney. It circulates in your bloodstream and breaks down the protein angiotensinogen (made in your liver) into the peptide angiotensin I. Angiotensin I has no action on blood vessels, but is converted by another enzyme known as ACE into angiotensin II - which is a potent constrictor of all blood vessels.
Angiotensin II acts on smooth muscles in arteries to raise the resistance they pose to the heart. The heart tries to overcome this increase in its 'load' and works harder, causing BP to rise.
What has all this got to do with Natto?
The Japanese have been eating Natto for nearly a thousand years - for its taste, and for what it does for their energy, memory, skin and digestion.
But it wasn’t until 1987 that researchers at Miyazaki Medical College discovered exactly what makes Natto so good for your health. They discovered a strong enzyme activity in Natto that breaks down fibrin - the protein that makes your blood clot when you bleed from a wound - and named this enzyme nattokinase.
Too much fibrin can make your blood too thick and too sticky, slow down your circulation, raise BP and cause unhealthy clotting activity. In one study of 12 healthy Japanese volunteers, consuming Natto reduced the time it took to dissolve a clot by nearly half.
Nattokinase also blocks the action of the enzyme ACE, meaning it lowers production of angiotensin II. In other words - Natto potently lowers BP and keeps it low by acting via two separate modes of action. No wonder the Japanese are so fond of it.
Talk to your healthcare provider about adding a Natto supplement to your diet.