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Natto (Chung-gook-jang) for Stomach Health

February 19, 2011


I don’t know if any of you have stomach problems, but back in my omnivore days, I used to have frequent stomach problems. From irritable bowel syndrome whenever I got really stressed to really painful diverticulitis. Once, the doctor thought I had accute appendicitis, so I went into surgery, and it ended up not being the problem – it was diverticulitis! Anyway, now you know how important the condition of my stomach is to me.

So one of the best things that I’ve discovered while trying to follow Korean macrobiotic guidelines as much as possible, is “Natto” (in Japanese) or “Chung-gook-jang” (in Korean). They are fermented beans and they aren’t the yummiest things in the world, but they are really medicinal. Natto and Chung-gook-jang are very widely used in Japan and Korea for their amazing healing strength for stomach cancer as well. It is a very widely known that doctors of oriental medicine have stomach cancer survivors eat fermented beans everyday – for the rest of their lives!


These are the fermented beans, and the white, stickiness is where the medicinal benefits are. Some people just can’t take the stringiness, it’s just too gross for them. But for me, I think it’s great. The Japanese eat Natto for breakfast, wrapped in Nori (seaweed). How cool is that, sticky fermented beans for breakfast! I remember visiting Kyoto and Tokyo, and all the nice hotels that we were staying at served breakfast with Natto. I still remember my mom saying she couldn’t eat it. I thought it was good. ๐Ÿ˜›

These days, I hardly get sick. After following macrobiotic vegan guidelines as much as possible, I’m really rarely sick, which is the most amazing thing in the world, given how often I used to get sick. But once in a while, when I’ve been sitting on my desk for 8 hours straight working on a research paper for too long, I start having stomach problems – I start feeling a bit gassy or nauseus. I take a spoon of Natto, and usually within 10 minutes, my stomach starts feeling better. Obviously, if you just take it regularly, that is the best. I try to have some every other day or so. Just a spoonful or two. And it’s been really great for me.

So if you have been having any stomach problems, you might want to consider Natto in your fridge. You can get it at almost any Japanese or larger Asian grocery stores. I’ve seen some Korean and Chinese grocery stores carry them too. If you can, try to get organic, and really make sure to get the kind without any MSG (different for everyone, but MSG gives me 8 hours of an intense headache)!

I also get the kind that “Does not contain seasoning” (as you see in the picture below), as the seasoning often contain MSG. You can still find ones that don’t. I often add the mustard (as you see in the picture above) and a drizzle of agave nectar, and it tastes great! Who knows, you might think it’s good too. If you’d like to see improvements in your stomach health, you might want to consider Natto!


27 Comments leave one →
  1. linda permalink
    February 19, 2011 4:50 pm

    i love natto is good mixed with avocado..also very nice with umeboshi..and in japan i had natto spaghetti…mix with the hot spaghetti and soy sauce if u like..or mayo..or olive oil..and some nori…yum..also drop it in miso soup and add it to fried rice..i also love it on toast for breakfast!!
    and..natto omelet!!

    • Sunnie permalink*
      February 19, 2011 5:01 pm

      Hi, Linda! It’s so great to find someone who loves natto too, I was getting a little lonely because Bill is not crazy about it. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I will definitely try it with avocado and umeboshi. Natto spahetti sounds interesting too, I think it’ll taste really good with soy sauce and nori. Yup, I eat it with my rice, raw/steamed veggies, and toast all the time too! Thanks for the suggestions!!

  2. linda permalink
    February 19, 2011 6:05 pm

    i had no idea koreans like natto..i thought it was peculiar to japan..i am loving your blog..the recipes/ideas are great..thanks from london!!!

    • Sunnie permalink*
      February 19, 2011 11:02 pm

      Thanks Linda!! It’s just so great that we can connect with people from all sorts of different places. Yes, we call it chung-gook-jang, and it might have a slightly stronger flavor, but it’s basically the same… fermented beans. Koreans love to make soups, stews and even tiny snack balls with it. Please keep us in the loop about your great food ideas and suggestions!

  3. Sal permalink
    March 14, 2011 6:46 am

    Thank you for sharing this information!! I was only searching for vegan recipes (I will try to be one for two weeks!) and found this useful information about natto! I have a very bad stomach problem..very bad heart burn sometimes. I will definitely try natto tonight and for tm’s breakfast!

    • Sunnie permalink*
      March 14, 2011 7:50 am

      Hello, Sal! Thanks for finding us. I do hope your experiment goes well. I have been very impressed with the health benefits of a vegan diet. I used to have bad heart burn all the time – I would take Tums and similar types of prescription medications all the time, and I haven’t needed them for a year, every since I went totally vegan. And yes, I highly recommend natto, just make sure to regularly eat it if you can. It really is worth the time and effort! Again, good luck with your two week experiment, and feel free to let us know if you have other questions! Thanks.

  4. Donna permalink
    July 5, 2011 7:30 pm

    Hello, my mother favorite breakfast these days is instant oatmeal with flax seed mixed with half a packet of natto.

    • Sunnie permalink*
      July 5, 2011 8:29 pm

      Hi Donna!

      Thanks for visiting our blog! Your mom’s breakfast sounds pretty good, and so healthy!! I think I will have to try it tomorrow morning. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Thanks for sharing!

  5. Juhana permalink
    August 20, 2011 2:45 am


    The major health benefits of Japanese natto are attributed to its high content of vitamin K2 (specifically menaquinone-7). Is chung-gook-jang produced by using the same bacterial strain as in the production of natto (Bacillus subtilis var. natto), and does chung-gook-jang also contain vitamin K2?

    • Sunnie permalink*
      August 20, 2011 9:49 am

      Hi, Juhana! Yes, chungookjang contains K2 and they both use the same bacteria – bacillus. Both natto and chungookjang derive the needed bacteria from rice straw. Basically chungookjang is fermented for a much longer period than natto.

  6. Chin permalink
    November 9, 2011 9:04 pm

    Hi, I accidentally found your blog while searching for vegan recipe. I am Chin and I am from Malaysia (you might never heard this country before, hehe…). Many of your recipe looks great and delicious but I cant find the ingredients in my place. My doctor suggested me to take natto due to my allergic, but what I can get is only multi-cereal milk that content natto from Taiwan. Thanks for the sharing, anyway. Love your blog. Cheers ! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Sunnie permalink*
      November 11, 2011 5:34 am

      Thanks for finding us, Chin! ๐Ÿ˜‰ We love Malaysian food as well! Hopefully you will be able find some of the ingredients and Natto in particular!

  7. SueJin Lee permalink
    April 22, 2012 12:10 am

    I became a vegan as of Jan 2012. As a beginner, lots of things to be learned. I found your web site during my research on making seitan. (I love your seitan recipe, because no boiling or steaming involved after mixing dough.)
    I like natto as well. I live in Canada. I couldn’t find natto in my area. So I made natto from the scratch. Now, I always keep them in my fridge. I enjoy them as Japan-style natto and korean-style chung-kuk-jang soup as well.
    I love your blog and love your picture.

    Best wishes!!

    Sue from Canada

    • Sunnie permalink*
      April 22, 2012 12:03 pm

      Thanks for visiting Sue!! So awesome that you decided to go vegan. It’s pretty impressive that you make your own Natto, we probably should try that someday! Yes, we find our seitan recipe convenient because of the no boiling or steaming factor. Keep us posted about your journey as a vegan and let us know if you have any questions or suggestions regarding vegan lifestyle! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. Teju permalink
    November 13, 2012 5:07 am

    I didn’t know it is such a famous food. The Limbu and Rai community of Nepal do eat the same kind of food made from soybean and its called “Kinima”. But the process of making is bit different. We eat as a curry or soup.Shall try some of your recipes.

    • Bill permalink*
      November 14, 2012 10:36 pm

      Wow, that’s really interesting, Teju! We didn’t know that. Thanks for sharing, and we hope you enjoy the recipes!

  9. Connie permalink
    August 26, 2014 7:45 pm

    My mom makes the Korean-style natto at home. It’s a three day process, but so worth it to have a contant and plentiful supply. It’s the perfect way to maintain stomach and digestive health, esp. when on antibiotics or other medications that deplete the good bacteria.

    Love your website, been a long-time reader. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Sunnie permalink*
      August 31, 2014 2:34 pm

      You are so lucky, Connie! I wish I could do it. People who make it really say that it’s absolutely worth it. Maybe sometime in the future… =)

  10. Winn permalink
    February 19, 2015 5:21 am

    I love love love natto/chunggukjang. I make it at home when I have time and freeze it in packets. When I run out I go to the Korean store and buy a lot of boxes! I am eating it right now on half of an avocado with a side of grape tomatoes and lacto fermented okra. It is so delicious! I love your blog!

    • Sunnie permalink*
      February 19, 2015 9:59 am

      Thanks, Winn! So glad to hear that you like the blog – I’m also very happy to find a person who loves natto/chunggukjang as much as I do! =)

  11. Jane permalink
    January 13, 2016 11:23 pm

    I came across your website and happy to learn more about natto beans. I have been having stomach problems for a little over a year, after a course of antibiotics for H Pylori. My problems such as indigestion, nausea, and even vomit when certain foods don’t sit well. I also do not have appetite but constantly get hungry. I wonder if this natto will help to alliveate all these symptoms. I shall give it a try. Enjoy reading your blog.

    • Bill permalink*
      January 16, 2016 8:24 pm

      Sunnie has found great improvements to her stomach health by not eating or drinking cold foods or beverages and doing daily 10 minute leg soaks (below knees) in hot water (110-120 degrees f). You might try that too and see what it does for you!

  12. June 8, 2017 6:47 pm

    I love natto, although not Mito (if I had to eat Mito, then I’d agree with you that it doesn’t taste that good). I’m actually in extended GI distress from overdoing the veggies. Apparently my system can’t handle that much fiber. So right now I’m on a diet of broth, tea, & natto. Planning to try banana later if I feel brave enough.

    • Bill permalink*
      July 12, 2017 4:38 pm

      Sorry to hear that. Raw veggies in particular can cause difficulties in our experience. Best wishes for a healthy stomach!

  13. Andrew permalink
    January 2, 2018 3:48 pm

    I love natto! I always get the same you have pictured here (I once bought a different brand, the beans were slightly larger and the flavor was… not good). I usually squeeze the packet of mustard on, sprinkle a bit of togarashi, and a couple dashes of Bragg’s liquid aminos (similar to soy sauce).

    • Bill permalink*
      January 2, 2018 9:41 pm

      Glad you enjoy. Yes, this is our favorite brand!


  1. Vegan Chung-gook-jang-jigae Recipe « The Vegan 8 Korean

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