Newswise — Natto, a fermented soybean dish often served for breakfast in Japan, originated at the turn of the last millennium but may hold an answer to a modern problem: COVID-19, according to a new study based on cell cultures.
Long thought to contribute to longer, healthier lives across Japan — the country with the longest life expectancy on Earth and home to more than a quarter of the world’s population aged 65 years or older — natto was previously found to be a diet staple in those who were least likely to die from stroke or cardiac disease. Now, researchers have found that extract made from the sticky, strong smelling natto may inhibit the ability of the virus that causes COVID-19 to infect cells.
The team published its results on July 13th in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications.
“Traditionally, Japanese people have assumed that natto is beneficial for their health,” said paper author Tetsuya Mizutani, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Epidemiology and Prevention Research at the Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology (CEPiR-TUAT). “In recent years, research studies have revealed scientific evidence for this belief. In this study, we investigated natto’s antiviral effects on SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and bovine herpesvirus 1 (BHV-1), which causes respiratory disease in cattle.”
Natto is made by fermenting soybeans with Bacillus subtilis, a bacteria found in plant and in soil. The researchers prepared two natto extracts from the food, one with heat and one without. They applied the