A vegan food renowned in Asia for its ability to protect against heart attacks also shows a powerful ability in lab experiments to prevent formation of the clumps of tangled protein involved in Alzheimer’s disease, scientists in Taiwan are reporting.
Rita P. Y. Chen and colleagues point out that people in Asia have been eating natto — a fermented food made from boiled soybeans —for more than 1,000 years. Natto contains an enzyme, nattokinase, that has effects similar to clot-busting drugs used in heart disease.Nattokinase is sold a dietary supplement to improve the body’s circulatory system.
The scientists term this the first study on whether nattokinase also can dissolve amyloids. Those tangled proteins are involved in Alzheimer’s disease and several other health problems.
In the study, the nattokinase degraded several kinds of amyloid fibrils, suggesting its possible use in the treatment of amyloid-related diseases. “Moreover, since natto has been ingested by humans for a long time, it would be worthwhile to carry out an epidemiological study on the rate of occurrence of various amyloid-related diseases in a population regularly consuming natto,” the scientists say.
- Hsu et al. Amyloid-Degrading Ability of Nattokinase from Bacillus subtilis Natto. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2009; 57 (2): 503 DOI: 10.1021/jf803072r
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