Natto Vs Tempeh What’s the Difference?

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Fermented foods have gained significant popularity recently due to their unique flavors and potential health benefits. Among these fermented foods, natto and tempeh have emerged as popular choices. This article will express the differences and similarities between natto and tempeh, two fermented soybean products. By understanding their origins, production processes, nutritional profiles, and health benefits, you can make an informed decision about incorporating these foods into your diet.


Natto is a traditional Japanese dish that originated centuries ago. It is made by fermenting soybeans using a specific strain of bacteria called Bacillus subtilis var. natto. During fermentation, the bacteria produce an enzyme that breaks down the soybean proteins, resulting in natto’s characteristic sticky texture and intense aroma.

Nutritionally, natto is a powerhouse. It is an excellent source of protein, containing all the essential amino acids necessary for optimal health. Additionally, natto is rich in vitamin K2, crucial in bone health and blood clotting. This makes natto particularly beneficial for individuals at risk of osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases.

Regarding taste and texture, natto has a distinct flavor described as nutty and savory. Its surface is slimy and sticky, which might take some getting used to for those unfamiliar with fermented foods.


Tempeh, on the other hand, originates from Indonesia and has a long history as a staple food in Southeast Asia. It is made by fermenting cooked soybeans with a fungus called Rhizopus oligosporus. The fungus binds the soybeans together, forming a firm cake-like product.

From a nutritional standpoint, tempeh is highly regarded. It is an excellent source of plant-based protein, containing a comparable amount to meat. Additionally, tempeh is rich in dietary fiber, which promotes digestion and helps maintain a healthy gut. Some studies suggest that regular consumption of tempeh may have cholesterol-lowering effects, making it a heart-healthy choice.

In terms of taste and texture, tempeh has a nutty and slightly earthy flavor. Its surface is firm and chewy, similar to a meaty texture, making it a popular choice among individuals seeking plant-based protein alternatives.

Natto vs. Tempeh: Differences

When comparing natto and tempeh, several notable differences emerge. Firstly, the production methods differ. Natto is fermented using specific bacteria, while tempeh relies on a fungal fermentation process. This distinction contributes to the contrasting flavors and textures of the two products.

Secondly, their nutritional profiles differ. Natto is known for its high protein content and vitamin K2 levels, making it a beneficial choice for bone health and blood clotting. On the other hand, tempeh excels in providing protein and dietary fiber, making it an ideal option for those seeking a plant-based protein source with added digestive benefits.

Lastly, the unique health benefits of each fermented food are worth mentioning. Natto’s vitamin K2 content supports cardiovascular health and bone density, while tempeh’s probiotic properties and potential cholesterol-lowering effects make it a valuable addition to a heart-healthy diet.

Natto vs. Tempeh: Similarities

Despite their differences, natto and tempeh share some similarities. Both undergo fermentation processes that enhance their nutritional value and introduce probiotic properties. This means that natto and tempeh can contribute to a healthy gut microbiome and aid digestion.

Additionally, natto and tempeh are versatile ingredients that can be incorporated into various dishes. They can be used as a protein source in stir-fries, salads, sandwiches or even as a filling for vegetarian burgers. Their unique flavors and textures add depth and complexity to recipes, making them a favorite among those seeking culinary diversity.


Does tempeh taste like natto?

No, tempeh does not taste like natto. While tempeh and natto are fermented soybean products, they have distinct flavors. Natto has a unique, intense, and somewhat nutty flavor, along with a sticky texture. On the other hand, tempeh has a nutty and slightly earthy flavor with a firm and chewy texture. The taste and texture of natto and tempeh are different from each other.

What is natto similar to?

Natto has a unique taste and texture that is difficult to compare directly to other foods. However, some people describe the flavor of natto as similar to fermented cheese or soy sauce. The sticky texture of natto can be compared to the surface of certain foods like okra or raw egg whites. However, it’s important to note that the taste and texture of natto are unique and may not be similar to anything you’ve tried before.

Can Muslims eat natto?

Yes, Muslims can consume natto. Natto is a fermented soybean product, and soybeans are permissible (halal) for consumption in Islamic dietary guidelines. However, it’s essential to ensure that the natto does not contain any non-halal ingredients or additives. As with any food, it’s advisable to check the ingredients or seek halal-certified products to ensure compliance with Islamic dietary restrictions.

What is the disadvantage of natto?

Natto has several advantages due to its nutritional profile and potential health benefits. However, there are a few disadvantages associated with natto as well. The pungent aroma and intense flavor of natto can be off-putting to some people who are not accustomed to fermented foods. Additionally, the slimy texture may be challenging for individuals who prefer a different texture in their food.

Who cannot take natto?

While natto can be a nutritious and beneficial food for many individuals, some groups may need to exercise caution or avoid consuming it. People with a soy allergy should avoid natto, made from fermented soybeans. Additionally, individuals taking blood-thinning medications or having blood clotting disorders should consult their healthcare provider before consuming natto, as it contains high levels of vitamin K2, which can interfere with blood clotting.


Natto and tempeh are two fermented soybean products that offer distinct flavors, textures, and nutritional benefits. Natto, originating from Japan, is known for its sticky texture, pungent aroma, and high protein and vitamin K2 content. Tempeh, originating from Indonesia, has a firm, chewy texture, and nutty flavor and is rich in protein and dietary fiber.

While natto and tempeh have differences in production methods, flavors, and nutritional profiles, they also share similarities. Both undergo fermentation, providing probiotic benefits and aiding digestion. Moreover, they offer versatility in cooking, allowing you to explore various culinary possibilities.

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