Natto or Kimchi: What Can Be a Better Pick for You?

Rohit Panwar

With the support of recent scientific research, many traditional fermented foods have gained popularity. However, this often leads to confusion in choosing between popular options such as natto vs kimchi. 

As a nutritionist, I will assist you to differentiate these two East Asian probiotic gems. Knowing this will allow you to make the best choice between natto and kimchi. 

Natto vs Kimchi: An Overview of Differences and Similarities

Before delve in details, let’s take a quick look at the natto vs kimchi nutrition and outcomes: 


Soybeans & Yeast Culture


Vegetables & Spices


Earthy & Slimy


Spicy, Salty & Sour


20-24 Hours


2-6 Weeks


100-200 grams


50-100 grams






14 g*




11 g*


 0 g*


18 g*


1.17 g*


217 mg*


47 mg*


 5.4 g*




 6.9 mg*


341 mg*




Very Good


Morning & Noon


Noon & Evening 




Very Good




Very Good






Very Good 




3-4 days


3-6 Months

*Source: USDA; Quantity defined is 100 grams

Ingredients, Origin and Preparation Method of Natto vs Kimchi

Originated from Japan, natto are whole boiled soybeans which are fermented by adding yeast culture named Bacillus Subtilis

The process of making natto starts with soaking the soybeans for around 6-7 hours. Then soaked beans are boiled and after adding the yeast and kept for fermentation for around 20 hours. 

Kimchi is an integral part of Korean cuisine. It is made of chili powder, garlic and napa cabbage. Besides that, scallions, fish sauce and shrimp paste are also used to enhance the flavor. 

For making kimchi, vegetables are soaked in a brine which is made with salt and water. After that, chili and garlic powder are added along with other ingredients. 

Natto vs Kimchi: Know the Taste and Texture

Natto tastes mild, earthy and nutty. It has a gooey and slimy texture. Its unique odor can be compared to rotten cheese. You won’t love it on your first try but you will acquire its distinctive taste gradually. 

Kimchi is a flavorful combination of spicy, salty and sour taste. It is crunchy and slightly chewy in texture. It has a strong smell of garlic and shrimp which might not be pleasant for everyone. 

How Long Does Natto vs Kimchi Take To Get Fermented?

Natto takes 20-24 hours to ferment. It can be ready in 12 hours but if you want a strong taste then keep it for 24 hours. It is important to sterilize all the utensils which come in the contact of the starter.  

Kimchi will take around 2-6 weeks to get ready.  It requires regular monitoring if there is any mold in the jar. Don’t touch it with bare hands or with any metal spoon. Always use a wooden spoon to check it. 

Right Amount of Natto vs Kimchi Per Day

If you are new to natto and kimchi then start with the smaller quantities. Once you acquire their tastes and your stomach is accustomed to them, you increase the quantity gradually. 

You can have 100-200 grams of natto a day, depending on needs and preferences. Since kimchi is a spicy and salty food, consume it in moderation. You can have around 50-100 grams of kimchi a day.

Comparing Natto & Kimchi With Similar Fermented Foods

| Sauerkraut Vs Kimchi |

| Natto Vs Miso |

How Much Calories Natto vs Kimchi Contain?

Compared to kimchi, natto is a significantly high calorie food. This difference is due to their base ingredients. Soybean has more calories than cabbage which is the main ingredient of kimchi. 

If you are the one who is looking for a low calorie fermentation food, then kimchi is a better option for you compared to natto. 

Which Is Lower in Carbs: Natto or Kimchi?

Carbs or carbohydrates are the main sources of the energy for the body. Even Though, they are beneficial in many ways, it is important to have them in moderation to avoid weight gain and high blood sugar.  

Compared to natto, kimchi has much less carbs because it is prepared with vegetables. Compared to beans and legumes, vegetables and fruits have less carbs. Hence, kimchi is a better pick for those who want to shed some unwanted weight. 

Natto or Kimchi: A Low Fat Pick

In terms of fat content, there is a substantial difference between natto and kimchi. Natto is a high fat food whereas kimchi doesn’t contain any fat. 

If you are trying to control your fat intake then pick kimchi over natto. However, I won’t suggest you cut down natto completely. You can reduce the serving size instead of complete “No, No”.

Better Protein Source: Natto or Kimchi

Protein is an essential macronutrient which you must add to your daily diet. It is needed by the body to grow, develop and repair.  Combine your daily diet with a variety of foods to get the right quantity and quality of protein.  

Natto has much more protein than kimchi. Kimchi contains a very little amount of protein. If you are an athlete then natto are a better choice for you over kimchi. 

What to Pick for More Calcium: Natto or Kimchi?

Calcium is a crucial mineral for your body and an integral part of a well-balanced diet. Each person’s requirement of calcium varies which mostly depends on their age and gender. Children, pregnant and postmenopausal women need calcium the most. 

There is a vast gap between the quantity of calcium provided by natto and kimchi. Natto is an excellent source of calcium whereas kimchi has very little of it. 

Natto or Kimchi: A Fiber Rich Option 

Fiber is a type of carbohydrate which is needed to maintain a healthy bowel movement, lowering your risk of type 2 diabetes and heart diseases and some types of cancer. 

Vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes are the rich sources of dietary fiber. Both natto and kimchi contain a good amount of fiber, however natto has comparatively more fiber than kimchi.  

Know the Sodium Level of Natto vs Kimchi

Sodium is a mineral which the body requires in a little quantity to work efficiently, hence less is better in terms of sodium intake. 

Compared to natto, kimchi is a considerably higher in sodium. This is the main reason to consume kimchi in moderation. If you are adding kimchi in your food then don’t put extra salt in it otherwise your recipe can be too salty. 

Nutritional Diversity of Natto vs Kimchi

As evident in the table above, natto is a rich source of protein, calcium and fiber. It also contains manganese, iron, copper, vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, zinc and selenium. 

All these nutrients promote your overall health. Besides these, natto contains nattokinase, which is widely known for its heart health benefits. 

Kimchi is low fat and low carb food which provides you many nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, niacin, iron, riboflavin and folate. Kimchi is also loaded with garlic’s antibacterial properties. 

This shows that both the products are almost equally diverse in terms of nutrition. However, natto has an advantage here since it is an excellent source of protein and calcium. 

What Is the Best Time of the Day to Have Natto vs Kimchi?

In Japan, people have natto with their breakfast. Although, it might be difficult to have natto in the morning due to its strong smell. I will suggest combining natto with your afternoon meal. Stir it well to enhance the flavor.

You can have kimchi anytime of the day. However, its pungent ingredients such as garlic and shrimp paste may not motivate you to have it with breakfast. It is better to add it as a side dish with lunch or dinner. 

Impact of Natto vs Kimchi on Your Gut Health

Natto and kimchi both contain probiotics which boost your gut health. Probiotics are friendly bacteria which promote digestion and reduce the associated disorders. 

Compared to kimchi, natto has more dietary fiber which makes it a better choice for the stomach. Fermentation reduces the allergen of soy, hence you can have natto, even if you have a soy allergy. Though it is recommended to consume in moderation. 

More Suitable for Your Oral and Bone Health: Natto or Kimchi

Both natto and kimchi contain vitamin K2, which is a crucial nutrient to improve your bone strength and density

Kimchi contains garlic, which is known for its antibacterial properties and helps to reduce plaque and gingivitis. However, natto has remarkably more protein and calcium than kimchi. Therefore it has greater benefits for oral and bone health. 

Natto vs Kimchi as Vegan Ally

Vegan diet doesn’t contain any kind of animal based products such as dairy, seafood, meat or poultry etc. Natto is completely plant based food, hence it can be part of a vegan diet. 

Since, shrimp and fish sauces are used to make kimchi, it can’t be added to a vegan platter. However, you can make your own vegan kimchi by skipping these two ingredients. 

Which Has More Uses: Natto or Kimchi?

Natto can be eaten straight with rice, on top of the toast or added in your burritos. Sticky Japanese rice complements the slimy nature of this fermented food. You can eat natto just after the fermentation, however it tastes better after keeping in the fridge overnight. 

Kimchi can be added as a side dish with your meal or you can have it as a snack or appetizer. It can be added to fried rice, fried noodles, soups or stews. You can also sprinkle it on the top of your salads

How Long Can Natto vs Kimchi Be Stored?

Compared to natto, kimchi has a longer shelf life. Kimchi can be stored for up to 6 months whereas natto can stay up to 3-4 days. 

Once fermented, store them in the refrigerator to avoid the further fermentation. Use a container with a tight lid to store them to avoid any smell in the fridge.

In conclusion, I will say that natto and kimchi both have strong nutritional profiles and you can choose either of them based on your preferences. 

However, natto is one step ahead in terms of overall health benefits due to high amounts of protein, calcium and fiber. 

Hope this detailed analysis of natto vs kimchi nutrition and their benefits helped you to pick the one which suits best to your requirements. 

Rohit Panwar

Hi! I'm Integrated Nutrition Coach Rohit Panwar. I hold twin Certifications from IIN, New York & SAFM, Massachusetts. I am a passionate vocalist of holistic lifestyle and have fully committed the past several years to educate & empower people towards their wellbeing. Despite a successful yet hectic corporate stint of 21+ years, I have prioritised nutriment in my life. I truly hope my personal journey from illness to wellness helps everybody reading this forge their own path.