How Do the Japanese Fermented Foods Natto and Miso Differ?

Rohit Panwar

Natto vs Miso, wondering which one will go well to your needs. As a nutritionist I will guide you by analyzing differences and benefits of natto and miso. 

I am here to give all the required details about popular fermented foods natto and miso. It will help you to make an informed choice between them. 

A Closer Look at Natto Vs Miso: Differences & Similarities 

 Let’s take a comparative look at Natto vs miso nutritional values and health benefits: 


Whole Soybeans & Yeast Culture


Mashed Soybeans & Mold Culture


Earthy & Slimy


Salty, Umami & Thick 


100-200 grams


1-2 Tablespoon






14 g*


25 g*


11 g*


6 g*


18 g*


13 g*


217  mg*


57 mg*


5.4 g*


5.4 g*








Noon or Evening


Very Good












3-4 Days


1-2 Years

*Source: USDA; Quantity defined is 100 grams

Natto vs Miso: Know the Differences of Ingredients and Preparation 

Natto is made by fermenting whole soybeans  by adding yeast culture named Bacillus Subtilis. You can use any size of soybeans for making natto, however small size is most common.

For making natto, soak the beans for 4-5 hours and boil them. Once cooked add the yeast and keep for fermentation for around 20 hours. 

Miso is made of mashed soybeans and mold culture. This mold culture is widely known as “koji”.  Where in natto only soybeans are there, in miso other grains like barley, wheat or rice powder is also added.

Fermentation duration of miso varies from months to years, depending what kind of miso you are making. 

Natto vs Miso: Better Taste and Texture

People often ask “Is natto taste like miso in taste”. I would say -Not at all.  If you are trying natto for the first time then you must be careful about its unique odor and slimy texture.

Natto’s odour takes time to getting used to, however it tastes mild and earthy. Many people compare its smell to rotten cheese. 

On the contrary, miso has a smooth texture similar to peanut butter. It is salty and umami in taste. It is highly salted and it is not recommended to eat it straight. 

Optimal Amount of Natto vs Miso for Everyday Consumption

According to FDA, 2-3 servings of soybeans per day is totally acceptable. Natto and Miso are soy products and you can easily add them to your daily diet. 

You can have 100-200 grams of natto, depending on needs and preferences. However, miso is a high sodium food and you should limit its intake to 1-2 tablespoons. 

Natto vs Miso: Which Has More Calories?

Natto has more calories in comparison to miso. 100 grams of natto will give you 212 calories whereas miso will give 198.

 However, the recommended intake of miso is much less than natto, so effectively miso won’t give you that much calories. 

Natto or Miso: What to Pick for Lower Carbs?

Carbohydrates, also known as carbs are like fuel for your body. In comparison to natto, miso contains much more carbs. 

The carbs in natto and miso are the combination of dietary fibre, sugar and starch.  If you are looking for a low carbs option then natto will be better for you. 

Which Has Lower Fat: Natto or Miso?

Difference in natto and miso in terms of fat content is on a higher side. Natto has almost double the fats than miso. 

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

Natto or Miso: More Protein-Rich Food

Is natto the same as miso in terms of protein content? No, not really. Natto has more protein compared to miso. 

Besides that, per day consumption of miso is quite less than natto. 1-2 tablespoons of miso won’t give you enough protein. Natto is considered a great source of protein for vegetarians and vegans. 

Better Calcium Source: Natto or Miso

Calcium is another nutrient where miso lags behind natto. Natto has much more calcium compared to miso. 

Introduce natto to your teenage children to give them enough calcium and to develop its taste in the early stage of life. 

Which Has More Fiber: Natto or Miso?

Dietary fiber helps to digest the food easily and maintains a healthy bowel movement. It is important to add fiber rich foods in your daily diet.

Natto and miso contain the same amount of fiber. Although, a large amount of recommended daily intake of natto will give you more fiber compared to miso. 

Which Offers More Nutritional Diversity Between Natto and Miso?

If you compare nutritional diversity then natto is the clear winner compared to miso.

Besides being a rich source of protein and calcium, natto also contains manganese, iron, copper, vitamin K, magnesium, potassium, zinc and selenium. All these nutrients promote your overall health. 

Miso also has few micronutrients such as iron, manganese, copper but since it’s consumed in a small amount it is not considered as a good source to provide you enough benefits.

However, miso has high amount of sodium even in 1 tablespoon, so make sure you consume in moderation.

Best Time to Have Natto vs Miso

Traditionally in Japan, people have natto in the morning for breakfast. Although, I personally feel that for non-Japanese people it might be difficult to have natto in the morning due to its strong smell. You can combine natto with your lunch. 

You can add miso paste in soups and curries. In Japan, people have miso soup with rice for breakfast. You can try it for your lunch and dinner as well. However, stick to suggested daily intake. 

More Tummy Friendly: Natto or Miso?

Both natto and miso are fermented foods. The probiotics or good bacteria in them work in improving digestion and fighting infections

As I mentioned earlier, miso is consumed in a small quantity so it doesn’t give you as many good bacteria as natto. For a healthy digestion pick natto over miso. 

Natto or Miso: Better for Bones and Teeth

For strong bones and teeth protein and calcium are two essential nutrients. Compared to miso, natto gives you more of these. 

Besides protein and calcium, natto is full of probiotics which are considered helpful to improve your overall oral health. Probiotics protect your gums from infection and fight with bad bacteria in the mouth. 

Natto vs Miso: How Can They Be Consumed?

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. Take it out from the fridge and have it cold, it tastes better like this. 

Miso paste is much more versatile compared to natto. You can add miso in your soup, curries, or rice dishes. You can also combine it with mustard sauce or other dressings.

Keeping miso paste in your pantry can be handy in many ways. Remember not to add salt in your dish if you are using miso.

Which Can Stored Longer: Natto or Miso?

Once fermented natto can stay for 3-4 days if stored in the refrigerator. I will suggest that you consume it as fresh as possible. 

Miso can last usually for 1-2 years. Each kind of miso paste has a different shelf life, you can check it on the pack. You can either store it in the fridge to avoid any mold or at room temperature in a dark place. Keep it away from direct sunlight. 

Natto and miso, both are dairy free, vegan and environmentally friendly plant based foods. However, some miso contains wheat so if you have gluten allergy then you must check the label. 

In conclusion, I will say that between natto vs miso, pick natto as it is pecked with many beneficial nutrients. However, you can keep miso at home to give your dishes a umami flavor. 

I hope this helped you to clear your doubts regarding natto vs miso. If you still have some queries, do write to me in the comment section. 

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.