Globalization opened the doors for many regional foods to enter the rest of the world. If you are confused between two such products-  natto vs tofu, then as a nutritionist I’m here to help.

Natto and tofu, two soy products from Japan and China, are getting popular worldwide. Let’s unfold the differences between natto and tofu so that you can pick the right one.

Natto vs Tofu: Find Out the Differences Before You Decide to Pick One

Here is a quick analysis of natto vs tofu nutrition and benefits, before we go into details: 


Soybeans & Culture


Soybeans & Water


Earthy & Slimy


Mild & Soft


50-100 g


100 g






14 g*


1.9 g*


11 g*


4.8 g*


18 g*


8 g*


217  mg*


350 mg*


 5.4 g*


0.3 g*




Very Good


Morning & Noon


Morning & Noon




Very Good




Very Good






Very Good 




3-4 days


4-5 Days

*Source: USDA; Quantity defined is 100 grams

Natto vs Tofu: Comparing the Key Ingredients and Making Process

Natto is made of whole soybeans which are fermented with a strain of yeast culture called Bacillus Subtilis. First, the beans are soaked for about 4-5 hours and then boiled. After that yeast is added and left for around 20 hours for fermentation. 

Tofu, also known as bean curd, is created by coagulating soy milk. As coagulants nigari salt (magnesium chloride) or gypsum (calcium sulfate) are used. Resulting curd is pressed with weights to form a block of tofu. 

Natto vs Tofu: How Different Are Their Taste and Texture?

Natto has a slimy texture and has a unique earthy and savory taste. Its distinct flavor and smell is not easy to adapt for many people. The size of soybeans in the natto can vary from large to small.

Tofu blocks can be extra firm, firm or soft. It looks like a cheese block from outside due to its white or pale white color.

Tofu has a very mild flavor or is almost tasteless. If you are preparing it with nigari salt then it will be a little bitter than the one which is made of gypsum. 

What Is the Suggested Daily Intake of Natto vs Tofu?

Natto and tofu both are getting famous throughout the world because of their nutritional values. So, you can add these soy foods in your regular diet to get maximum benefits from them. 

Normally, you can have 3 servings of soy products a day. Based on that you can add up to 100 grams of tofu and 50-100 grams of natto per day.

If you are trying these or any soy products for the first time, start with small quantities, especially with natto. 

How Does Miso Fare Against Natto & Tofu?

| Miso Vs Natto |

| Miso Vs Tofu |

Calorific Difference Between Natto vs Tofu

Speaking of calories, there is a significant difference between natto and tofu. Tofu contains much less calories in comparison to natto. 

This makes tofu a popular vegan protein choice among those who are bound to a weight loss journey or simply don’t like calorie dense foods. 

Which Will Give You More Carbs: Natto or Tofu?

Carbs are one of the macronutrients which are made of sugar, starch and dietary fiber. Carbs provide you energy to work well. Your need for carbs depends on many factors including age, gender and activity level. 

Just like calories, tofu contains much less carbs compared to natto. Tofu is an ideal option for a vegan keto diet, which includes low carbohydrates foods and beverages. 

What Is the Fat Content of Natto vs Tofu?

If you are a health enthusiast or can’t consume fat rich foods due to medical reasons, then tofu is certainly for you. 

Tofu has half of the fat content of natto. Tofu also has less saturated fat compared to natto. Saturated fat is considered bad for your heart health. Tofu and natto both are lower in cholesterol. 

Natto vs Tofu Nutrition in Terms of Protein

Protein is another macronutrient which is essential for many functions in your body including building and maintaining the strength of bones. 

Natto and tofu both are made of soybeans which is considered as complete protein. A complete protein means it gives you all essential 9 amino acids, small compounds which create protein. However, natto is a better option since it contains more protein than tofu.

Natto vs Tofu: How Much Calcium Will You Get?

Calcium is a vital micronutrient especially for children, pregnant and post menopausal women.

When we compare the both, we find that tofu is a better source of calcium when compared to natto.. Therefore, it is a better to pick tofu to meet your calcium needs.  

A Fiber Rich Option: Natto or Tofu

Fiber is a type of carbs which your body can’t digest. Fiber is needed to maintain digestive health, to control the sugar level and for much more. 

The process of making soy milk takes away most of the fiber of soybeans. On the other hand, whole boiled soybeans are used to prepare natto. Due to this basic difference of ingredients, tofu has much less fiber than natto.

Natto or Tofu: Which One Will Give You a Variety of Nutrients?

In terms of nutritional diversity, it is difficult to choose one over another. As we saw above, natto has more protein, calcium and fiber whereas tofu is a low calorie, carbs and low fat food option.

Minerals create the main difference between them. Natto is rich in almost all your daily minerals needs whereas tofu completes it up to 77%.

Besides that natto has a natural enzyme called Nattokinase which has many scientifically-proven health benefits. These points give an advantage to natto. 

What Is the Apt Time to Have Natto vs Tofu?

In Japan natto is the part of breakfast as the topping for rice or inside a rice ball known as onigiri. However, due to its strong smell it might be difficult for many to have it in the morning. I will suggest you to add this nutritious fermented food to your lunch. 

You can have tofu for breakfast like other east Asian people. It is a low carb and protein rich food which is perfect to start the day. It is also a healthy option for a midday meal or for a light supper to crunch the hunger. 

Better for Gut Health: Natto or Tofu

Your gut health impacts your overall physical and mental health. Healthy digestive system is also critical to develop your immunity. 

Natto is a fermented food and filled with gut flora bacteria. Natto also has more fiber compared to tofu. This makes natto a better choice to maintain bowel health.

If you have soy allergy then compared to tofu, natto is a better choice due to its probiotic property.  

Natto vs Tofu: Are They Favorable to Dental Health?

Both natto and tofu are excellent plant based sources of protein and calcium. Hence, they both are considered good for your oral health. 

However, natto is a better choice since it has more calcium and protein than tofu. Natto also contains friendly bacteria which helps to prevent oral infection and reduces the impact of bad bacteria. 

Bone Health: Outcomes of Natto vs Tofu 

Protein is an essential macronutrient for strong bones. Both natto and miso contain all 9 amino acids which are requirements to make protein by the body. 

Besides that, they both have minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium and copper, which are 

Important to maintain strong bones. Since natto has more protein, calcium and other micronutrients, it is considered better than tofu for bones. 

How Differently Can Natto vs Tofu Be Used?

Natto and tofu, both can be added to your diet in many different ways.

Natto is usually eaten with sticky small grain rice. People in Japan often mix it with soy or mustard sauce to enhance its flavor. You can also add it to your salad or as a topping of pizza. 

Compared to natto, tofu is more versatile.

You can add tofu to your fried rice, noodles, curries or eat it straight with soy or mustard sauce. You can fry, grill or stir fry to make it more delectable. Scrambled tofu is an excellent vegan substitute of scrambled egg. 

Which Can Stay for Long: Natto or Tofu?

Both natto and tofu have a short life span. Once fermented, store natto in the fridge and consume it within 3-4 days. Try to have natto as fresh as possible. 

Tofu also has the same shelf life as natto. Store tofu in the fridge to keep it fresh. If you are not planning to use it for long then keep it in the freezer after putting in an airtight container. 

I would like to conclude here that choosing between natto and tofu is a matter of your preferences and availability.  You can find tofu easily in nearby stores but it is difficult to find natto. It is also more expensive than tofu. 

Hope I’m able to clear your doubts regarding natto vs tofu and you are well informed now to pick the best one for yourself.