You may have doused your sushi and Chinese food with soy sauce countless times. It may be a condiment with a permanent spot in your pantry. But have you given much thought to what's in it? Here's a quick primer on this Asian condiment.
Did You Know?
A tablespoon of most soy sauce is about 61% of your daily recommended salt intake! Salt is an important component of soy sauce production, however, excessive salt intake can cause hypertension, which increases the risk of stroke, heart and kidney disease. No worries! You can halve your salt intake by choosing the RIGHT soy sauce! Read on!
First, a Definition...
Soy sauce is brewed from only four basic ingredients: soybeans, wheat, brine water, and salt. It has an umami flavor created by naturally occurring free glutamates.
Buy Soy Sauce Like a Pro...
1. Go for Low Sodium Soy Sauce Brand
Look for sauces with a reduced salt label. Low sodium soy sauce usually contains 35% - 40% less sodium than regular soy sauce. This is because it has been taken out post-brewing, or less salt is added to the production process while more sugar and alcohol are added to control the proper chemical environment of fermentation. However, avoid those brands with added artificial flavor enhancers such as MSG! You can also compare a few brands and get the brand with the lowest sodium content. Always check the nutrition facts at the back when you’re shopping for your groceries.
2. Take note of the Other Sources of Sodium
Avoid brands with additives and preservatives added. Read the ingredient list and take note of all sources of sodium, e.g., monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium benzoate, sodium nitrate, and flavor enhancers.
3. Opt for Brewed Soy Sauce
Broadly speaking, it falls into two camps: naturally brewed or fermented, and chemically produced (non-brewed). Naturally brewed soy sauce has an aroma and complexity of flavor while non-brewed soy sauce has a sharp aroma and is overly salty. It’s usually a mixture of hydrolyzed soy protein and flavorings such as corn syrup, caramel, and salt. Besides, naturally brewed soy sauce is fermented for months or longer while chemical (non-brewed) soy sauce is produced quickly within days.
Use It Like a Masterchef...
Written by: Foo Jia Qi
BSc (Hons) Nutrition With Wellness
Reviewed by: Jasmine Lim
Love Earth Organic Nutritionist
Bachelor of Science Degree in
Dietetics (major) & Food Science (minor)
Iowa State University, USA
Center for the Advancement of Foodservice Education (CAFÉ). (2019). Fermented and Traditionally Brewed Soy Sauce Worth the Wait. https://cafemeetingplace.com/features/item/1980-fermented-and-traditionally-brewed-soy-sauce-worth-the-wait
Mandl, E. (2017). How Is Soy Sauce Made and Is It Bad for You? https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-soy-sauce-bad-for-you#TOC_TITLE_HDR_5
Stroke Foundation. (2018). New Report Finds Swapping Your Soy Sauce Can Halve Your Salt Intake. https://strokefoundation.org.au/News/2018/11/12/23/15/New-Report-Finds-Swapping-Your-Soy-Sauce-Can-Halve-Your-Salt-Intake