A condiment common to Asian cuisine, soy sauce was discovered in China more than 2,500 years ago, according to manufacturer Kikkoman. Soy sauce adds a pungent, salty taste to your food, along with a range of nutritional benefits.
A Source of Sodium
A 1-teaspoon serving of soy sauce, also known as tamari, has 335 milligrams of sodium, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database. While sodium is an essential mineral, required for basic bodily functions, including nerve transmission and regulating your blood pressure, the recommended upper limit of sodium for adults is 2,300 milligrams per day. It drops to 1,500 milligrams per day for those who have a history of cardiovascular disease, are African American or who are 51 or older.
Same Taste, Less Sodium Than Salt
Because of soy sauce's rich flavor, less is required to produce the same taste profile as table salt. This means that, despite its relatively high sodium content, it can help keep your sodium consumption under control. As most Americans have too much sodium in their diet, using soy sauce in place of sodium could help reduce how much sodium you take in in a day, without compromising on taste. A 2009 publication in the “Journal of Food Science” found that substituting naturally brewed soy sauce for table salt in foods did not lower the taste intensity of the food, despite the fact that the total sodium content was reduced. In some cases, there was 50 percent less sodium in the foods and no discernible change in taste.
A 2005 review in the “Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering” found that soy sauce had anti-allergenic properties. In an cell-line study, shoyu polysaccharides, produced during the fermentation process required to make soy sauce, demonstrated potent anti-allergic abilities. In a human study, participants who ingested soy sauce and had allergies exhibited more improvement than those taking the placebo. The scientists concluded that soy sauce held great promise in treating allergies, although further study was needed.
In 2005, the “Journal of Bisoscience and Bioengineering” published a review of several studies conducted on soy sauce and found that it was very high in shoyuflavones, a natural antioxidant. Natural antioxidants protect your body from damage from free radicals, which your body makes naturally as it digests food. Free radicals can speed up the aging process, as well as potentially increasing your risk of developing heart disease or cancer. The author of the review concluded that the antioxidants in soy sauce helped reduce the effects of inflammation, as well as improved overall gastric acid production, thus helping with digestion. Additionally, the antimicrobial properties of soy sauce were found to be effective in protecting the body from certain bacteria.
- Kikkoman: Soy Sauce Basics
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Soy Sauce Made From Soy (Tamari)
- Colorado State University Extension: Sodium and the Diet
- Journal of Food Science: Salt Reduction in Foods Using Naturally Brewed Soy Sauce
- Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering: Immunological Functions of Soy Sauce -- Hypoallergenicity and Antiallergic Activity of Soy Sauce
- Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering: Functional Effects of Japanese Style Fermented Soy Sauce (Shoyu) and Its Components
- MedlinePlus: Antioxidants