Like most people, you probably have a bottle of soy sauce in your kitchen cupboard. Soy sauce is one of the most popular condiments in the culinary world, especially in Asian cooking. So, it may be a shock to learn that it’s not actually very good for you!
Although much of the soy sauce consumed in Asian countries is naturally brewed and even has some health benefits, commercially-available soy sauces in the US are not. Many of these products contain high amounts of salt and artificial additives such as monosodium glutamate (MSG).
In fact, just one tablespoon of soy sauce can contain around 1000 milligrams of sodium, which is almost half of an adult’s recommended intake for one day!
If you’re on a low-sugar diet like the Candida diet, you should also know that most soy sauce contains sugar that is added during the manufacturing process.
Fortunately, there’s an excellent alternative to soy sauce that looks and tastes very similar. Best of all, it’s low in additives and full of nutritional benefits!
Coconut Aminos: The Healthy Alternative To Soy Sauce
Coconut aminos has leapt into the spotlight in the last few years, partly due to the paleo diet trend. It’s an amazing, savory condiment made organically from the nectar of the coconut blossom (also known as coconut sap). The sap is extracted from the coconut palm and naturally fermented in a special aging process, then blended with sea salt. And that’s the only extra ingredient. The result is a rich, dark sauce with a unique salty-sweet taste. What’s even more amazing is that it doesn’t taste like coconut at all.
Many people find coconut aminos to be very similar to tamari sauce, which is made from soy beans. However, coconut aminos is totally soy-free and gluten-free, so it’s ideal for those who are intolerant of soy or wheat products. Coconut aminos is also kosher, vegan and free of GMOs and MSG. It’s also much lower in sodium: many coconut amino products contain around 73 percent less sodium than soy sauce.
But that’s not all. Coconut aminos are believed to be a healthy way to improve the gut microbiome (great for anyone with Candida symptoms), protect the heart and reduce the risk of some cancers.
6 Reasons Why Soy Sauce May Not Be So Good For You
Although soy sauce is undoubtedly popular, there are a number of reasons that will make you want to skip it altogether.
Soy is high in phytoestrogens, which is the term used to describe a plant estrogen that mimics or antagonizes the estrogen we make in our bodies. This may be beneficial during menopause, when estrogen levels are low. However, the potential for phytoestrogens to disrupt natural estrogen levels is generally undesirable as it can contribute to hormonal diseases, fertility issues and even some cancers.
It’s believed that up to 93 percent of soy sauce made in the U.S is from genetically modified soy beans. The long-term effects of GMO foods are currently unknown, but it is feared that they can have serious consequences for future generations.
Although many people don’t realize this, gluten and other traces of wheat are often present in many soy sauce products. This can be problematic for anyone suffering from a gut dysbiosis like Candida, or damage to the intestinal walls like leaky gut syndrome.
- Unfermented Soy
Most soy sauce products contain unfermented soy beans. These are associated with a number of negative health effects due to their high levels of toxins, which can cause gastrointestinal issues.
- Manufacturing Process
Commercial soy sauce is made through a process called ‘acid hydrolyzation’. This involves heating defatted hydrolyzed soy protein with hydrochloric acid, and adding sodium carbonate. It’s then mixed with some ‘real’ soy sauce, as well as sugar, caramel coloring and other additives. The result is then refined, pasteurized and bottled.
But that’s not the end of it! The glutamase used in the manufacturing of this soy sauce creates large amounts of glutamic acid, which is similar to the glutamate in MSG.
Monosodium glutamate is an excitotoxin, which means it has the potential to overstimulate nerve cells. This stimulation can lead to inflammation, hormonal fluctuations, brain damage, impaired learning, and even retinal damage.
4 Benefits Of Coconut Aminos Compared To Soy Sauce
- Amino Acids
As the name suggests, Coconut aminos contains naturally-occurring amino acids – an estimated 17 amino acids in fact! These amino acids are the building blocks of our body cells, tissues and muscles. Amino acids are also required for a huge variety of bodily functions involving the heart, digestion and our mood.
- Healthy Prebiotics
Coconut sap is also thought to contain a naturally occurring prebiotic called fructooligosaccharide (FOS). FOS is a type of starch that cannot be completely broken down in the gut, so it becomes a form of food for good bacteria. This prebiotic is present due to the natural fermentation process used to create the sauce. A prebiotic ‘feeds’ healthy bacteria in the gut and helps to maintain the right conditions for the growth of more good bacteria.
- Gut-Friendly Nutrients
Coconut aminos contains a host of important nutrients, including potassium, Beta-carotene, calcium, sodium, magnesium, Iron, phosphorous, and some anti-oxidants.
- No Sugar Rush
The low glycemic index of coconut aminos means it won’t produce a sharp spike in blood sugar, which is typical of other sweetened condiments. Most soy sauce has added sugar. This makes coconut aminos a good choice for those trying to control their blood sugar levels on an anti-Candida diet.
How Do You Use Coconut Aminos?
The great thing about coconut aminos is that it’s incredibly versatile. You can use it just as you would use soy sauce or tamari sauce: in most cases, you can substitute it one-for-one. Use it in stir-fries, salads, on meats, vegetables, as a dipping sauce, and even in soups and stews. It’s also delicious sprinkled over a bowl of fruit!
Where Can You Get Coconut Aminos?
Coconut aminos is available in good health stores and some supermarkets. It’s important to check the nutrition label to be sure that it has been naturally brewed and contains no additives apart from sea salt. Coconut Secret is a good brand, and you can find it here.
Recipes Using Coconut Aminos
You can use coconut aminos in any recipe that calls for soy sauce! We’ve got a few gut-friendly, Candida-safe recipes to get you started:
If you’d like to learn more about healthy eating for gut imbalances like Candida overgrowth, check out our Ultimate Candida Diet program. I wrote it with Dr. Eric Wood and it contains lots of advice on probiotic foods, natural antifungals, and how to make tasty food without added sugar.