Soy Sauce: Benefits, Nutrition Facts, Recipes, Risks, And Alternatives

Written by Sindhu Koganti

Did you know that the dark-colored flavored ingredient in your favorite Chinese dishes has many benefits? Soy sauce, a liquid condiment, originated in China about 2000 years ago. It is rich in antioxidants and nutrients, and its anti-inflammatory properties help treat many health conditions. This fermented seasoning helps promote digestion, reduces allergies, and lowers cholesterol levels. In this article, we explore how you can make soy sauce at home, its nutrition facts, health benefits, types, and potential risks you may keep in mind. Keep reading.

What Is Soy Sauce?

Soy sauce is the most consumed fermented liquid seasoning in the world. It originated from soy paste (Jiang) from the soybeans in China. It also gained popularity in other regions like Japan, Korea, Indonesia, and Western countries. Soy sauce is available in a variety of colors and flavors based on the production methods and regional preferences. You can add this condiment to cooked and uncooked food, and its salty and caramel-like taste enhances the aroma and taste of your dishes.

While you can always purchase soy sauce from the store, preparing it at home can be a different experience.

How To Make Soy Sauce Easily At Home?

You may like adding soy sauce to your noodles, curries, or other food items. This fermented seasoning adds color, good flavor, and an umami taste to the food. You can prepare this condiment with a minimum of four ingredients.

What You Need

  •  Soybeans – 4 cups
  •  Wheat flour – 4 cups
  •  Sea salt – 3 ½ cups
  •  Koji culture (Aspergillus oryzae) – as needed

Process

  1.  Wash 4 cups of soybeans and drain them. Fill a pot with 18 cups of water and add the soybeans. Let them soak for 24 hours.
  2.  Drain the excess water and cook the soybeans uncovered in the same pot for at least 4 to 5 hours on medium-high heat.
  3.  If you want to use a pressure cooker, add a cup of water with the soybeans and cover the lid. Cook on high heat for 20 minutes.
  4.  Mash the soybeans into a smooth paste using a food processor.
  5.  Add 4 cups of wheat flour to the soybean paste. Knead the dough thoroughly. Do not add extra water.
  6.  Sprinkle the Koji on your wheat and soy dough according to the instructions on the pack.
  7.  Evenly spread the soya mixture in a 3-inch deep stainless steel or glass tray as a 2-inch layer.
  8.  Let the tray rest in a humid and warm place for two days, undisturbed.
  9.  Dissolve the 3 ½ cups of sea salt or Himalayan pink salt in the 16 cups of water. Mix until the salt thoroughly dissolves in the water.
  10.  Add your dried soy blocks to a large jar and pour the brine over it. There should be enough space on top so that you can stir it regularly for the first week and once every week for the next 6 to 12 months.
  11.  Store the jar in a warm and humid place where it will not be disturbed.
  12.  Strain using a cheesecloth and press the solids with a spatula until all the liquid is extracted.
  13.  Heat this liquid on medium-high heat at a temperature of 79 degrees Celsius for 20 minutes. When the sauce cools down, refrigerate it in a tightly covered bottle.

This is how you can prepare soy sauce at home. Scroll down to find the nutrition facts of soy sauce.

Soy Sauce Nutrition Facts

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one tablespoon of soy sauce contains:

  •  Energy: 10.8 kcal
  •  Protein: 1.89 g
  •  Fat: 0.018 g
  •  Carbohydrate: 1 g
  •  Fiber: 0.144 g
  •  Calcium: 3.6 mg
  •  Sodium: 1010 mg

Soy sauce is also rich in iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, copper, and potassium. It is very salty due to its high sodium content.

This condiment is replete with a wide variety of vitamins and minerals that offer important benefits. We will explore them in the next section.

What Are The Health Benefits Of Soy Sauce?

1. May Promote Digestion

The microorganisms used in the fermentation of soy sauce have probiotic properties that help improve digestion. A review published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggests that the polyphenols in soy sauce also helps in the digestion of food. Another study conducted on Japanese soy sauce (Shoyu) to study its functional properties found that intake of one cup of clear soy sauce can enhance gastric juice secretion and promote digestion.

2. May Reduce Allergies

Soya sauce is said to possess anti-allergic properties that may help treat allergies caused by the consumption of certain foods. As per one study, the Shoyu polysaccharides (SPS) in soy sauce can have a suppressive effect on anaphylaxis in the ears of mice. These can also improve the quality of life in people with allergic rhinitis. A Japanese study found that a dose of 600 mg of Shoyu polysaccharides per day for four weeks improved the symptoms of allergic rhinitis.

3. May Lower LDL Cholesterol

As per the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, intake of 25 g of soy protein per day can help reduce cholesterol effectively. A review published in Nutrients suggests that the bioactive peptides in soy can lower LDL cholesterol levels. However, more research is warranted to understand this benefit of soy sauce in humans.

4. May Reduce Blood Pressure

A 13-week study on rats orally administered with 200 mg/kg body weight/day of newly fermented salt-free soy sauce observed lowered blood pressure levels. As per another study, Ganjang, a traditional Korean soy sauce, is said to possess anti-hypertensive properties.

5. May Have Anti-Tumor Effects

A mice study found that soy sauce diets may help reduce the frequency and multiplication of liver tumors. The anti-tumorigenic and anti-mutagenic effects of soy compounds may significantly reduce tumors. However, studies are limited in this regard and more research is warranted to understand these effects in humans.

These are the important benefits of soy sauce. But did you know that it is available in five different types? Check them out in the next section.

5 Types Of Soy Sauce

  •  Light Soy Sauce: It is known to enhance the flavor of food items. It is also known as ‘usukuchi’ and is mainly used in Chinese recipes. It has a milder aroma, thin texture, and is available in a light reddish-brown color. It is saltier than other soy sauces.
  •  Dark Soy Sauce: This sauce has a strong aroma and is reddish-brown. It is also known as ‘koikuchi shoyu’ and has a thicker texture. It gives a sweet or less salty taste to your food.
  •  Thick Soy Sauce: It is also known as ‘tamari’. It is made with gluten-free soybeans. This sauce is dark-colored and tastes sweet. It lacks aroma. It is often used as a substitute for oyster sauce.
  •  Shiro: It is made with 80 percent wheat and 20 percent soybeans. It is light golden with a sweet wheat flavor.
  •  Saishikomi: It is a double-brewed soy sauce produced from equal amounts of wheat and soybeans. It is much darker in color and has a strong flavor.

These are the main types of soy sauce. But how do you store it? Also, can soy sauce go bad? Find out in the next section.

Storage: Can Soy Sauce Go Bad?

An unopened bottle of soy sauce can last about three years. The main reason for this longer shelf life is its high sodium that creates an unfavorable environment for microbes to thrive. However, opened soy sauce retains its freshness for a month and doesn’t have to be stored in the refrigerator. Refrigerated soy sauce can last up to one or two years. How do you add this fermented liquid to your food items? Here are some easy recipes to try.

Recipes To Try

1. Bacon, Egg, And Shrimp Fried Rice

What You Need

  •  Light soy sauce – 1 tablespoon
  •  Peanut or vegetable oil – 1 ½ tablespoons
  •  Minced garlic – 1 clove
  •  Lightly beaten eggs – 3
  •  Bay shrimp – 4 ounces
  •  Cooked jasmine rice – 2 cups
  •  Diced pancetta or bacon – 4 ounces
  •  Peeled and grated fresh ginger – 1 teaspoon
  •  Fresh or frozen peas – 4 ounces
  •  Toasted sesame oil – 1 teaspoon
  •  Chopped scallions – 2
  •  Sea salt – to taste

Process

  1.  Heat a wok over high heat and add one tablespoon of peanut oil.
  2.  Add the eggs, reduce the heat a bit, and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes to scramble.
  3.  Remove and set aside. Rehet the wok and add the remaining ½ tablespoon of peanut oil.
  4.  When the oil is hot, add the pancetta, garlic, and ginger. Stir quickly.
  5.  Once the pancetta begins to turn brown, in 1 to 2 minutes, add in the shrimp and peas and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes more.
  6.  Add the cooked rice and stir well to break it up in the wok.
  7.  Add the scrambled eggs back in, season with the light soy, and toss to coat the rice.
  8.  Add in the toasted sesame oil and season with salt and pepper.
  9.  Serve immediately garnished with chopped scallions.

2. Spicy Orange Chicken

What You Need

  •  Low-sodium soy sauce – 1 tablespoon
  •  Cornstarch – 2 teaspoons
  •  Freshly squeezed orange juice – ¾ cup
  •  Garlic – 2 cloves
  •  Sesame oil –1 teaspoon
  •  Grated fresh ginger – 2 teaspoons
  •  Thinly sliced carrots – 2
  •  Red pepper flakes – 2 teaspoons
  •  Boneless skinless chicken breast (8 ounces) –1
  •  Sliced green onions – 2
  •  Cooked brown rice or quinoa – 1 cup

Process

  1.  Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside.
  2.  Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  3.  Add chicken, occasionally stirring so that all sides get browned.
  4.  Once the chicken has browned, add carrots and cook, stirring, until carrots are softened, about 5 minutes.
  5.  Pour in the sauce and cook until the sauce is thickened, for 3 to 5 more minutes.
  6.  Spoon into bowls with rice or quinoa and sprinkle with green onions and red pepper flakes.

3. Bok Choy And Oyster Mushroom Stir-fry Recipe

What You Need

  •  Reduced-sodium soy sauce – 3 tablespoons
  •  Oyster mushrooms – ¾ pound
  •  Fresh garlic cloves
  •  Bok choy – 3 pounds
  •  Sugar – 2 teaspoons
  •  Peanut or canola oil – 2 tablespoons
  •  Peeled and minced ginger root – 1 tablespoon
  •  Toasted sesame oil – 2 tablespoons
  •  Water – 1 or 2 tablespoons

Process

  1.  Trim off only the very bottom ½ inch of the mushroom clusters where they were attached to the growing medium. Tear the mushrooms, including the stems, into bite-sized pieces.
  2.  Slice the ribs (stems) into ¼-inch pieces. Stack the leaves on top of each other and roll them into a log. Slice them into 1-inch ribbons.
  3.  In a large skillet or wide saucepan with a lid, heat the peanut oil, sesame oil, and garlic cloves over medium heat.
  4.  Adjust heat to hold at a simmer until the garlic begins to brown, then remove the garlic and reserve it for another use.
  5.  Add the ginger and sauté until it begins to brown. Add the mushrooms and bok choy.
  6.  Turn the heat up to medium-high and stir-fry the vegetables for about 5 minutes until they are wilted.
  7.  Add the water, soy sauce, and sugar. Cover the pot and bring the liquid to the bottom to a boil. Adjust heat to maintain a simmer and steam the vegetables for 3 minutes.
  8.  If necessary, prevent sticking by adding another 1 or 2 tablespoons of water to the skillet.
    Soy sauce is very high in sodium, which is its major downside. Does this make soy sauce bad for you? What are the risks associated with soy sauce?

What Are The Risks Associated With Soy Sauce?

Intake of limited amounts of soy sauce is usually safe. But excess consumption is generally associated with health risks due to its high sodium content. According to the federal nutrition policy guidelines, the recommended sodium intake for adults should be no more than 2,300 milligrams per day. Also, people with high blood pressure shouldn’t consume more than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. Choose soy sauce brands with low sodium values to reduce the risk of high blood pressure and coronary heart disease.

Chemically produced soy sauce may contain 3-Chloropropane-1,2-diol (3-MCPD). This contaminant has toxic effects and might increase cancer risk or damage kidneys. Limit the presence of 3-MCPD usage to 1 mg per kg. Also, the presence of histamine in soy sauce may cause an allergic reaction in some. Intake of higher amounts of histamine may lead to rashes, stomach problems, sweating, headaches, and dizziness. Some forms of soy allergy may lead to histamine poisoning, characterized by inflammation around the mouth. In addition, soy sauce contains high monosodium glutamate (MSG), which can cause nausea and headache.

People allergic to gluten should avoid soy sauce. Most brands contain wheat as well. Hence, those with celiac disease must check the product labels. Also, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers should consult their doctor before consuming soy sauce as it is linked to altering epigenome in babies.

What are some alternatives to high-sodium soy sauce? Scroll down to find out.

Low-Sodium Soy Sauce Substitutes

Tamari is one of the best alternatives to high-sodium soy sauce. It is made without using wheat and is gluten-free. It has a thicker texture, is less salty, and has a smoother flavor than your regular soy sauce. Worcestershire sauce is another good low-sodium soy sauce available.

Conclusion

Soy sauce is a condiment used to enhance the flavor of food items. It can be produced in a traditional way or through acid hydrolysis (a chemical process). Its flavor, texture, color, and benefits are determined by its preparation process. However, the high sodium content in soy sauce may lead to side effects if consumed in excess. Hence, limit its usage and look for low-sodium and gluten-free options. Should you experience any adverse effects, stop use and consult your doctor.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

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Sindhu Koganti is a Biotechnology graduate and has been in the writing field for over 4 years now. She specializes in writing on Health and Wellness. She has hands-on experience in writing articles and press releases on Life Sciences and Healthcare, Food and Beverages, and Chemicals and Materials. When she’s not writing, she loves watching movies and listening to music. She also enjoys traveling.