Soy sauce can add a very nice flavor to your food. That is why many people use it as a favorite ingredient for food recipes. Some people also prefer to use this condiment as an alternative to salt. You can get soy sauce by fermenting soybeans with wheat. Its original home is the country of China. From there, it has spread all around the world. It has become one of the most popular soy products in the whole world. Altogether, soy sauce has been a cooking ingredient for over a millennium. But then, there have been some health concerns about soy sauce and soy products generally. So, is soy sauce bad for you? This is the question we aim to answer in this article.
It may interest you to know that before soy sauce became a food ingredient, it had already been in use in China. The original Chinese product is called “Chiang”. Chiang has been in existence for more than 3,000 years. There are also similar local products in countries across Southeast Asia including Japan, Indonesia, and Korea. Its first advent in the west was around the 1600s as a result of Japanese and trading. That was how the Japanese name, “shoyu” became “soy” in the west.
Overview of Soy Sauce Nutritional Profile
We have broken down the nutrients that you will get from 1 tablespoon of naturally made soysauce below:
- 8 Calories
- 1 gram of carbs
- Zero fat content
- 1 gram of protein
- 902 mg of Sodium
Note that this sample is for soy sauce that they processed naturally. Soy sauce that is chemically produced may differ slightly from this in nutritional content.
Meanwhile, there are 4 main ingredients that people use in producing soy sauce. They include soybeans and wheat as the main ingredients. The two other ingredients are salt and a fermenting agent. The fermenting agent could be yeast, mold, etc.
Different varieties may have different amounts of each of these ingredients. This would also affect the nutritional profile.
But then, one sure thing is that soy sauce is a high-salt ingredient. On average, 1 tablespoon would give you 38 percent of the RDI for Sodium.
Is Soy Sauce Bad For You?
There have been serious concerns about the health risks associated with soy sauce. Lovers of soy sauce say that it is a better alternative to salt because it contains a lesser amount of sodium. However, soy sauce itself is very high in sodium.
The amazing thing is that salt is even one of the ingredients in soy sauce. Aside from the salt content, other concerns about the safety of this condiment include the fact that certain cancer-causing compounds are present in it. Other harmful components include amines and MSG.
If you would like to know, here are the top 5 reasons why soy sauce is bad for you:
1. Soy sauce contains high-sodium
Although sodium is essential for our health, the high amounts of sodium in soy seem to be unsafe. It may increase your blood pressure, and increase the risks of heart disease, stomach cancer, and so on.
2. Soy has a lot of natural toxic substances in it
These toxins are otherwise called “anti-nutrients”. This is because of the negative effect they have on how our bodies benefit from the nutrients we are consuming.
These anti-nutrients include enzyme inhibitors. These enzyme inhibitors are very potent. They inhibit the actions of digestive enzymes like trypsin and many others.
3. The anti-nutrients in soy are not easily deactivated
A lot of food ingredients have anti-nutrients in them too. However, these anti-nutrients are usually deactivated when the food is cooked due to high heat. Other processing steps deactivate also anti-nutrients.
However, the enzyme inhibitors in soy are not easily deactivated. Neither cooking nor processing deactivates them. These inhibitors can cause pancreas pathologies, including cancer.
4. Soy also contains a substance called hemagglutinin
This substance promotes the formation of blood clots. In extreme cases, this substance can make your blood cells clump together and cause problems.
5. Almost all soy products are genetically modified
They contain a lot of contaminants and are thus, not so safe for consumption. The contaminants in soybeans are more than you will find on most other foods.
6. High MSG content
MSG is used to enhance the flavor of food ingredients. Manufacturers add MSG to soy sauce during production to give enhancement to its flavor.
MSG could cause symptoms such as headaches, heart palpitations, weakness, and numbness. These are symptoms of a condition commonly called the “Chinese restaurant syndrome”
7. The presence of carcinogens
A lot of carcinogens form during the processing of soy sauce. They include nitrites, which usually form as a result of spray-drying.
Chloropropanols, including the popular 3-MCPD, are also formed while this condiment is being processed. Aside from causing cancer, 3-MCPD can also damage your kidneys and decrease fertility.
However, naturally produced one seems to have fewer 3-MCPD in them. Some do not even have it at all. The chemically produced varieties are the ones that have excessive amounts of 3-MCPD.
8. Soybeans have a very high amount of phytic acid in them.
Soybean is one of the major components of soy. So soy has a very high amount of phytic acid too. Phytic acid can inhibit the absorption of certain essential minerals. These minerals include magnesium, calcium, copper, iron, and most especially zinc.
9. They contain amines
Amines occur naturally in both animals and plants. But they are more abundant in foods that are aged. Such foods may include aged fish, meats, cheeses as well as some condiments. Soy contains a substantial amount of amines.
The amines in soy sauce include tyramine and histamine. Excessive histamine can be toxic to the body, causing symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, sweating, rashes, itching, fluctuating blood pressure, and stomach problems.
10. High in aluminum
All soy products have aluminum in abundance. But then, they usually acid wash chemically produced soy sauce in aluminum tanks. Some of the aluminum from these tanks leaches into it due to high temperatures. This is unsafe and toxic to the body.