Soy sauce is an Asian condiment that originated over 2000 years ago in China. It’s a staple ingredient from Japan and Korea to Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore and over in Hawaii. Soy sauce is the ultimate flavour enhancer.
It is a versatile cupboard ingredient, either added to dishes during cooking or used as a table condiment. It makes a great marinade or can be splashed into stews or used in sauces for meat and vegetables. Use light soy sauce to flavor dishes without darkening them - when stir-frying vegetables or chicken, for instance. Use dark soy sauce to give color to noodle dishes; its sweetness also makes it good as a dipping sauce.
Soy sauces can vary greatly in texture and flavor. There are different ways to make soy sauce, but traditionally, it's prepared with soybeans, wheat, salt, and fermenting agents (mold or yeast). It’s then left to ferment for eight months or more; and pasteurized before it’s bottled.
This sauce is low in calories with only eight calories per tablespoon, plus if it’s traditionally made, there are no artificial flavourings or additives.
Heath benefits of soy sauce
Beneficial for gut health
Some isolated sugars in soy sauce have been found to have a positive prebiotic effect on certain types of bacteria found in the gut. Although not scientifically proven, this could be beneficial for gut health and digestion.
Fighting oxidative stress
The dark variety of this sauce is rich in shoyuflavone, which is a natural antioxidant. It helps protect your body from free radicals and thereby slows down aging and reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
A study published in the International Journal of Medicine in 2008 revealed that this sauce increases the production of immunoglobulin A, which is an antibody that fights pathogens and viruses in the body. It also contains a type of carbohydrate which helps in boosting immunity.
Based on the grains of this legume, it contains some of its essential phytonutrients, such as isoflavones, powerful antioxidants that delay the aging of our cellular tissue.
Good for bones
Like the raw material from which it starts, the sauce is high in calcium, always a good aid for bones and joints.
How soy sauce might be bad for you
Although soy is often associated with veganism and healthy lifestyles, this fermented bean product has developed a bit of a bad reputation. A slew of controversial studies link soy products to serious health issues such as female fertility impairment.
Has high sodium content
You must be knowing that one of the ingredients that are added to soy sauce is salt. So it is natural that soy sauce has a high content of sodium. Though sodium is something that our body requires but high intake of it in our foods may lead to a high content of sodium in our body which can cause an increase in blood pressure, stomach problems, and also some allergies. If you think that the amount of soy sauce added to our meal is very less then you should know that we do add some more salt to our dishes and consuming this much quantity on the regular can aggravate the problems.
It contains gluten and wheat
Another key ingredient that goes into the making of soy sauce is wheat. Since it is the prime ingredient it is added in large quantities and also has gluten added. So there are people who have wheat and gluten allergies who should know about this beforehand.
Soy sauce, like other fermented foods, also contains significant amounts of histamine, which can aggravate conditions like rosacea. Too much histamine can also trigger symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, itching, rashes, and digestive problems. If you’re sensitive or allergic to gluten, wheat, or soy, then soy sauce is totally off-limits.
Negative impact on hyperthyroidic individuals
Although there’s no proof soy sauce impacts thyroid function in healthy individuals, it might impact the effect of medication those with hyperthyroidism.
Like many grains and legumes, soybeans contain anti-nutrients which affect how the body absorbs protein and vitamins. However, the fermentation process reduces the content of anti-nutrients in soy sauce.
Choose the right sauce
A good quality soy sauce has a perfect balance between sweet and salt on the tongue. There a trick to choose a decent soy sauce in the supermarket: shake the bottle – if there is lots of foam on the surface that disappears slowly, then it’s good quality. If there isn’t a lot of foam and it disappears quickly, then it’s usually lower standard.
The types of soy sauce you’ll most likely find in supermarkets are either Japanese or Chinese in style. There’s a difference: Japanese soy sauce is brewed with roasted wheat whereas Chinese soy sauce (which traditionally didn’t contain wheat) is brewed with wheat flour. Chinese sauce also sometimes contains added sugar. This difference in ingredients gives Japanese soy sauce a slightly sweeter, full-bodied flavour and Chinese soy sauce a heavier, saltier finish.