Ask Alina: Is Soy Sauce Bad For You?

Q: Hi Alina, my question is regarding soy sauce. I like making stir fries with it but I’ve heard it’s not very healthy. Is tamari a better option? What do you use? – Noor L.

A: I hear you, soy sauce tastes amazing. That being said, it’s very, very high in sodium! 940mg of sodium per tablespoon to be exact, which is more than half of the daily recommended intake (1500mg). Yikes!

Unfortunately, despite popular belief tamari is not lower in sodium than soy sauce.

Here’s how tamari and soy sauce are different: while both are a byproduct of fermented soybeans, the process of making soy sauce involves mixing soybeans with wheat and other grains, whereas the process of making tamari involves little to no wheat, and can often be labelled gluten-free. Tamari also tends to have a richer and thicker taste as well.

For that reason, I prefer using tamari to soy sauce. That being said, I still stick to the low-sodium version of tamari and soy sauce (if I can’t find tamari). Low sodium options like this one from San-J come to around 490mg per tablespoon, which is 50% less than the regular version. Plus, since tamari has a richer taste, I find I need to use less of it than if I were to use soy sauce.

Lastly, I would recommend trying out Coconut Aminos. This is an excellent alternative to soy sauce and tamari, since it’s much lower in sodium at just 270mg per tablespoon! It still has that umami flavour, but the taste is definitely a little milder and sweeter as well.

The bottom line: opt for low-sodium tamari to get the same taste; if you’re open to a slightly different flavour profile, try out coconut aminos since it’s way better for you.

Unsure about what’s healthy and what’s not?

Get my entire grocery list, list of brands I recommend and clarity on controversial health topics in my latest book, How To Grocery Shop Like A Nutritionist.

About Alina

I'm a Holistic Nutritionist based in Toronto, Canada and my official title is Certified Nutritional Practitioner (CNP). I received my diploma in Applied Holistic Nutrition from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. I'm a coach and an educator. Follow Alina on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram for all of the latest updates.
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