Soy Sauce: Is This Favourite Condiment Detrimental To Your Health?

Soy sauce, we all have come across this name while we cook Chinese and Japanese food. This sauce serves as one of the most important components in Chinese as well as Japanese cuisine. Though there are eight variants of soy sauce, the two most used ones are Dark Soy Sauce and Light Soy Sauce. These two are easily available in any market. But have you ever wondered, how is it made?

Benefits of Soy Sauce

Soy Sauce

Soy sauce contains NIACIN, which benefits the health of the heart. It promotes good cholesterol and regulates fat content in the blood. Good quality soy sauce contains less than ten calories, which seems like a good deal. The presence of isolated sugars in soy sauce is considered to have a positive prebiotic effect on our gut health which makes it quite beneficial. 

Soy sauce contains tryptophan, which promotes good sleep, relief from depression, and anxiety as well as helps in pain management. It also consists of anti-oxidants which help in clearing toxins.

How is Soy Sauce prepared?

“Is soy sauce unhealthy?”. Well, if you read some fact and instantly believe in it then it is no less than a superstition. First, understand why is it said so. No doubt, soy sauce cannot be entirely bad. But excessive use of it might give you some trouble. Let’s dig deeper into it!

Let us tell you that soy sauce is made in two ways: The traditional way and the chemical way.

As the word itself gives the idea, the traditional way is the authentic way in which soy sauce was originally prepared. Firstly, soaked soybeans and crushed wheat are mixed with a culturing mold, aspergillus, and left for two to three days for the developing process. Next, salt and water solution is added to it and left for five to eight months for the fermentation process.

During fermentation, the natural chemical reactions take place and break this mixture into amino acids as well as the starch is converted into simple sugar which is then fermented into alcohol and lactic acid.

After this process, the mixture is pressed to release the liquid, then the liquid is sterilized and finally bottled. This is the authentic process of making soy sauce, no other chemicals added, the whole production process takes its own time and the sauce is prepared at its natural pace. 

Let’s get into the chemical one. This process of making the soy sauce is scientifically called Acid Hydrolysis, which is a quick as well as cost-effective one. This produces soy sauce in days instead of taking several months.

Soybeans are heated and mixed with hydrochloric acid, which will break the proteins in the soybeans. Then, to make this mixture taste similar to the original one, extra color, artificial flavors, and salt are added. This process produces carcinogens, which are not found originally in the traditional soy sauce. In fact, in Japan, soy sauce produced under this method is not considered for consumption. 

You can spot the health difference now. A chemically produced one contains the following: water, sugar, soybeans (10%), acidity regulator, permitted natural color, and permitted class 2 preservative. Well, now you why some people advise not to go for it. Traditional soy sauce is low in calories whereas the other is high in sodium. When people with high blood pressure and people who are sensitive to sodium, are likely to get problems digesting it. This might trigger their system and cause bloating and swelling around their feet and hands.

Is there any relation between soy sauce and cancer? 

Compounds in soy sauce like lignans and isoflavones trigger certain hormones. These hormones might stimulate cancer, especially, breast cancer. However, consuming this sauce in a considerable amount, 2 to 3 tablespoons a week, won’t increase the risk of breast cancer or any other cancer.  

How does the intake of soy sauce affect your health?

People suffering from hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism may be sensitive to not only soybean but also to other soy products. The reason being Goitrogens, which are found in the fermented variety of soy sauce.

It is said that the male reproductive system is affected by lignans. Daily consumption of soy sauce will adversely affect the sperm count and sex hormones called estrogens.

The amount of MSG in soy sauce could highly affect your neurological health. MSG is added to soy sauce to enhance flavor and contains a highly toxic ingredient, Glutamic acid, which will only harm when consumed in good quantities. Consumption on regular basis will trigger hormones, which might lead to chest pain, nausea, numbness, headaches, and fluttering heartbeats. 

Commercial soy sauce obstructs minerals and protein absorption. This means that the presence of Phytates affects our digestive system and makes it difficult to absorb nutrients from the foods. Soy sauce has the ability to cause digestive issues and pancreatic issues as well. 

The high sodium content in soy sauce can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. As too much sodium has the ability to increase blood pressure and high blood pressure can contribute to heart attack, strokes, and in severe cases, even heart failure. 

If you are pregnant and used to chemically produced soy sauce, you might want to cut down a little bit on it. Its bad content might cause harm to you but it is absolutely fine to consume it on a balanced diet.

It is also said that soy sauce has an adverse effect on kidneys, as it contains 3-MCPD, which is said to be a toxic component. Excessive consumption of soy sauce has the ability to cause damage to kidneys, decrease fertility, and cause tumors.   

 Lastly, soy sauce is not entirely harmful for Human consumption and moderate intake does not harm anybody. Not all of us can afford organic soy sauce for use in our daily lives but one thing we can certainly do is to pay close attention to our daily intakes. By this, we mean that read the ingredients list before buying any product, some contain a high amount of chemicals whereas some might not. 

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