Soy Sauce

Origins

The Chinese were making a fermented meat and fish sauce 2,500 years ago, and using the potent liquid as a sauce. During the 6th century when Buddhism became popular, the Chinese developed a non-meat version of the sauce using soy beans.

Soy sauce was originally the liquid poured from vats of miso as it fermented. Miso is a paste of soybeans, sometimes rice or barley, salt, a mold culture, and certain bacteria which create fermentation.

For a short historical look at soy sauce visit

Nutrition

The fermentation process breaks down protein and carbohydrates into components that provide us with cardiovascular, immune, and digestive system support.

Soy sauce contains many different antioxidants, and some studies have shown that soy sauce has a more beneficial phytonutrient-density than red wine.

Because it is fermented soy sauce produces high concentrations of oligosaccharides that support the growth of friendly bacteria in our gut, and certain bacteria create a form of vitamin K2 which helps with bone health.

Salt problem

All soy sauce (except those labeled low-salt) are high in salt. But you are replacing salt you would normally eat with the salt from the sauce, not adding to it.

Sodium benzoate

The preservative, sodium benzoate, is added to many processed foods and drinks. Most bottled soy sauce has sodium benzoate including those in Chinese restaurants. Some scientists suspect that sodium benzoate contributes to hyperactivity in children or may be cancer-causing. There is no definitive answer on whether or not this is true.

I am concerned that the sodium benzoate might compromise the beneficial bacteria in soy sauce, but following an extensive search I couldn’t find the answer.

It’s the first thing I look for when I pick up a jar of something new I might like to try. I don’t buy or eat anything containing any preservatives.

Modern soy sauce

Currently there are hundreds of companies making soy sauce. Finding the best kind shouldn’t be so hard, but it can be.

Like all things we eat, we need to be reading labels before we buy. And soy sauce is no exception since few of us will be making our own. I did read about a young Korean woman making her own from an old family recipe.

Soy sauce labels should say GMO-free or “organic” and say “unpasteurized” and should have no preservatives.

I just learned that Kikkoman, a popular brand of soy sauce, now markets “preservative-free” but the label does not say that the sauce was made from organic beans.