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Health Benefits and Problems of Soy Sauce: Is It A Good Addition To Your Diet?

Updated on October 3, 2012

Are you a keen cook? Do you like to get in there, glass of wine on the go, chopping vegetables, stirring, tasting, adjusting as you go along before producing your final finished masterpiece? If so then you probably have a few favourite ‘signature’ dishes, and perhaps a regional or national cuisine that you’re most comfortable with as well.

If Asian cuisines are your thing, e.g. Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai etc., then no doubt you are already well acquainted with the tasty benefits and versatility of soy sauce. But have you ever stopped to wonder about what its nutritional qualities are? There are up and down sides to the addition of soy sauce to your diet, depending on which authority or expert you choose to consult. (But then isn't that always the case with every foodstuff you can imagine?)

There is a belief that soy sauce was originally developed in order to stretch out and conserve precious supplies of salt, adding salty flavour without using as much of the limited supply. Something perhaps to bear in mind if you're one of the many people currently trying to cut down on your sodium intake.

Soya sauce is actually manufactured in a variety of different ways, both traditional and modern. The former include using the 'run-off' from the production of miso, while the use of hydrolysed soya protein is a popular modern method that signficantly speeds up ease and speed of manufacture.

Is there a downside to the consumption of soya sauce? Certainly there are incidences, as with many other basic foodstuffs, of allegations of contamination and unwelcome chemicals being found in soy sauce sourced from particular areas or companies, e.g. production of potentially toxic chemicals as a result of the use of hydrolysed soya protein.[3] However, benefits have also been observed due to the presence of a variety of substances within soya sauce reducing the incidence of microbial colonization at differing temperatures. An unlooked for protection against bacterial infection, including the particular strain of E.coli these specific researchers were looking at, perhaps!


1. Chichester, C.O., Yokotsuka, T. ‘Aroma and Flavour of Japanese Soy Sauce’. Advances in Food Research Orlando: Academic Press, Inc., 1986.

2 Vegan Forum. 'Tamari? Shoyu? Soy sauce? Wheat free?.' Vegan Forum website. < > Accessed on 16/01/2011.

3 Masuda S, Hara-Kudo Y, Kumagai S. 'Reduction of Escherichia coli O157:H7 populations in soy sauce, a fermented seasoning.' Journal of Food Protection: 1998. 61;6, pp. 157-661.

4 Coultate, T.P. 'Food: the chemistry of its components.' Cambridge; The Royal Society of Chemistry, 2009.

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