Are you a Japanese food connoisseur? If so, you might be taking in a lot of this substance that can be harmful when taken in abundance. Found in almost every Japanese restaurant, even in those little boxes of takeaway from the sushi stand on the way home, soy sauce is now known as a silent killer.
As an integral component in Japanese cuisine, the Japanese utilise quite a number of seasonings in the kitchen, but soy sauce ranks as the most important, since it can turn a plain entrée into a dish of marvel. Taste-wise, soy sauce balances the five flavours of saltiness, sweetness, tartness, bitterness and umami perfectly in one single serving. But if you are one of those who regularly douse their meals with soya sauce, there is reason to be concerned.
A research carried out by The George Institute for Global Health found out that a tablespoon of soy sauce contains on average 61% of the recommended daily sodium intake. Just by taking a general overview at the dinner table, it might seem that most are unaware (or in denial) of this startling fact.
How is Soy Sauce Made?
Even though we associate soy sauce with Japanese cuisine, soy sauce actually originates from China and over time, similar products have been developed in Japan, Korea and other parts of Asia. The common variation of soy sauce that we are familiar with is known as the Japanese shoyu sauce. If you are wondering, the main ingredients of soy sauce are soybeans, wheat, water, salt and a fermenting agent called koji-kin.
How it is prepared is by grinding the beans and wheat into a powdery form, before water is added in to form a boiling brew. During the fermentation process, koji-kin is added for the fermenting. Only after a period of six months, the fermented mash will then be strained of its precious liquid into bottles that we purchase off the supermarket rack. Something interesting about soy sauce is that there are many variations to it — depending on how it is produced, the region it is made in and the subtle differences in colour and taste, each soy sauce has its own unique purpose. For dishes that contain tofu, it is recommended to use the Awaguchi shoyu, while for sashimi, most restaurants usually serve the Saishikomi shoyu, a soy sauce that has a fermentation process twice as long as the common Koikuchi shoyu.
What is So Bad About Soy Sauce?
What has been proven is that soy sauce wouldn’t cause your weight to surge a stone heavier on the weighing machine, but it has been known to cause you to retain water, making your pants feel and seem much tighter on you. This is because of the high sodium content that soy sauce contains. If you were to take sodium in excess, it can drastically cause your blood pressure to rise and it may affect the health of your kidneys, as they try to dispense with the waste and extra water out of your blood. Done over an extended period of time, you will find yourself at the mercy of kidney disease, stroke, heart disease and even heart failure.
On the exterior, you will notice after a meal, your face would appear puffy, especially in the areas around your eyes and lips. This condition, known as oedema, is encountered by a sizeable amount of the population, including actress Julianne Moore. What could make the swelling even worse is if you were to accompany your meal with sake or an alcoholic beverage. Doing so would cause your skin to feel both puffy and dehydrated, an alliance that is double the trouble and half the fun.
What Can You Do?
Looking for a painless way to avoid the puffy face syndrome? It is as simple as going easy on the soy sauce. If you are at a restaurant and have no control over how the food is prepared, be straight with the waiter and ask if it is possible to request for the chef to cut down on the soy sauce used. While you might have to sacrifice a little in taste, all it takes is a little getting used to. In the initial weeks, you might start feeling like your food is as bland as can be, but as your taste buds get accustomed to the low-sodium diet, those flavours would start returning to you.
Another easy fix that you can execute in your kitchen is to stay away from sauces or condiments that consist of a high amount of salt like mustard, ketchup and of course, soy sauce. All the same, those prepacked food that is super convenient has been known to carry a lot of sodium as a preservative for it to last much longer in the kitchen. If you absolutely have to use soy sauce or other pre-made sauces, select those with the healthier choice label, as they would contain less sodium and other additives in them.