Love the salty umami of soy sauce but not the side effects of ingesting so much sodium – you know, those dreaded added pounds and bloat from water retention? Or maybe you’re following a Paleo, gluten-free or low sodium diet and want or need to eliminate soy. The solution: coconut aminos. For us, it’s the low sodium aspect: only 113 mg per 1 teaspoon, versus 920 mg of sodium per 1 tablespoon in regular soy sauce or 575 per 1 tablespoon of low-sodium soy sauce. The flavor is milder than soy sauce and, contrary to the name, doesn’t taste like coconut at all, coconut aminos are the best non-soy, low-sodium substitute I’ve found for sushi dipping and Asian food cravings.
Today I’m sharing a recipe for a light and healthy grilled shrimp with vegetables and Pad Thai Rice Noodles that I purchased at an Asian market. It is Gluten-Free and can be adapted to a Paleo diet by using shiratake noodles which are made from yams. Both kinds of noodles contain no wheat and have zero sodium and are much lighter than egg or semolina noodles. This isn’t traditional Pad Thai because the sauce I created is a light Lime Sauce made with coconut aminos instead of soy sauce with a bight, fresh lime sauce rather than a peanut sauce. You can certainly add whatever vegetables you have on hand and use tamari or light soy sauce and regular noodles if you prefer. Either way it is a quick, nutritious, family-friendly dinner.
Benefits of Coconut Aminos:
Even if you don’t need to avoid wheat or have any healthy issues, coconut aminos is a healthier alternative to the ever popular soy sauce because it’s lower in sodium than even low-sodium soy sauce and a good source of amino acids. Guest writer, Virginia Cunningham shares some of the benefits she discovered while researching coconut aminos.
Skip the soy sauce
People who have wheat sensitivities or are trying follow a strict Paleo or primal diet need to avoid most soy sauces. Despite the name, modern soy sauce is often made of soy and wheat, cooked together, then fermented. Some formulations call for up to 50 percent wheat.
If you don’t have a gluten tolerance, coconut aminos might be something to consider anyway, since the soy and salt in soy sauce can have less than healthy effects.
Soy contains lecithins, which can diminish leptin (a hormone that controls appetite and metabolism) sensitivity. Soy also interferes with thyroid function. And one of the biggest on-going debates about soy products is just how the plant estrogens affect estrogen and testosterone in people.
And finally, even low-sodium soy sauces contain a heaping dose of salt, which is not healthy for people watching their blood pressure. Coconut aminos have 65 percent less sodium than regular soy sauce, and half the sodium of low-sodium versions, which makes it a tasty, healthier substitute.
Health benefits of coconut aminos
Made from the “sap” of a coconut tree that’s aged and mixed with a bit of sea salt, coconut aminos add the great umami kick to savory dishes, while bringing a host of nutrients to the table and cutting out the salt. A source of 17 amino acids, coconut aminos also provide minerals, a phalanx of B vitamins, and vitamin C.
The 17 amino acids are key to anyone following a vegan or vegetarian diet. Protein is necessary in every person’s diet to provide key amino acids that the body is unable to produce on its own. They are necessary for the building and repairing of muscle tissue, and play an important part of regulating energy levels and supporting the immune system. Animal proteins generally are complete proteins, while many vegetarian and vegan sources lack complete sources. The 17 amino acids in coconut aminos go a long way to filling that gap. While it’s unlikely that you’d consume enough coconut aminos as a flavoring agent to get all the amino acids you needed from it, every little bit does help, when following a diet that doesn’t have animal sources of protein.
How to use coconut aminos
Substitute coconut aminos for soy sauce or other seasonings in any recipe in equal parts. Use it to marinate steak, chicken, or pork, or mix it with vinegar, oil, mustard and other spices for a salad dressing. You can even use it to make beef jerky.
Whether you’re following a particular diet or watching certain health markers, coconut aminos are a fantastic, flavorful, and nutritious substitute to soy sauce. Try it in any number of recipes and you won’t miss the soy product at all.
Virginia Cunningham is a freelance writer currently working for Northwest. She focuses on everything from health and wellness, sustainability, beauty, and fitness. As a mother to a son who has restricted dietary needs, she’s always on the lookout for healthy alternatives!