Soy sauce is a condiment made primarily from fermented soybeans, wheat, and salt, and is a staple ingredient in Asian cuisine. In its most basic form, soy sauce tends to be high in sodium, an element that occurs naturally in the body and is responsible for controlling the amount of water in the body and electronic signals between cells. Sodium is also found in various types of salt, which is used as a preservative and to add flavor to foods. For those who are controlling their sodium intake, regular soy sauce may be substituted with low sodium soy sauce, which uses less salt during production.
To produce soy sauce, manufacturers typically heat soybeans until soft to help them break down more easily during the fermentation process. The soybeans are combined with wheat that has been heated and crushed, along with a microorganism, such as yeast or other bacteria, to ferment the carbohydrates into alcohol. The mixture usually ages for at least three days until it becomes a dry paste, which is then combined with water and salt, and allowed to age further to become more flavorful. When manufacturing low sodium soy sauce, the amount of salt added during the fermentation process may be reduced or the full amount may be used and then extracted after the fermentation process is complete.
Low sodium soy sauce is generally produced with approximately 40 percent of the sodium removed as compared to regular soy sauce. Some people may find the lowered amount of sodium to be less flavorful than full-sodium soy sauce; therefore, it may be recommended to use the low-sodium sauce after a dish has been cooked in order to prevent the flavors from being diluted. Those who find regular soy sauce too salty may actually prefer low-sodium versions, even if they don’t have dietary issues with sodium levels.
Doctors may recommend reduced sodium products like low sodium soy sauce for people with a variety of health issues that may be exacerbated by sodium intake. A diet high in sodium may make a person more likely to develop hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, a condition in which there is increased force against blood as it pumps through the arteries throughout the body. This condition may increase the likelihood of stroke, heart attack, or kidney disease. A low sodium diet may also be advised for people with congestive heart failure or cirrhosis, because sodium may make them more likely to retain an excessive amount of fluid in their bodies.