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Liquid aminos are culinary seasonings that look and taste similar to soy sauce.
They can be made by fermenting coconut sap with salt and water or treating soybeans with an acidic solution to break them down into free amino acids.
They add a savory, salty flavor to meals and are naturally vegan and gluten-free.
Here are 6 benefits of liquid aminos.
Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins.
There are two types of amino acids — essential and non-essential.
Manufacturers claim that soy-based liquid aminos contain 16 amino acids, while coconut-based ones offer 17, including both essential and non-essential. However, no independent research supports these claims.
Summary Liquid aminos contain essential and non-essential amino acids, both of which play many critical roles in your body.
Soy sauce is made by fermenting cooked soybeans and roasted wheat with salt, water, and yeast or mold until a rich, salty sauce is produced (
In contrast, liquid aminos are made by mixing hydrolyzed soybeans or fermented coconut sap with water, resulting in a naturally gluten-free product.
Thus, those following a gluten-free diet commonly use them in place of soy sauce.
Additionally, coconut aminos are particularly popular among people following the paleo diet, as they cannot eat legumes like soybeans.
Summary Liquid aminos do not contain wheat, making them popular soy sauce substitutes for those following a gluten-free diet.
Liquid aminos are often described as tasting like a mild soy sauce. Soy sauce has a rich taste, while liquid aminos are milder and slightly sweet.
In soy-based liquid aminos, sodium is formed during processing, while coconut-based liquid aminos have sea salt added to them.
Since the color, texture, and flavor of liquid aminos and soy sauce are similar, they can be used interchangeably in most recipes.
Nonetheless, for recipes that involve reducing a sauce, coconut aminos are a good choice, as they won’t become overwhelmingly salty.
Summary Liquid aminos taste like a mild soy sauce with a salty, savory flavor and a hint of sweetness. In fact, the two can be used interchangeably in most recipes.
Commercially prepared soy sauces often contain sodium benzoate.
Liquid aminos do not contain any chemical preservatives, so they’re a good choice for people who cannot consume benzoates.
Summary Liquid aminos do not contain sodium benzoate, so they’re a good option for people who must avoid this preservative.
Umami is one of the five major taste sensations, alongside salty, sweet, sour, and bitter.
Its flavor is described as savory or meaty and triggered by the presence of free glutamate. Free glutamate is formed in foods when glutamic acid, an amino acid naturally found in protein, is broken down (
Liquid aminos contain natural glutamate due to the breakdown of proteins in soybeans or coconut sap, so they stimulate an umami flavor sensation and make food taste more enjoyable (
One study examined the brain activity of women who tended to overeat at meals.
When the women drank chicken broth containing monosodium glutamate (MSG), a food additive rich in glutamate and umami flavor, they showed greater brain activity in regions responsible for self-control while viewing images of food and making dietary decisions (
Summary Eating umami-rich foods like liquid aminos before meals may increase satisfaction during a meal and reduce hunger afterward, but they have not been linked to weight loss.
Liquid aminos are very easy to add to your diet.
Some creative ways to use them include:
- as a soy sauce replacement in stir-fries and sauces
- in salad dressings and dips for a salty, savory kick
- stirred into soups and stews for extra umami flavor
- drizzled onto oven-roasted vegetables or mashed potatoes
- roasted with nuts for a savory snack
- stirred into rice and beans
- added to marinades for tofu, tempeh, or meat
- drizzled over fresh-popped popcorn
- as a dipping sauce for sushi
- as a seasoning for cauliflower fried rice
Liquid aminos store well in a cool, dark pantry for three to six months after opening.
Summary Liquid aminos can be used in a wide variety of dishes to add a savory, salty, umami flavor.
While liquid aminos are a great option for people looking for a gluten-free soy sauce substitute, there are some downsides to consider.
1. Allergenic for some
Soy-based liquid aminos are not appropriate for those with a soy allergy.
However, coconut aminos make a great substitute.
2. More expensive than soy sauce
Liquid aminos cost about three times more than traditional soy sauce and may be difficult to find in grocery stores, although they can be purchased online.
Because of this, many people without special dietary needs choose to stick with soy sauce.
3. Can be high in sodium
Soy-based liquid aminos have slightly more sodium than soy sauce, containing 320 mg per 1-teaspoon (5-ml) serving, compared to 293 mg of sodium in soy sauce (, ).
Some studies have linked high intakes of sodium to adverse health outcomes, such as an increased risk of stomach cancer and high blood pressure (, ).
It’s generally recommended to keep your sodium intake below 2,300 mg per day to reduce these risks ().
Some people, such as those with salt-sensitive high blood pressure or kidney disease, may need to consume less (, ).
Just 3 servings of soy-based liquid aminos can account for 41% of this daily allowance, making it difficult to stay within these guidelines if you consume high amounts.
Coconut aminos are a good lower-sodium alternative, with just 130 mg per teaspoon (5 ml), but they should still be consumed in moderation ().
Summary Liquid aminos may not be appropriate for people who are allergic to soy or coconut. Soy liquid aminos are high in sodium, and both soy and coconut liquid aminos are more expensive than traditional soy sauce.
Liquid aminos are cooking seasonings that look and taste very similar to soy sauce.
They can be made from either soybeans or coconut sap and are naturally gluten-free, so they work for a wide variety of diets.
Liquid aminos contain both essential and non-essential amino acids, but since they’re used in such small quantities, they’re not a significant source of dietary protein.
Their free glutamate content gives them a savory umami flavor that reduces hunger after meals and makes food more palatable and filling.
Liquid aminos can be used as a substitute for soy sauce in most dishes or anywhere you’d like to add a salty, savory taste.