Do you find yourself in love with Asian food but unable to stomach the risks of genetically modified soy sauce? You, my friend, are in luck. Welcome to the world of coconut aminos.
What are coconut aminos? Put simply, coconut aminos are a sauce often used to substitute for soy sauce in Asian food dishes. Rather than supplementing food with a hormone-riddled, sodium-rich mystery sauce, you can use coconut aminos as a tasty, healthy replacement condiment. There are only two ingredients to create coconut aminos: organic coconut tree sap and organic sea salt.
Not only are coconut aminos a great substitute for soy sauce, but they’re also a powerful little ingredient on their own. Coconut aminos are gluten-free, non-GMO, certified organic, soy-free, MSG-free, kosher and vegan. Packed into this unassuming condiment are the nearly endless benefits of the coconut, including protection of the heart and reduction in the risk of certain cancers.
7 Benefits of Coconut Aminos
1. Protect Your Heart and Regulate Cholesterol
When you consume coconut products (coconut aminos, coconut oil, coconut flour, etc.) regularly, your heart feels the difference. Coconut has been proven to increase HDL cholesterol, which contributes to a healthy heart. (1) Coconut products also contain antioxidants that have been proven to protect the heart and regulate blood pressure levels. (2)
2. Reduce Risk of Diabetes
A lot of research has been conducted over the last several years to determine the causes and risks involved in the obesity epidemic in the U.S. There are many contributing factors, but one 2015 study at the University of California specifically highlights the dangers of a diet rich in soybean products versus coconut products.
This study found that diets high in soybean products suffer a higher risk of diabetes and other metabolic issues, whereas a coconut-rich diet reduced that risk. (3) It’s important to note that these facts don’t refer to a quick or short-term solution for any problem, but rather remind us that a diet filled with the things that are good for the body, maintained over time, change a lot of the scary things many people fear in their future health.
Are you in the class of over a third of Americans who will statistically be diagnosed with diabetes? There are many things you can do about it. There’s no reason to fear. Your best option is to begin feeding your body what will afford you the best chance of reversing any possibility or occurrence of the disease, and coconut aminos can be a part of a strong diabetic diet plan.
3. Aid in Weight Loss
One possible reason coconut has such a powerful impact on diabetes risk may be its role in weight loss. Have you ever heard of the protein adiponectin? Adiponectin comes exclusively from fatty tissue, secreted into the bloodstream to regulate several metabolic processes, including glucose levels and fatty acid oxidation.
This protein is an interesting one. The level of adiponectin in your bloodstream is inversely associated with body fat levels, meaning that the more of it you have, the lower your body fat content is. (4) The one exception to this rule is in people with extreme calorie restrictions, such as individuals who suffer from anorexia nervosa or other eating disorders.
The reason this is important when discussing the benefits of coconut aminos and other coconut products is that eating coconut products increases adiponectin levels in the bloodstream. One study out of Brazil found that introducing coconut products not only regulated blood pressure, lowered cholesterol and decreased glucose numbers, but it also reduced body mass index, body fat, waist circumference and several other obesity-related measurements. (5) That means coconut aminos can actually help prevent and treat obesity.
4. Strengthen the Immune System
Another exciting benefit of consuming coconut aminos is the protection they offer your immune system. Coconut products are high-antioxidant foods, which counteract the dangerous influence of free radicals within your body. A medical term used to describe is to say the antioxidants in coconuts “reduce oxidative stress.” (6)
Why is this a good thing? Reducing oxidation in the body strengthens your body’s defenses against illness and disease. Oxidative stress is associated with a multitude of problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease. (7)
In addition to their antioxidant content, coconut products are also a healthy source of saturated fats, which are actually not the horrifying substances that many “experts” tout. One misunderstood benefit of these fats is their ability to enhance the immune system.
5. Reduce Risk of Colon Cancer
While high-fat diets have long been regarded as an increased risk factor for colon cancer, recent research suggests a different reality. Again, coconut products are a good source of saturated fats in the diet. Unlike what you may have heard, saturated fats are essential fatty acids that your body cannot produce on its own. Saturated fats have several health benefits themselves, including immune health, bone density and toxin protection. They also allow your body to correctly use both forms of unsaturated fats (mono and poly).
With this information in hand, scientists at the University of South Carolina conducted research to determine the influence of coconut products on the risk for colon cancer. Subjects consuming coconut showed reduced inflammation and a greatly reduced occurrence of malignant tumors in the colon. (8) This was likely due to the ability of saturated fats to maintain “intestinal barrier integrity.” Thus, coconut products may work as cancer-fighting foods, particularly in regard to colon cancer.
That may sound a bit gross, but what it actually means is that the mucosal layer on the inside of the intestinal tract is kept intact and healthy. Many factors can damage or compromise this barrier, and this often leads to various diseases, such as colon cancer. (9)
6. Promote Mental Health
The coconut tree sap used to create coconut aminos is high in the protein inositol. This handy protein has been proven to have a positive effect on those suffering from panic disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other potentially debilitating mental conditions. (10, 11, 12)
In fact, inositol had an impact almost equal to that of SSRIs commonly used to treat these disorders — without the laundry list of side effects, some of which are bleeding, sexual dysfunction and suicide risk.
7. Naturally Treat Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
The significance of coconut products and their effects on adiponectin production may also resolve some insulin resistance issues. These issues are common in both patients with diabetes and those suffering from other metabolic conditions, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), the No. 1 cause of infertility in the U.S.
Are you ready for a double whammy? Do you remember that the other power protein in coconut products, inositol, positively affects mental health? Well, it’s also a robust natural treatment for PCOS. Inositol intake not only regulates insulin, like adiponectin, but also treats other conditions of PCOS, such as hyperandrogenism, irregular periods and high blood pressure. (13)
Why Can’t I Just Use Soy Sauce?
For starters, soy is the most common phytoestrogen in the Western diet. Phytoestrogens are endocrine disruptors, plant estrogens that mimic or antagonize biological estrogen. While these plant hormones can be beneficial for a small subset of women (namely, women in menopause), phytoestrogens are generally undesirable because of their many associations with hormonal cancers, diseases and fertility disruptions.
Secondly, all soy is not created equal. While healthy Eastern cultures consume copious amounts of soy products, the soy in those countries is generally not genetically modified. This is not the case with soy products in the U.S. An overwhelming 93 percent of soy (as of 2010) in the U.S. is genetically modified and contains any number of unknown, disgusting components. It’s nearly impossible to find non-GMO soy, which is why I generally recommend avoiding it as a whole. Soy sauce also usually contains gluten, which many people don’t realize.
Now, it’s also important to note that there are two types of soy: fermented and unfermented. Soybeans in most soy products you may typically consume are unfermented and may generate undesired health side effects. Fermented soy, on the other hand, is actually a powerful probiotic food and does not herald the many potential problems of unfermented soy, due to the chemical process it undergoes during fermentation.
Fascinatingly, traditional soy sauce (read: made in Eastern countries) is made via fermentation and takes months to complete. On the unfortunate (but unsurprising) side, most soy sauce in the U.S. is made by either a synthetic fermentation process or “acid hydrolyzation” (yes, that’s as bad as it sounds) because it lengthens the shelf life of the sauce.
One of the worst parts of soy sauce that you may typically consume is the MSG content. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a food additive used in many items, the sodium salt of glutamic acid. It can cause radical hormone fluctuations, brain damage, impaired learning and even retinal damage. This is because MSG is an excitotoxin, meaning it overstimulates nerve cells to the point at which they die (which is a form of inflammation).
Coconut aminos are not the only soy sauce substitute. You may also want to try tamari, an (almost) gluten-free form of soy sauce that’s always made by traditional fermentation methods. Tamari sauce provides a little saltier and fuller taste than you may get with coconut aminos, but tamari is not always gluten-free (unlike coconut aminos), so make sure to check labels thoroughly.
Coconut Aminos Nutrition Facts
The process of creating coconut aminos is actually very simple. Coconut sap is “tapped” from coconut blossoms (the flowering portion of the tree present before coconuts grow) and blended with sun-dried, mineral-rich sea salt. It contains 17 naturally occurring amino acids, has almost a perfectly level pH balance, yields a low glycemic index of only 35 and is said to be a high source of broad-spectrum B vitamins, including inostol. This is not to mention that it contains 300 percent less sodium than the leading soy sauce available!
One serving of coconut aminos, about five grams, contains about: (14)
- 5 calories
- 1 gram carbohydrates
- 0 grams fat
- 113 milligrams sodium (5 percent DV)
Coconut Aminos Recipes
When using coconut aminos, it’s important to refrigerate the bottle after opening it for the first time. Coconut aminos are a soy sauce substitute, but their taste doesn’t pack quite the salty punch of soy sauce. However, their rich combination of sweet and savory is sure to satisfy.
I love creating “fakeouts,” and this Crispy Orange Beef recipe is no exception. It’s 100 percent gluten-free and gives you all the joy of crispy beef with orange sauce that you might get from Chinese takeout … with none of the chemicals or hidden ingredients. Coconut aminos serve as a delectable part of the guilt-free breading.
More in the mood for fish? Check out this Salmon Stir Fry that’s chock-full of omega-3 fatty acids and healthy proteins.
Coconut aminos are also a great dipping sauce for sushi — so why not try some Riceless Sushi instead of a sandwich for lunch tomorrow?
Possible Coconut Aminos Warnings and Cautions
As coconut aminos contain only two ingredients, they’re an extremely safe condiment to consume. There is no research to suggest overuse of coconut aminos leads to adverse effects. However, it’s possible to be allergic to coconut, although it’s quite rare.
Final Thoughts on Coconut Aminos
While many “experts” have insisted soy sauce is a healthy condiment, it’s certainly one to avoid. Coconut aminos offer a substantive, gluten-free, non-GMO, kosher, vegan and fully organic alternative to soy sauce, while also packing several additional health benefits like heart health and disease prevention.
Next time you’re craving Asian food, skip the soy sauce and pick up a bottle of coconut aminos to enhance your food. Your body will thank you.
Read Next: The 17 Best & Worst Condiments!
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