The Trouble with Too Much Soy Sauce

The Trouble with Too Much Soy SauceSoy sauce is a very popular condiment made from a fermented paste of boiled soybeans, brine, roasted grain, and aspergillums fungus. After 18 months of fermentation, the paste is pressed to produce a liquid and a solid by-product. The liquid is what is used for soy sauce and the by-product is normally used for animal feed.


Rapid Fermentation Process


Soy sauce made the traditional way has its drawbacks, but it is not nearly as dangerous as the soy sauces that are commonly sold in supermarkets. Most commercial soy sauces are made in only a few days instead of 18 months. A high-tech process known as acid or rapid hydrolysis rapidly reduces soybean meal and corn starches to their component amino acids. This is done by heating the defatted soy proteins with 18% hydrochloric acid for approximately 10 hours and then counterbalancing the liquid using sodium carbonate. This creates a dark brown, chemically-based soy sauce. It is usually then mixed with a small amount of traditionally fermented soy sauce to give it a more pleasant odor and flavor.


Artificial Flavors and Additives


Caramel colorings, sugars and other artificial flavors are added prior to further pasteurization, refinement, and packaging process. The quick hydrolysis method uses the enzyme glutamase to create a chemical reaction. This produces significant amounts of an unnatural form of glutamic acid that is very similar to MSG. Compare this with traditional soy sauce that use the enzyme glutaminase to produce natural glutamic acid.


DNA Damaging Neurotoxins


Researchers have discovered furanones in popular soy sauce sold at most supermarkets. These are mutagenic to bacteria and have led to DNA damage during lab tests. Salsolinol has also been found in many soy sauces, which is a neurotoxin that is associated with DNA damage, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and chromosomal aberrations. Ethyl carbamate has been linked to cancer and it is found in miso, soy sauce, and some alcoholic beverages. Miso only has 7.9 mcg/kg compared to the maximum concentrations found in soy sauce, which were 73 mcg/kg.


Other Chemicals in Soy Sauce


Many commercial soy sauces also contain extremely high levels of chemicals known as chloropropanols, which are created when soy sauce fermentation is rushed using the acid hydrolyation method. Other undesirable substances that appear during chemical hydrolysis are levulinic and formic acids. Instead of beneficial lactic acid, the gas produces hydrogen sulfide, dimethyl sulfide, and furfurol from the amino acid methionine. The hydrolysis process also totally destroys the benefits that are found naturally in the essential amino acid tryptophan.


The next time you go to pour some soya sauce over your healthy chicken, brown rice, and vegetable stir-fry, stop and think about exactly what you are adding to your meal. Soy sauce can significantly increase the likelihood of cancer and it is not the healthy alternative most producers claim it to be.

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