A Bite-Size Read for Your Health and Your Waistline
Liquid aminos…“liquid who?” I hear you.
You might recognize the word aminos? Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. In the case of liquid aminos, you get either 16 or 17 amino acids (depending on the brand and formula) that are a combination of essential and nonessential amino acids. As I’ve written before, whenever we see the word essential with a nutrient, it means our bodies cannot make it, we must take it. Fundamentally, amino acids are critical for building muscle, regulating gene expression, cell signaling, hair growth, immunity, and more. That’s why liquid aminos are a tasty way to level up your seasoning!
Liquid aminos taste like soy sauce, although I find them a bit less salty (and I’m super sensitive to salty things). Personally, I don’t need a lot of liquid aminos to get the desired flavor, but if you added too much or need to tone down the salty flavor, add a squeeze of lemon. If you’re a foodie, you’ve probably heard of the flavor umami. Umami is one of the five major taste sensations — salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami. Umami is like a savory, meaty, kind of flavor. It’s triggered by the presence of free glutamate. Liquid aminos contain natural glutamate because of the breakdown of the proteins in the soybeans or the coconut sap (depending on the source). Therefore, it stimulates that umami flavor. By the way, you’ve heard of glutamate before…remember monosodium glutamate (MSG)?!
Other than the amino acids, why might we want to try liquid aminos? There’s research showing that consuming umami-flavored broths and soups before meals may help reduce feelings of hunger. Full disclosure, as I look at this, the results could also be a function of having a cup or two of warm liquid ahead of a meal, plus the umami flavor. We need more research on this, but I think it’s interesting.
The salt front may be another reason to try this alternative. Liquid aminos and soy sauce have very similar flavors. Both soy sauce and liquid aminos from soy contain a lot of sodium, around 300 mg in a teaspoon. Coconut aminos have less salt. You can look at each manufacturer and what tastes good to you; you might find that coconut aminos taste different (a little coconut-y?).
Another reason I prefer liquid aminos over soy sauce is preservatives. Liquid aminos do not contain preservatives. Typically, soy sauce contains sodium benzoate, a preservative used to increase a food’s shelf life and prevent bacteria and fungus from growing. Sodium benzoate is generally recognized as safe, which means it can be consumed in small quantities, but you might be allergic to it. If you’ve ever noticed hives, swelling or runny nose, that could be an indication of a reaction to the preservative. I personally have had hives from soy sauce. Go for the liquid aminos which don’t have the chemical preservatives.
Liquid aminos go great on veggies, fish, and honestly, anything that feels a little bland! Since liquid aminos and soy sauce are both made from soybeans (unless it’s coconut aminos), this seasoning is naturally gluten-free. Soy sauce is made with yeast and wheat (which is why it has gluten) but if you’re anti-soybean or you’re on a diet plan that doesn’t allow you to eat beans or legumes, you can do the coconut aminos. You could also use it for your sushi or on rice. Put it in salad dressings, soups, broths, or anytime a recipe calls for soy sauce.
It goes without saying if you’re allergic steer clear. Watch your quantity if you’re keeping an eye on sodium, but the next time you’re in the store, maybe pick up a bottle of liquid amino. It could be a fun way to upgrade your pantry, and your home-cooking, with a little umami.