Coconut Aminos vs Soy Sauce

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Dr. Jennifer Hughes, MD

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If you’re a fan of sushi, stir-fries, or other popular dishes in Asian cuisine, you’re likely familiar with soy sauce. 

However, as soy sauce contains gluten and soy, many people can’t enjoy the salty condiment—until now, with the rising popularity of coconut aminos. 

Coconut aminos make an excellent gluten-free and soy-free replacement for soy sauce—but what’s the difference between the two?

Let’s take a closer look at what coconut aminos are, the nutritional and taste differences between coconut aminos and soy sauce, and some frequently asked questions about the two condiments. 

Coconut Aminos Vs. Soy Sauce Nutrition

Coconut Aminos vs Soy Sauce comp

As you can see, coconut aminos contain about one-third of the amount of sodium compared to soy sauce, but have more calories and sugar per serving. 

Although 3g of natural sugar from coconut sap is not much, it can add up if you use multiple tablespoons in a recipe. 

Conversely, soy sauce contains more sodium but has small amounts of protein, potassium, and magnesium. 

Coconut Aminos/TBSPSoy Sauce/TBSP
Calories159
Carbohydrates3 g0.8 g
Sugar3 g0.1 g
Sodium270 mg (11% of the Daily Value)880-1,000 mg (36-41% of the DV)
Protein0 g1.3 g
Potassium48 mg (1% of the DV)70 mg (2% of the DV)
Magnesium Trace amounts12 mg (3% of the DV)

Taste of Soy Sauce Vs. Coconut Aminos

Coconut aminos have a sweeter and more mild flavor than soy sauce, which is better known for its salty and rich taste. 

However, coconut aminos still have a salty taste, and both condiments are loaded with umami flavor.

Most people replace coconut aminos with soy sauce in a 1:1 ratio, but if you’re using full-sodium soy sauce, you may want to have a little less soy sauce and adjust to taste to avoid an overly salty flavor. 

What Are Coconut Aminos?

Coconut aminos are a condiment made from fermented coconut palm sap—sometimes referred to as coconut-blossom nectar.

Although coconut aminos are derived from coconuts, they do not have a coconut flavor. 

Most people describe coconut aminos as having a salty, umami, and slightly sweet taste that is milder than soy sauce. 

Many gluten- or soy-intolerant people use coconut aminos as a replacement for soy sauce. 

Others utilize coconut aminos because they have approximately two-thirds less sodium compared to soy sauce.

While coconut aminos contain 270mg of sodium per tablespoon, soy sauce has 880mg for the same amount.

What is Soy Sauce?

Soy sauce is a liquid condiment made from fermented soybeans, wheat, and salt. 

As one of the world’s oldest condiments, soy sauce has a rich history that originated in the Western Han dynasty of ancient China over 2,000 years ago

As salt was rare and valuable at the time, fermenting it was a method to concentrate and extend the salt’s life—either with soybeans or fish, as seen with soy sauce and fish sauce, respectively. 

A few hundred years later, Buddhist monks introduced soy sauce into Japanese culture, where it’s referred to as shoyu.

Now, soy sauce is utilized in both Eastern and Western countries—in fact, soy sauce is the third most popular condiment in the United States after ketchup and mayonnaise. 

However, the salty flavor that people love so much means that soy sauce is also extremely high in sodium—about 880mg per tablespoon, or over one-third of your recommended daily maximum intake.

Soy sauce also contains wheat and soy, so it is not an option for people with allergies to these proteins. 

FAQs

Do Coconut Aminos Taste Like Soy Sauce?

Yes, coconut aminos taste like soy sauce, although they are milder and a bit sweeter than soy sauce.

Plus, soy sauce is saltier than coconut aminos.

Are Coconut Aminos the Same As Soy Sauce?

Coconut aminos and soy sauce have similar flavor profiles, but the former is made from fermented coconut tree sap, and the latter is created from fermented soybeans and wheat. 

As coconut aminos are slightly sweeter than soy sauce, some people argue that the sweetness is undesirable for certain meals or recipes. 

Plus, coconut aminos are considerably more expensive than soy sauce and can be harder to find in regular grocery stores. 

Are Coconut Aminos Healthy?

If consumed in small amounts, coconut aminos are not an unhealthy condiment—but they’re also not considered a health food. 

Coconut aminos still contain sodium and sugar, so it’s best to use this condiment moderately.

As coconut aminos are allergen-friendly, they are much healthier for people with gluten or soy allergies or intolerances, as soy sauce contains both gluten and soy.

Do Coconut Aminos Taste Like Coconut?

Coconut aminos don’t taste much like coconut, although they do have a slightly sweet taste due to being derived from fermented coconut tree sap. 

Are Coconut Aminos Healthier Than Soy Sauce?

Coconut aminos are slightly healthier than soy sauce, as they have about two-thirds less sodium than soy sauce. 

Replacing soy sauce with coconut aminos can help reduce your overall sodium intake, which is linked to lower blood pressure, cardiovascular health, and weight.

Research has shown that high salt intake is significantly linked to higher body fat levels, with each 1-gram per day increase in sodium raising the risk of obesity by 26%. 

Chronically high sodium consumption is also associated with organ damage, including the kidneys, heart, and brain. 

Therefore, reducing sodium intake by switching to coconut aminos could be beneficial. 

However, coconut aminos contain more sugar than soy sauce (3g per tablespoon compared to less than 1g), so consuming coconut aminos in moderate amounts is recommended.

Are Coconut Aminos Anti-Inflammatory?

Coconut aminos are not considered an anti-inflammatory food. 

Although coconut sap itself has anti-inflammatory properties, there is no research suggesting that coconut aminos provide the same benefits. 

Do You Have To Refrigerate Coconut Aminos?

Coconut aminos don’t technically need to be refrigerated but are ideally stored in a cool, dark place—which could be the refrigerator. 

However, like soy sauce, coconut aminos may last longer if kept in the fridge after opening. 

Can You Substitute Soy Sauce for Coconut Aminos? 

Yes, you can substitute soy sauce for coconut aminos and vice versa. 

Other common substitutes for soy sauce or coconut aminos include Worcestershire sauce, teriyaki sauce, liquid aminos, or fish sauce. 

Key Takeaways 

  • Both coconut aminos and soy sauce are popular condiments for Asian cuisine. 
  • While soy sauce contains soy, wheat, and gluten, coconut aminos are an excellent gluten-free and soy-free substitute. 
  • Soy sauce contains about two-thirds more sodium, but coconut aminos contain more sugar. 
  • The taste between the two is similar, but soy sauce is richer and saltier, while coconut aminos are slightly sweet. 

Farquhar WB, Edwards DG, Jurkovitz CT, Weintraub WS. Dietary sodium and health: more than just blood pressure. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2015;65(10):1042-1050. doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2014.12.039

Ma Y, He FJ, MacGregor GA. High salt intake: independent risk factor for obesity?. Hypertension. 2015;66(4):843-849. doi:10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.115.05948

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