Soy Sauce Benefits and Side Effects

By Adriane Marie •  Updated: 01/03/23 •  13 min read

What are soy sauce benefits and side effects? Is soy sauce low fodmap? Gluten free? Acidic or alkaline? Vegan? Good for you? Healthy? Sustainable? Here are soy sauce pros and cons: all the info on soy sauce that every ethical consumer wants to know…

soy sauce benefits and side effects

Food is something we consume every day. If you’re like me, you do all the research you can to make sure you don’t hurt yourself, the planet, animals or others when shopping. As an ethical consumer myself, I am giving you all the info I’ve found on soy sauce benefits and side effects.

You are going to learn all about soy sauce benefits and side effects. This will include soy sauce benefits for your health and potential risks, soy sauce water footprint and carbon footprint, sustainability, if soy sauce is vegan or impact animals in other ways, and much more. 

After learning if soy sauce is good or bad for you, the environment, animals and human rights, you will be able to make the best choices you can the next time you buy food.

This post is all about soy sauce benefits and side effects that every ethical consumer should know.

Sauce Benefits And Side Effects


Energy: soy sauce is good for / helps possibly reduce allergies, promote digestion | soy sauce is bad for / increases the risk of headaches and migraines (for those sensitive to MSG), numbness, weakness and heart palpitations (if MSG is added),  headaches, sweating, dizziness, itching, rashes, stomach problems and changes in blood pressure (when consumed excessively)

Longevity: soy sauce is good for / helps boost immunity, detoxification, fight and prevent cancer, gut health, lower (bad) LDL cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, reduce inflammation | soy sauce is bad for / increases the risk of increased blood pressure, kidney damage, decreased fertility and cause tumors (if 3-MCPD is added) heart disease and other diseases such as stomach cancer

Appearance: soy sauce is bad for / increases the risk of weight gain (through water retention)

Additionally, soy sauce is…

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Water footprint: low, it takes 613 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of soy sauce / 74 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of soy sauce

Carbon footprint: likely low, 2.0 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of soybeans, a car driving equivalent of 5 miles or 8 kilometers

Destruction: low, soy sauce production is moderately sustainable, the top producing soya producing countries are the US and Brazil, together they produce about 64% of the world’s supply, soya is Brazil’s biggest export by value, there are serious concerns about how much of it is behind deforestation in the Amazon and surrounding regions, however most of the world’s soya is fed to livestock, only 6% of it is eaten directly by humans, eating soy is much better for the environment than eating animal products, soya may also be planted on Amazon land previously deforested for cattle, soy production is associated with monocropping, which causes the soil structure and quality to be so poor that farmers must use chemical fertilizers to encourage plant growth and fruit production, pesticides and fertilizers contaminate ground water and become airborne, creating pollution, monocropping is not an issue if the product is organic

Soy sauce is…


Kills: none, soy sauce production does not require any animals to be killed

Harms: none, soy sauce production does require any animals to be used

Indirectly kills or harms: none, no animals are indirectly killed or harmed from soy sauce production as long as toxic chemicals have not been used, be sure to buy Non-GMO/organic, as pesticides harm and kill wildlife and ecosystems by contaminating soil, water, air and plants that animals eat

Soy sauce is…


Health and safety: varies, overall, agriculture continues to be one of the most dangerous industries, farmworkers may be subject to dehydration, heat stroke, unprotected exposure to harmful, toxic chemicals and pesticides, unsafe machinery and clean drinking water may not always accessible

Living conditions: varies, laborers are often exploited, they may face tough working conditions including long hours in the sun and heat performing physically exhausting tasks, labor laws and rights may or may not be in place, even if worker protection exists, employer violations may go unreported, refugees and migrant workers are especially vulnerable to abuse and mistreatment, fearing consequences of job loss or deportation

Wages: varies, generally farmworkers earn meager wages, there are many cases of underpaid agricultural workers, wage theft and no overtime payment or benefits

Soy sauce…

Where does most soy sauce come from?

The world’s top soy sauce exporting country is China, followed by Japan, USA, Netherlands, Hong Kong, Thailand, Germany, Taiwan, UK and Philippines. Worldwide, the United States produces the most soy followed by Brazil, Argentina, China, India, Paraguay, Canada and Ukraine. In the United States Iowa reported the largest number of acres planted to certified organic soybeans followed by Minnesota and Michigan. 98% percent of soybean meal is used for animal feed (poultry, hogs and cattle mostly) and only 1% is used to produce food for people. Around 70% of soybeans grown in the United States are used for animal feed, poultry being the number one livestock sector consuming soybeans, followed by hogs, dairy, beef and aquaculture.

Is soy sauce nutritious?

No, soy sauce is very high in sodium, and contains monosodium glutamate (MSG).
Another name for soy sauce is soya sauce.

Is soy sauce alkaline or acidic?

Is soy sauce alkaline or acidic?

Soy sauce is acidic once digested. What is the pH level of soy sauce? Soy sauce has a 5.5 pH level once digested. Tamari sauce is an alkaline alternative to soy sauce.

When you eat food, it breaks down to an ash residue that can be neutral, acidic or alkaline. Minerals such as potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, zinc, silver, copper and iron produce an alkaline ash; whereas sulfur, phosphorus, chlorine and iodine, which are found in meat, coffee, dairy and alcohol, leave an acid ash.

Going alkaline easier than ever with this: Acidic and Alkaline Foods List

Is soy sauce gluten free?

Is soy sauce gluten free?

No, soy sauce is not gluten free. Soy sauce contains gluten. Soy sauce is made from soybeans, wheat, salt and a fermenting agent such as yeast or mold, therefore making it a glutinous food. 

While celiac disease may not be as rampant as many marketing trends lead us to believe, you may have a gluten sensitivity…

Celiac and gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar and may include:

There are hundreds of potential symptoms, many of which are also symptoms of other conditions.

Going gluten-free easier than ever with this: Gluten and Gluten Free Foods List

Is soy sauce a common food allergen?

Is soy sauce a common food allergen?

Yes, soy sauce contains common food allergens: soy and wheat. Many people experience allergic reactions to soy sauce.

A group of the eight major allergenic foods, AKA the Big-8, include:

These foods account for about 90% of all food allergies in the United States.

Severe food allergies can be life threatening. Following ingestion of a food allergen, a person with food allergies can experience a severe, life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. 

Persons may still be allergic to and have serious reactions to foods other than the eight foods identified by the law.

Be aware of common dietary restrictions and food allergens with this: The Big 8 Most Common Food Allergens List

Is soy sauce low fodmap?

Is soy sauce low fodmap?

Yes, soy sauce is low fodmap, a food you can eat if on a low fodmap diet. The fermentation process reduces the oligosaccharides in the soybeans, which is why the soy sauce is low FODMAP. Try to limit soy sauce servings to 2 tablespoons.

A low FODMAP diet may help those with bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome).

It’s all about knowing your body. Observe what works and what doesn’t. You body might even react negatively to a low-FODMAP food simply due to intolerance. Everyone is different! Be mindful and patient. Take time to get to know what’s best for your physical health and overall wellbeing.

See this High FODMAP and Low FODMAP List of Foods

Water footprint of soy sauce?

Water footprint of soy sauce?

Soy sauce has a relatively low water footprint compared to other foods.

It takes 613 liters of water to produce 1 kilogram of soy sauce / 74 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of soy sauce.

Did you know that water is a finite, non-renewable resource?

We must do what we can to conserve fresh water and a major way to reduce needless water consumption is to change the way we eat. That’s not to say we need to reduce our water intake…quite the opposite. It’s important for our health to drink lots of water and eat foods that hydrate. The kind of water conservation we’re talking about here is behind the scenes.

How much water does it take to produce an apple? A serving of rice? A steak dinner?

We need to be aware of something referred to as a “water footprint”. That is, the amount of fresh water utilized in the production or supply of goods we consume. As it turns out it takes significantly more water to yield foods that come from animals than foods that come from plants. Imagine how much water a cow needs to consume to generate a piece of beef. Not only how much water a single cow drinks, rather all the water that went into producing the crops that the cow ate.

Find out how much water your food consumes with this: Water Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

Carbon footprint of soy sauce?

Carbon footprint of soy sauce?

Soy sauce has a relatively low carbon footprint compared to other foods.

It takes around 2.0 kg CO2e to produce 1 kilogram or 2.2 pounds of soybeans, a car driving equivalent of 5 miles or 8 kilometers.

Food not only has a water footprint but also a carbon footprint, known as CO2e, which stands for carbon dioxide equivalent. Since carbon measurements are a bit more difficult to comprehend, it is common to equate CO2e to the distance which a car drives in miles or kilometers.

When calculating carbon emissions, some factors may include…

There are a number of steps to reduce energy output. According to Oxford Martin School researchers, if the world went vegan, eliminating animal-derived products, it could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds and avoid climate damages of $1.5 trillion.

But that’s not all!

It’s best to keep the following in mind when grocery shopping:

Find out how much carbon your food emits with this: Carbon Footprints of Foods and Ingredients List

Is soy sauce sustainable?

Is soy sauce sustainable?

Soy sauce production is relatively sustainable unless soy is from Brazil.

A 2018 Oxford University study – which is the most comprehensive analysis to date of the damage farming does to the planet – found that ‘avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your impact on Earth’ as animal farming provides just 18% of calories but takes up 83% of our farmland.

Consuming animal products and byproducts is not environmentally friendly and is one of the worst things for the Earth. Not only is meat production wasteful, it causes enormous amounts of pollution. The industry is one of the biggest causes of climate change.

A 2010 United Nations report said that a global shift towards a vegan diet is vital to save the world the worst impacts of climate change.

Read more about ‘What Makes Food Sustainable Or Unsustainable?’ 

Is soy sauce vegan?

Is soy sauce vegan?

Yes, soy sauce is vegan. Soy sauce is made from fermented soybeans, grain, brine and a type of fungus, not an animal product or byproduct, therefore making it a vegan food. 

According to Sentient Media, “more than 200 million land animals are killed for food around the world every day. Including wild-caught and farmed fishes, we get a total closer to 3 billion animals killed daily.”

Animals of factory farms and the livestock industry are suffering. They live in horrific conditions that often include confinement, physical abuse and unnatural environments…so much so that they need to receive antibiotics to keep from getting ill or spreading disease. They also get growth hormones to become fatter faster and live short lives, being slaughtered as soon as they finish growing and are killed prematurely, well before their natural lifespan.

Because we cannot see for ourselves how these animals live and what they endure does not mean it isn’t happening. The meat, poultry and dairy industries do everything they can to distance us from knowing how our food comes to be in order to keep us in the dark about what we support each time we buy animal derived products and byproducts.

Go vegan for animals!

It’s the best way to help animals and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Speak for animals with your actions, for they cannot speak at all.

Going vegan is easier than ever, at a glance with this: Vegan and Non Vegan Foods List

Does soy sauce have human rights issues?

benefits of buying fair trade, labor rights, human rights and workers rights issues

At this time there have been no major concerns with soy production but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening!

It’s important to stay aware of human rights concerns and worker exploitation that may be associated with specific brands.

Did you know the single largest employer in the world is agriculture? The labor involved behind each and every product cannot go unrecognized. 

Sadly, many labor concerns exist around the world in both developed and developing countries. We must be vigilant to ensure what we buy is not contributing to industries that are unfair to their valuable workers. Some known problems include workplace health and safety, child labor, gender inequality, inadequate pay, wage theft and exploitation. Workers can even experience harassment, humiliation and violence and unfair employers often fail to provide laborers with access to shade, drinking water, restrooms and breaks. Consequently, laborers can face nausea, dizziness, heat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke -the leading cause of farmworker death! 

Such mistreatment is like modern day slavery. Workers are often afraid to report issues because they fear it will result in losing their jobs or deportation. 

Fair trade organizations fight to ensure better social, environmental and economic standards. 

We can improve people’s lives with foods we eat every day simply by buying products that are certified fair trade. 

Be sure to read up on this list of ‘Foods You Should Always Buy Fair Trade

This post was all about soy sauce benefits and side effects.


FoodData Central, soy sauce

Soy sauce made from soy and wheat (shoyu) – FoodData

Adriane Marie

Hi, I'm Adriane, creator of HEALabel! I organize info for you to comprehensively see how purchases impact health, environment, animals and laborers. Stay aware because you care! Subscribe below to get my weekly newsletter with tips, new info and other ethical consumer insight.

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