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Wait, should I be eating soy sauce or tamari?

By Rachel O'Regan |


I Quit Sugar - Wait, what's the difference between soy sauce and tamari?

They’re both brown, salty and the by-product of fermented soybeans. But which one – soy sauce or tamari – should you be eating?

You might have noticed we opt for tamari as a dipping sauce and flavour enhancer for many of our Asian-inspired recipes (Sugar-Free Honey and Soy Chicken Wings, anyone?). While we’re generally not fans of processed soy, tamari is one soy product we can’t get enough of.

So, why not soy sauce? To the naked eye, soy sauce and tamari are pretty much identical, but rest assured there are some tricky differences between the two. Here’s the breakdown:

Tamari contains fewer toxins

In both cases, soybeans undergo a fermentation process that breaks down indigestible phytates (a compound which binds to vital minerals like iron and zinc, contributing to malabsorption). This is why we always recommend fermented soy products over highly processed soy proteins, vegan “meats” and the like (we’ll be posting more on this soon!).

But the big difference is very important for some of you: wheat. While most soy sauces contain wheat, tamari is often gluten-free so it’s easier on the gut for folk with sensitivities.

Tamari is (probably) more nutrient-dense

We did a little label searching and found tamari has almost 50 per cent more protein than soy sauce and about 15 per cent more essential minerals like iron and manganese. But let’s be honest – there’s not too much gold standard science to suggest that one is healthier than the other (yet).

Then there’s the taste…

We like to choose our soy sauce the way we choose our wine – if tamari is a rich, soulful red then generic soy sauce is the $7 stuff you pick up at the supermarket. Tamari’s taste is stronger, with a slight caramel thickness that makes for a great dipping sauce or flavour enhancer for stews and stocks.

So, which one should YOU choose?

Well, if you’re gluten-free, definitely go with tamari. Just check the label first for any traces of wheat. And if you’re not gluten-free… well, we still recommend tamari! It contains more protein and tastes stronger, so you’ll get more bang for your buck if you’re subbing it for salt.

Oh, and this bit is important…

Tamari or soy sauce, make sure it’s non-GMO. Yep, it might be a little more expensive, but soybeans are one of the most genetically modified crops in the world! While the jury is still out on whether GMO products are harmful, some studies suggest that GMO soy could trigger more allergies and immune responses than wild soy. Just to be on the safe side, we’re steering clear of that whole business!

Do you use tamari or soy sauce? Have you noticed the differences between the two? Let us know in the comments below.

Please be respectful of other participants in the conversation. We'd love you to keep your comments respectful, friendly and relevant. Differences of opinion are welcome, but trolling and abuse of other commentators and the IQS editorial team is not and will result in blacklisting.

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