Shoyu or Shouldn't You?

Wellness Correspondent Abigail Royce Explores the Salty Question

Shoyu or Shouldn't You?

I’m sure you’ve all heard the number one cause of death in America is heart disease. Yet did you know that the death rate for Hawaiians from heart disease is 44% higher than that for the total U.S. population (Source: U.S. Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, 1987).

What is it about our seemingly healthy lifestyles that may be contributing to these outrageous statistics? Perhaps it is our number one condiment poured on rice, sushi, eggs and steak? Heck, it’s the same thing I’ve seen some friends squeeze over a hamburger or hot dogs… Shoyu, of course!

I’ve also seen many a friend’s jaw drop when I tell them that there are 1,350 mg of sodium per tablespoon of soy sauce. Now, I’m guesstimating that a tablespoon doesn’t even cover the amount of soy I pour over my wasabi at Sansei or Tokkuri-Tei on a Friday night. But here’s something to keep in mind: For the average adult who does NOT have high blood pressure, the daily sodium intake should be kept between 1,100 and 3,300 milligrams. Now, I’m no mathematician, but when you add up your daily sodium intake with the already plentiful amounts found in most processed foods like cereal, most of us exceed our recommended daily dose at least threefold.

So what’s the big deal with all that sodium in our shoyu? The American Heart Association (AHA) notes that for many people, sodium increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart and vascular problems, stroke and kidney disease. 

Now, I love the salty goodness just as much as anyone else, and yes, we do need some salt for a balanced state of health. So, perhaps we can find some ways to still enjoy the delicious foods of Hawaii and find a healthy balance.

Awareness is key; just thinking about it next time you’re out—or in the kitchen— should help. When dining out, opt for the low-sodium version of soy, and use a little less. At home, try Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (a soy-tasting, slightly lower sodium seasoning with other healthful attributes found at most health food stores). Drink more water. Sweat. Keep the table salt off the table. Try alternative seasonings like: turmeric, onion, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, wine (as a flavor enhancer when cooking), paprika, cumin, mustard seeds… the list goes on.  And so should you, free of heart disease and full of energy!

Try alternative seasonings from salt like: turmeric, onion, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, wine (as a flavor enhancer when cooking), paprika, cumin, mustard seeds…