When one person recommends it, it's a novelty. Two, it's coincidence. But when the entire Paleo world embraces a food? That's a trend with staying power.
Nutritionists are going gaga for coconut amino acids, the salty-sweet sauce that adds umami flavor to nearly any dish. But why are the healthiest people in the world going crazy for this condiment that basically seems like soy sauce? The answer lies in the micronutrients inside the bottle.
Coconut aminos evolved out of our love of umami flavoring, and the amino acid glutamate is mainly responsible for the meaty, savory taste of umami. The ultimate umami food? Soy sauce.
And while sushi is pretty great with a dash of soy, that condiment isn't necessarily the best choice for all dietary needs. "Your average commercialized soy sauce is far from the highly fermented, unpasteurized and healthful soy sauce of traditional Asian cultures. Instead of using time for fermentation and aging, chemical brewing has taken its place to speed up production," notes holistic nutritionist Kara Griffin.
Made from fermented soy beans and wheat, it contains two of the most allergenic food groups, according to Griffin, "making it an unsuspecting trigger food for those who are gluten intolerant." Plus, MSG naturally forms in soy sauce during the fermentation process, making the stuff problematic for many. Even worse, soybeans are one of the most genetically modified crops around, and there's no telling if the soybeans used to make the salty condiment are GMO-free or not.
The answer every sensitive stomach has been waiting for? Coconut aminos. Made from just coconut sap and sea salt, there's no shame in its game—it's a raw, vegan, organic, Paleo, gluten-free, soy-free, non-GMO, non-MSG, kosher (!) answer to soy sauce.
Another added bonus? Coconut aminos contain 17 naturally occurring amino acids—up to 14 times the amount found in soy sauce or other chemically produced liquid amino products. This is especially important for those that abstain from eating meat, because amino acids are a building block of proteins and the human metabolism.
Our bodies can produce 10 of the 20 amino acids, and the rest we can absorb through our nutrition. For vegan or vegetarian eaters, it can be challenging to get the necessary amount of amino acids in a plant-based diet—meat, eggs, and dairy are some of the foods with the highest amino acid content. But sprinkle a little coconut aminos over rice, and you're good!
For nutritionists working with clients who have dietary issues, coconut aminos are a godsend. It adds flavor and depth to dishes without sabotaging the health factor. Plus, it tastes really good. Try it as a dipping sauce, in marinades, or any other time you'd reach for the soy sauce.
Photo credit: Paul Delmont