Coconut aminos is a dark brown sauce made by fermenting coconut palm sap with sea salt. Many people consider it a healthier alternative to soy sauce with much less salt.

Coconut aminos tastes similar to soy but is slightly sweeter. Despite its name, it does not taste like coconut but adds umami, or a savory flavor, to foods.

It does not contain any soy, wheat, or gluten, so it is a good soy sauce substitute for people with food allergies or intolerances.

This article explains what coconut aminos is and explores any potential health benefits. It also explains how to use the sauce in cooking and suggests alternatives for people who prefer not to use it.

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Coconut aminos is a savory sauce that people use to flavor food. To make the sauce, people collect the nectar from a coconut palm’s unopened flower buds, mix it with salt, and leave it to ferment.

Coconut aminos is similar to a light soy sauce but tastes less salty and slightly sweeter, because of its natural sugars. In cooking, people can substitute coconut aminos for soy sauce and still enjoy the umami flavor.

Fermented foods are becoming increasingly popular and are associated with gastrointestinal health. However, a 2019 study concludes that there is not enough evidence to determine whether fermented foods impact gut health.

Studies suggest that coconut oil has many health benefits, such as reducing heart disease risk and helping treat diabetes and cancer. However, studies into the effects of coconut aminos specifically are lacking.

A 2015 article about the coconut tree points to studies suggesting various health properties of coconuts, including:

  • anti-inflammatory
  • antioxidant
  • antibacterial
  • antifungal
  • antitumor

Other potential benefits of coconut aminos include:

It is allergy-friendly

Coconut aminos is allergy-friendly. It contains no wheat, gluten, or soy, so it is suitable for people who exclude these from their diets.

However, a 2021 study shows that people who are allergic to soy may also be sensitive to coconut and walnuts.

Learn more about the gluten-free diet here.

It is lower in salt than soy sauce

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) recommends limiting sodium to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day. That is roughly 1 teaspoon. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that most Americans eat more than that. They estimate that people eat about 3,400 mg a day.

According to the DGA, condiments and gravies make up about 3% of a person’s daily sodium intake. Choosing lower salt varieties or alternative flavorings can help reduce sodium in the diet.

Coconut aminos is not low salt, but it contains less than soy sauce. Sodium content varies widely between brands, from 66–160 mg per 5 milliliter teaspoon, which is about 2–5% of the daily recommended limit. Soy sauce contains around 300 mg per teaspoon.

Learn more about salt here.

It contains amino acids

As the name suggests, coconut aminos contain several amino acids, which are the basic building blocks of proteins. They are necessary for building muscle and producing hormones in the body.

The amount of amino acids varies between brands of coconut aminos. A person can consume far more amino acids from foods such as:

  • meat
  • fish
  • eggs
  • dairy foods
  • wholegrains
  • vegetables

Some drawbacks of coconut aminos include:

  • Coconut aminos usually cost more than soy sauce and is not as widely available.
  • Although it has less salt than soy, coconut aminos is still a highly salted condiment.
  • Coconut aminos does not contain significant amounts of vitamins or minerals, and is not a nutrient-dense food.

In terms of flavor, coconut aminos is sweeter and subtler than soy, and the choice to use it may come down to personal taste.

Some people use coconut aminos as a direct replacement for soy sauce. Its flavor profile is sweeter than soy, less salty, and also less intense, so dishes may not taste exactly the same.

Coconut aminos adds flavor to rice, noodle, and vegetable dishes. It is also suitable as a marinade or dipping sauce.

People may choose not to use soy sauce in their cooking, but still want depth of flavor. These sauces may be suitable as alternatives:

  • Liquid aminos: Manufacturers soak soybeans in an acidic solution to extract the amino acids and use these to make the sauce.
  • Fish sauce: This is another strongly flavored, highly salted condiment that adds umami flavor to food. People usually make it with fermented fish, although sometimes people use shrimp.
  • Worcestershire sauce: This is a British sauce made by fermenting anchovies with vinegar, sugars, and spices. It is not as salty as soy but still adds a savory flavor.

Learn more about liquid aminos here.

Coconut aminos is a savory condiment used to flavor Asian-inspired recipes. It is similar to soy sauce but is usually lighter in color and tastes sweeter.

If people like the flavor, they can substitute coconut aminos for soy sauce in recipes, helping to reduce the overall salt content of the dish.

Coconut aminos is suitable for vegans, vegetarians, and most people with soy or gluten allergies.