Health Benefits of Coconut Aminos

Medically Reviewed by Zilpah Sheikh, MD on January 23, 2024
6 min read

Coconut aminos is a dark-colored salty sauce that tastes similar to soy sauce. But instead of being made from soy, coconut aminos comes from the sap (the nectar of the flowers) of the coconut plant, not coconuts. After extraction, the sap is stored and aged. During this time, it ferments due to the natural sugars present within it. Some salt is also added. The final result tastes savory and not at all like coconut.

Coconut aminos vs. soy sauce

Soy sauce is very high in sodium, so coconut aminos might be a good substitute if that's a concern. A tablespoon of soy sauce has 878 milligrams (mg) of sodium, while a tablespoon of coconut aminos sauce has about 198 mg of sodium. The daily recommended intake of sodium is less than 2,300 mg, according to the FDA.

Soy sauce is made of soybeans, wheat, salt, water and yeast. Coconut aminos is soy-free, wheat-free, and gluten-free, so it works well for people with allergies to soy or wheat.

Does coconut aminos taste like soy sauce? Some say yes, while others find it a lot sweeter. It can depend on the brand you use. If you're substituting, the coconut aminos to soy sauce ratio is 1:1. But if that makes your dish too sweet, feel free to add some more salt.

Coconut aminos vs. liquid aminos

Liquid aminos is made of 16 amino acids that come from soybeans. It's a gluten-free product, as it has no wheat. It has about 900 mg of sodium per tablespoon, so it's not a good swap for soy sauce if you're concerned about sodium.

Its taste can vary quite a lot from soy sauce, as there are several different varieties of liquid aminos for sale. However, liquid aminos will be closer to soy sauce in saltiness than coconut aminos, which is sweeter. 

There are no particular health benefits to using liquid aminos if you're not gluten-intolerant.

Tamari vs. coconut aminos

Tamari might be considered the Japanese version of soy sauce. It's made from soybeans but doesn't contain wheat (or at least no more than 10% wheat), though it's full of salt. Tamari has about 670 mg of sodium in a tablespoon. With the same umami as soy sauce, it's a good alternative for people who want to use soy sauce but are gluten-intolerant. (Since some tamari sauces do have wheat in them, read the label carefully.)

Tamari is closer in flavor to soy sauce than coconut aminos. Some say the flavor of tamari is even richer than that of soy sauce.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that many people who use coconut aminos do so because of perceived health benefits. However, there is little research to show that coconut aminos has health benefits, such as lowering your risk of heart disease. Many of the health benefits of coconut that have been studied apply to the coconut fruit or coconut water, not to the coconut sap.

But research suggests that choosing coconut aminos over soy sauce can be beneficial in a few ways:

Allergy-friendly substitute

For many people, coconut aminos is more allergy-friendly than soy sauce. Soy and wheat (or the gluten within wheat) are two of the most common food allergies people have. Soy sauce is made from soy and commonly contains wheat. Coconut aminos acts as a soy-free and gluten-free alternative to soy sauce, and it provides a similar taste without the risk of allergic reactions.

Reduced salt content

Although no research has been done on whether adding coconut aminos to a diet directly improves heart health, using it instead of soy sauce might help. Coconut aminos contains significantly less salt than soy sauce. Consuming too much sodium leads to higher blood pressure and an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Using coconut aminos as a lower-salt alternative to soy sauce could be better for your heart health in the long run.

Since coconut aminos is used in small amounts, it doesn't provide a significant source of nutrients, vitamins, or minerals to most people.

Nutrients per serving

About 1 teaspoon (5 milliliters) of coconut aminos contains:

Things to look out for

Although coconut aminos contains lower amounts of sodium than soy sauce, it's not a low-salt food item. If you are looking to limit your salt intake, carefully read the product labels and use coconut aminos in small amounts.

When buying coconut aminos, be familiar with naming. Some brands call their coconut aminos, "coconut liquid aminos" or more simply, "liquid aminos." However, there are also liquid aminos on the market made from soybeans. Double-check jar labels that read "liquid aminos' to make sure you’re getting the right sauce.

If a recipe calls for coconut aminos sauce and you don't have any, consider using one of the following substitutes, which will provide flavor to your dish, though some might have drawbacks.

  • Soy sauce: High in sodium; contains wheat, so not for people who can't tolerate gluten.
  • Tamari: High in sodium, may contain wheat
  • Liquid aminos: High in sodium, but gluten- and wheat-free
  • Fish sauce: Made from fermented fish and salt, it's high in sodium and has a strong "fishy" flavor
  • Oyster sauce: Sweeter and thicker than some of the others on this list, it's often made with soy sauce (in addition to sugar, salt, and oyster extract), so it may not be gluten-free; relatively high in sodium
  • Worcestershire sauce: A mix of vinegar, sugar, tamarind extract, anchovies, and other ingredients, the flavor profile differs from the others on this list; some versions are gluten-free, others use malt vinegar, which is made from barley; about the same sodium content as coconut aminos

In general, the ratio of substitution is 1:1, but coconut aminos has less sodium than most of the sauces on this list, so you may want to use half the amount of your substitute and see how that tastes. You can always add more.

Note: Several of these sauces come in lower-sodium versions if you want to use them but are concerned about the salt volume.

Use it as you would soy sauce. You can use coconut aminos as:

  • Additional flavor for sauces, soups, and salad dressings
  • Dipping sauce for sushi, egg rolls, wontons, and more
  • Flavoring for rice, noodles, or vegetable dishes
  • Marinade for fish, chicken, or other meat

Where can you buy coconut aminos?

It's available at most large grocery chains and health food stores as well as online. Keep in mind that it usually costs a lot more than regular soy sauce.

Coconut aminos sauce is a good substitute for soy sauce as it's much lower in sodium, as well as gluten- and wheat-free, but it still adds a lot of flavor. Despite its name, it doesn't taste like coconut, though it's made from coconut sap. Its taste is sweeter than that of soy sauce.

Is coconut aminos gluten-free?

Yes. As the product is without wheat, coconut aminos are gluten-free.

Is liquid aminos the same as coconut aminos?

No. Liquid aminos is made from soy, while coconut aminos sauce is made from coconut sap. Liquid aminos has a lot more sodium than coconut aminos.

Is coconut aminos healthier than soy sauce?

Coconut aminos has less sodium than soy sauce and is free from soy and wheat, two common allergies. But it's not a low-salt food and there's not much research about it having any special health benefits.