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The Side Effects of Eating Teriyaki Sauce

Here are some things that may happen if you regularly consume this sauce.
FACT CHECKED BY Jordan Powers Willard

We all love good-tasting food. And sometimes achieving this means flavoring our food with spices, herbs, marinades, dressings, vinegars, juices, and sauces. One well-liked sauce making an appearance in various dishes and hailing from Japanese-inspired cuisine is teriyaki sauce. This sweet, tangy, and savory sauce is often used as a glaze for poultry, meat, fish, tofu, and vegetables.

Our diets are ultimately determined by the regular eating choices we make over and over, not just one product we might enjoy sometimes to season a nice meal. However, does teriyaki sauce deliver any interesting "side effects" we should be aware of before making it a usual part of our grocery store haul?

Here we look at the side effects of eating teriyaki sauce. To learn more about sauces, check out 7 Most Famous Sauces in Fast-Food History.

You may overconsume sodium.

As with many other sauces on the market, the flavor in these products could be simply attributed to a hefty dose of salt. Teriyaki sauce includes soy sauce—a known high-sodium offender—as a main component, alongside other added salt in the ingredient list.

The set daily reference value (DRV) recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium—one straight teaspoon of salt—be consumed daily by adults. One tablespoon serving of teriyaki sauce delivers about 689 mg of sodium, and you're likely to not stop at one tablespoon when sitting down to a meal. Too much sodium consumption is associated with increased higher blood pressure and elevated heart disease and stroke risk.

You could aggravate irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Woman sitting on the bed with pain.

If you're one of the 15% of people worldwide suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), teriyaki sauce could intensify symptoms. This gastrointestinal condition can be triggered by ingestion of fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs) in the diet. Garlic and onion are known fermentable carbohydrates that could lead to flareups like abdominal discomfort, diarrhea or constipation, gas, and bloating.

You may exceed added sugar goals.

Too much sugar in the diet from sources like cane sugar, beet sugar, molasses, syrups, nectars, and honey can easily start to crowd out otherwise good nutrition on our plates. Sugar isn't just in desserts, sodas, and candies: Check labels of your go-to breakfast bars, cereal staples, favorite juices, preferred condiments, and yes, even sauces. Teriyaki sauce provides three to eight grams of added sugar per tablespoon, and this can add up if we don't measure how much we use, and it is consumed frequently. Most adults should strive to stay below 50 grams of added sugar each day.

You could calm temporary indigestion.

woman smiling and holding stomach

In an interesting contrast, if you are simply experiencing an upset stomach out of the blue, ginger is a common ingredient in teriyaki sauce, and this root could ease abdominal discomfort associated with short-lived indigestion. Stomach aches, nausea, and heartburn could be soothed by ginger, and most teriyaki sauces include this ingredient.

Be mindful of where ginger falls in the ingredient list: Ingredients which are most prominent are towards the beginning of the list while those that are negligible are towards the end. Look for a teriyaki sauce with ginger toward the front of the list. Also, be sure to address any underlying causes of indigestion or nausea, and don't rely on teriyaki sauce as a consistent remedy for these issues. Speak with your doctor about any gastrointestinal concerns you have.

You may experience gradual weight gain.

Teriyaki sauce is considered an ultra-processed food that contains little to no whole foods and is associated with weight gain, as discussed in a 2019 study in Cell Metabolism. Additionally, any excess calories in our diet beyond what we expend can lead to a calorie surplus which can be a catalyst for weight gain.

Teriyaki sauce contains between 15–45 calories per tablespoon, depending on the brand. Most weight gain occurs progressively over months and years, not days or weeks. The small food decisions we make repeatedly can predict the likelihood of weight gain in the future and habits such as overdoing sauces on food can be a contributing factor.

Sauces like teriyaki sauce can add terrific flavor to foods we eat but may also deliver some unique side effects. Be aware of the nutrition in each bottle you use and balance the use of this product with other foods and drinks in your diet.

Molly Hembree, MS, RD, LD
Molly Hembree, MS, RD, LD, is a nationally recognized registered dietitian. Read more about Molly