MSG or Monosodium Glutamate is a salt that can be naturally found in our food. It does make our food taste better and is added to get the meaty savory taste. Some people say it gives them a headache, makes them nauseous, etc. This was called Chinese Restaurant Syndrome. We still see many noodles and snacks packets printed with the “No added MSG” logo. Still, there is a lot of controversy on this condiment. One FDA report also says that they couldn’t find links to reported negative effects. There are a lot of questions in this matter so we want to look into this matter and answer the question that is MSG bad for you?
MSG is also called “Ajinomoto” in many places. Its Japanese meaning is “essence of taste” and it is a company. However, the salt is known from the company’s name in different markets. It is mostly used in Chinese food, Asian restaurants, and junk foods. It adds a savory taste to food and is used in many Asian items. One of the popular ways of manufacturing is the hydrolysis of wheat and other vegetable protein.
Natural MSG is very common and found in many foods. Different people of various regions have a different view on this. As said earlier FDA puts it in GRAS designation while some countries categorize it as unhealthy. “GRAS” means generally recognized as safe. Still many people fear it and many people love it.
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In Nepal and India, they are taken as a bad thing. Almost all Nepalese noodles and fried chips packets clearly state that they don’t have added MSG. By the way, Gluten and Monosodium Glutamate are not the same things. So please be clear of this matter. In India, there was a huge debacle for finding MSG in Maggie a few years ago. Similarly “Mayos” from Nepal also faced similar issues.
Facts, FDA, and Use
Most people want to have good and tasty food. Actually, all of us want tasty food in our lives. MSG adds the Umami taste to the food. Many people like it and use it in little amount. Some people also fear it due to many confusion, fear, and controversies. In the world of science statement and counter-statement happen regularly. For now, there are some positive reports that suggest that older claims may be biased.
Here we want to make some things clear to people on the food they eat. People might think that their food is MSG-free but that is not actually true. Glutamate in food is very common. We can find it in the free state in tomatoes, potatoes, grapes, etc. This free Glutamate can combine with sodium to produce MSG. Most experts say that packaged and processed foods have them. Companies might not have added additional amounts but food products naturally have this compound.
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Doctors still recommend people to avoid its consumption as far as possible. Especially it is recommended that MSG should not be fed to infants. This is why most junk foods have a label behind them on this topic. Many people love it because of the taste but some hesitate from it. As stated earlier, the U.S. FDA has found no evidence linking it with any negative side effects so it is considered safe by them.
Is MSG Bad for you?
Let us make it clear that Gluten is not related to glutamic acid. Monosodium Glutamate is considered safe for people with Celiac disease. Basically, MSG is a salt of amino acids. Amino acids are found in food with high protein content. FDA report says that they have not found any solid evidence that indicates negative or bad health effects. However, we have to always consider the amount. In the right amount, everything is good. And in large amounts, anything can be dangerous.
MSG is sodium salt and it can increase blood pressure. So it is not recommended for people with hypertension or diabetes. Pre-hypertensive people should also be very careful about their salt intake and look after food that has Monosodium Glutamate. Most people like this chemical because it gives meaty flavor to the food. Let us say it makes food tasty. Some also say that it makes food taste more filling. So some people tend to eat less if there is some added MSG. Many people say this in parties and buffets. There are some studies that say that food with MSG increases satiety.
When people feel sated they eat less. This means calorie intake is less. It may be bad for some people. But it is good for controlling obesity. This topic also has many studies that are in support and in opposition. In 1990, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) did some tests and stated MSG as safe. But they found some symptoms such as headache, drowsiness, and numbness in some sensitive people who consumed more than 3 grams without food.
Studies and Sensitivity
Some say that the many researches and methods are flawed because the tests show the use of a high dosage of Monosodium Glutamate. Some tests also showed use without food which is very unrealistic. In high amounts everything is dangerous. Here we take stands with US Food and Drug Administration. FASEB report also says that the symptoms were seen in sensitive people when they consumed a high dosage without food.
MSG is a popular salt that is feared and loved equally by people. Many countries have very strict rules and regulations regarding processed foods with MSG. Some companies in South Asian countries also place a label stating that they have not added any additional amount MSG. European Union also has rules and limits for its use and quantity. There may have been many studies but people still fear. Many studies state that the so-called “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” that included symptoms like heart palpitation, numbness, headache, sweating and weakness may be due to the Nocebo effect.
We are showing new information and research here. Still, many people don’t know that Monosodium Glutamate can be found naturally as well. People are still scared of this and have an MSG allergy. Best advice from everyone is always eating good homemade fresh food. Try to eat less spice, salt, and condiments. Avoiding processed and junk food is the best practice. However, if you like the taste, you may add a little amount in your food.