Why Is MSG Bad For Your Health?

Reviewed on 11/30/2020

The ideal serving of MSG should be less than 0.5 g in food.
The ideal serving of MSG should be less than 0.5 g in food.

Glutamate is one of the many amino acids (building blocks of protein) found naturally in the body. Glutamate may be naturally present in some of the protein-rich foods, such as cheese, milk, meat, fish, and several different vegetables. MSG levels are high especially in foods such as tomatoes, mushrooms, and Parmesan cheese. Thus, it is clear that MSG within the limit is not at all bad for your health.

One of the findings concluded that MSG is safe, although in some, MSG, when consumed above 3 g, may induce symptoms such as headache or drowsiness. The ideal serving of MSG should be less than 0.5 g in food.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies MSG as “generally recognized as safe,” just like sugar and baking soda. FDA also claims that the body metabolizes MSG exactly like it metabolizes natural glutamate.

Why is MSG bad for your health?

Although many findings state the benefits of monosodium glutamate (MSG), many studies have linked MSG with various forms of toxicity. The detrimental effects of MSG, as alleged by the scientists, include:

  • Weight gain: Some studies have linked MSG consumption to weight gain obesity. There are no sufficient data and research to claim that MSG consumption is associated with obesity.
  • Asthma: Some studies have proved episodes of asthma in people who take a high amount of MSG, whereas some findings couldn’t establish the connection between MSG and asthma.
  • Neurotoxicity: Scientists have earlier claimed that MSG consumption results in the release of excessive glutamate in the brain, causing neurotoxicity (excessive stimulation of the brain), and it is linked to strokes. These claims have been refuted by other scientists stating that MSG when consumed in a lower amount does not cause any neurotoxicity.
  • Chinese restaurant syndrome: In some people, MSG above 3 g may induce a group of symptoms, which include:
    • Headache
    • Drowsiness
    • Sweating
    • Facial pressure or tightness
    • Numbness, tingling, or burning in the face, neck, and other areas
    • Rapid, fluttering heartbeat
    • Chest pain
    • Nausea
    • Weakness
    • These symptoms are usually mild and resolve on their own.

What is MSG?

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is the sodium form of amino acid, glutamic acid, and a type of glutamate. MSG acts as a flavor enhancer when added to the food. It doesn’t have color or texture of its own and enhances the natural flavor of the food rather than exerting any taste of its own. Glutamate exerts the fifth essential taste, that is, Umami. Umami taste receptors have a particular affinity for free glutamate.

Replacing table salt with some MSG will reduce the sodium content because MSG has two-thirds less sodium than table salt.

What are the benefits of MSG?

MSG controversy has caused people to stop using MSG in their food. However, when used in minimal amounts, MSG can have the following benefits:

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References
https://blogs.webmd.com/food-fitness/20190219/is-msg-really-so-bad

https://dash.harvard.edu/bitstream/handle/1/8846733/Sing05.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5938543/#:~:text=In%20many%20countries%20MSG%20goes,effects%20on%20the%20reproductive%20organs.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/320191030_Effects_of_monosodium_glutamate_MSG_on_human_health_a_systematic_review

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/fsn3.499

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