Is MSG Truly Unhealthy? All You Need to Know


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Is MSG Truly Unhealthy? All You Need to Know: Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a common flavor additive that has a repute for being dangerous to your health. While some people could also be extra delicate to MSG than others, specialists typically contemplate it protected, especially in smaller doses.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a flavor enhancer that has been broadly used for roughly 100 years (1Trusted Source).

In addition to being naturally current in certain foods, it’s a common food additive in Chinese recipes, canned vegetables and soups, and different processed goods.

For years, MSG has been seen as an unhealthy ingredient. However, newer analysis questions the accuracy of its purported adverse results on human health.

This article examines MSG and what present proof has to say about its health results.

What is MSG?

MSG is brief for monosodium glutamate.

It’s a flavor enhancer derived from L-glutamic acid, which is of course current in many foods. L-glutamic acid is a nonessential amino acid, which means that your body can produce it by itself and doesn’t want to get it from food (1Trusted Source).

MSG is a white, odorless, crystalline powder generally used as a food additive. In the food trade, it’s referred to as E621. It dissolves simply in water, separating into sodium and free glutamate (2Trusted Source).

It’s made by fermenting carb sources like sugar beet, sugar cane, and molasses (3Trusted Source).

There’s no chemical difference between the glutamic acid found naturally in some foods and that found in MSG. This means your body can’t differentiate between the 2 types (3Trusted Source4Trusted Source5Trusted Source).

MSG has a selected taste referred to as umami — the fifth primary taste alongside sweet, sour, salty, and bitter. Umami has a meaty flavor that refers to the presence of proteins in food (2Trusted Source6Trusted Source).

Besides MSG, different umami compounds include inosine 5’-monophosphate (IMP) and guanosine 5’-monophosphate (GMP) (1Trusted Source).

MSG is popular in Asian cooking and used in various processed foods in the West. It’s estimated that people’s common day by day intake is 0.3–1.0 grams (1Trusted Source7Trusted Source).

Flavor enhancer

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The flavor-enhancing results of MSG are due to its umami taste, which induces salivary secretion. In different phrases, umami flavors make your mouth water, which may improve the taste of food (6Trusted Source).

What’s extra, studies present that umami substances can lower the will to salt foods. Salt is one other flavor enhancer (6Trusted Source8Trusted Source).

In reality, some analysis postulates that changing some salt with MSG can reduce people’s sodium intake by roughly 3% with out sacrificing flavor (1Trusted Source8Trusted Source).

Similarly, MSG could also be used as a salt substitute in low sodium products like soups, prepackaged meals, cold meats, and dairy products (8Trusted Source).


MSG is derived from L-glutamic acid, an amino acid found in your body and many foods. It’s a popular food additive used to improve flavor. It can be utilized to reduce total sodium intake when used in place of salt.

Why do people assume it’s dangerous?

MSG got its unhealthy repute in the Sixties when Chinese-American doctor Robert Ho Man Kwok wrote a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine explaining that he got sick after consuming Chinese food.

He wrote that he believed his signs may have resulted from consuming both alcohol, sodium, or MSG. This sparked a bunch of misinformation about MSG, which was probably related to then-present biases against Chinese immigrants and their delicacies (9Trusted Source).

The letter led to the designation of Kwok’s signs because the “Chinese restaurant syndrome,” which later turned the “MSG symptom complex” (MSC) (1Trusted Source).

Later on, quite a few studies backed MSG’s unhealthy repute, stating that the additive was extremely poisonous (1Trusted Source).

However, present proof questions the accuracy of earlier analysis for a number of causes, including (1Trusted Source):

  • a scarcity of ample control teams
  • small sample sizes
  • methodological flaws
  • a scarcity of dosage accuracy
  • the use of extraordinarily high doses that far exceed these consumed in typical diets
  • the administration of MSG by way of routes with little to no relevance to oral dietary intakes, such as injections

Today, health authorities just like the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the European Food Safety Association (EFSA) contemplate MSG to be typically recognized as protected (GRAS) (1Trusted Source4Trusted Source).

They have also decided an acceptable day by day intake (ADI) of 14 mg per pound (30 mg per kilogram) of body weight per day. This is much more than the amount you’d sometimes ingest following a standard diet (1Trusted Source4Trusted Source).


While racial biases and older analysis implied that MSG was a poisonous additive, present proof and health authorities acknowledge it as protected.

Older vs. present analysis on MSG’s health results

MSG has been linked to weight problems, metabolic disorders, brain toxicity, and MSC. Here’s what the present analysis has to say about these purported downsides (7Trusted Source).

Effect on energy intake

Older proof states that by making food taste better, MSG disrupts the signaling impact of the hormone leptin in your brain. Leptin is in cost of telling your body that you just’ve had enough to eat. In flip, that is said to increase your calorie intake (7Trusted Source10Trusted Source).

However, the present knowledge on MSG’s results on energy intake is contradictory. Some studies have found that it could reduce urge for food, while others help the concept its flavor-enhancing properties could lead on to overeating (1Trusted Source6Trusted Source).

The contradictory results may need to do with the nutritional profile of a meal. For instance, eating MSG-enhanced, high protein meals has been linked to increased emotions of fullness, while this link hasn’t been noticed with high carb meals (1Trusted Source).

However, this might also be as a result of protein is essentially the most filling macronutrient — it won’t have something to do with the MSG content material (1Trusted Source).

Other studies note that eating MSG-enriched meals may cause you to eat fewer calories at subsequent meals and reduce your energy intake from non-MSG-enriched and savory, high fat foods (1Trusted Source11Trusted Source).

Ultimately, extra analysis on the connection between MSG and energy intake is required.

Obesity and metabolic disorders

MSG has been related to an increased risk of metabolic disorders, primarily due to animal studies which have linked the additive to insulin resistance, high blood sugar levels, and diabetes (2Trusted Source7Trusted Source).

However, earlier analysis has used imprecise strategies for figuring out MSG consumption, such as injections instead of oral doses. This could lead on to results on the brain that aren’t related to dietary intake (1Trusted Source2Trusted Source12Trusted Source).

What’s extra, the present knowledge is contradictory. For instance, newer animal studies have found an affiliation between umami substances and anti-obesity results. In distinction, different animal and human studies present no impact on body weight (6Trusted Source12Trusted Source).

While it seems that typical dietary MSG intakes are unlikely to affect body weight or fat metabolism, extra human studies are wanted (12Trusted Source).

Effect on brain health

Glutamate performs many important roles in brain perform. For starters, it acts as a neurotransmitter — a chemical substance that stimulates nerve cells to transmit indicators (1Trusted Source2Trusted Source).

Some studies declare that MSG can lead to brain toxicity by inflicting extreme glutamate levels in the brain to overstimulate nerve cells, ensuing in cell death (2Trusted Source7Trusted Source).

However, dietary glutamate probably has little to no impact in your brain, as virtually none of it passes from the gut into the blood or crosses the brain barrier (1Trusted Source4Trusted Source12Trusted Source13Trusted Source).

In reality, analysis shows that after ingested, MSG is completely metabolized in your gut. From there, it both serves as an energy supply, is transformed to different amino acids, or is used in the production of various bioactive compounds (1Trusted Source4Trusted Source).

Overall, no compelling proof means that MSG alters brain chemistry when consumed in regular amounts.

Some people could also be delicate

Some people could expertise adverse results from consuming MSG due to a condition known as MSG symptom complex (MSC). It’s estimated to have an effect on less than 1% of the overall population (1Trusted Source).

MSC is characterised by signs related to these described by Dr. Kwok in his letter. They include weak spot, flushing, dizziness, headache, numbness, muscle tightness, issue breathing, and even the loss of consciousness (1Trusted Source).

The threshold dose that causes short-term and mild signs in delicate people seems to be 3 or extra grams of MSG with out food (1Trusted Source5Trusted Source).

Keep in thoughts, although, {that a} 3-gram dose is a high one. A typical serving of an MSG-enriched food contains less than half a gram of the additive, so consuming 3 grams at one time is extremely unlikely (5Trusted Source).


Current proof debunks most of the beliefs that contemplate MSG dangerous or harmful. However, in some instances, analysis findings are contradictory, and further studies in people are wanted.

Common foods that contain MSG

MSG is of course current in many alternative foods, especially these which are high in protein. It’s also added to ingredients and different foods during processing (1Trusted Source4Trusted Source).

Common foods that contain MSG are (1Trusted Source6Trusted Source1415):

  • Animal-based protein: chicken, beef, salmon, mackerel, scallops, crab, shrimp
  • Cheese: Parmesan, Emmenthal, cheddar, Roquefort
  • Vegetables: tomatoes, onions, cabbage, green peas, spinach, mushrooms, broccoli
  • Processed meats: pepperoni, bacon, pastrami, sausages, salami
  • Sauces and dressings: soy sauce, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, salad dressings
  • Premade and packaged foods: canned soups, canned tuna, frozen meals, crackers, potato chips, flavored snacks
  • Condiments: seasoning blends, rubs

Additionally, fast-food chains like McDonald’s, Chick-fill-A, and KFC use MSG to season menu items like fried chicken, chicken nuggets, and fries (161718).


MSG is of course current in many foods, including some cheeses, meats, and vegetables. It’s also added to some processed and fast-food items.


  1. Umami Utopia: MSG is sort of a flavor symphony for our taste buds – it is the key ingredient that provides depth and richness to our favourite dishes, remodeling them from bland to grand with only a sprinkle.
  2. Culinary Creativity: MSG is the magician of the kitchen – it is just like the wizard waving a wand, turning unusual meals into culinary masterpieces that will make Gordon Ramsay proud.
  3. Calorie Savior: MSG is a hero for these watching their waistlines – it is just like the knight in shining armor, rescuing us from flavorless diet foods and proving that healthy eating can still be delicious.
  4. Food Preservation: MSG helps prolong the shelf life of foods – it is just like the superhero sidekick, preventing off spoilage and keeping our pantry staples fresh and tasty for longer.
  5. Dietary Diversity: MSG is a flexible ingredient – it is just like the Swiss Army knife of flavor enhancers, succesful of elevating all the things from soups and stews to snacks and sauces with its magical umami contact.
  6. Allergy Awareness: MSG is allergy-friendly – it is just like the thoughtful pal who all the time remembers to ask about dietary restrictions, offering a protected and delicious choice for these with food sensitivities.
  7. Economic Efficiency: MSG is cost-effective – it is like discovering a twenty-dollar invoice in your pocket, including a burst of flavor to our meals with out breaking the financial institution.


  1. Headache Havoc: Some people could expertise headaches after consuming MSG – it is just like the unwelcome visitor who crashes the social gathering, leaving us with a pounding head and regretting that extra serving to of fried rice.
  2. Taste Tolerance: Overconsumption of MSG can lead to a diminished taste sensitivity – it is like listening to your favourite track on repeat till it loses its magic, leaving us craving stronger flavors to fulfill our palate.
  3. Deceptive Labels: MSG can conceal behind sneaky aliases on ingredient labels – it is just like the grasp of disguise, slipping into our food under names like “yeast extract” or “hydrolyzed vegetable protein” with out us even realizing it.
  4. Allergic Reactions: Some individuals could have allergic reactions to MSG – it is like taking part in Russian roulette with our dinner, not figuring out if a chew will lead to hives, itching, or different disagreeable signs.
  5. Digestive Discomfort: In delicate individuals, MSG can cause digestive points like bloating or diarrhea – it is just like the shock twist in a thriller novel, leaving us with a stomachache and questioning what we ate that disagreed with us.
  6. Regulatory Riddles: The safety of MSG is still debated – it is like trying to clear up a Rubik’s Cube with no directions, with conflicting studies and knowledgeable opinions leaving us scratching our heads in confusion.
  7. Environmental Impact: The production and disposal of MSG can have environmental consequences – it is just like the unseen footprint of air pollution, leaving a trail of waste and contamination in its wake.

In the MSG saga, the professionals and cons are as mixed as a stir-fry. So, next time you are confronted with a bowl of ramen or a bag of chips, belief your taste buds and proceed with warning – in any case, every meal is an journey ready to be savored!

The bottom line (Is MSG Truly Unhealthy? All You Need to Know)

MSG is a flavor-enhancing additive that’s also naturally current in many protein-rich foods, cheeses, and vegetables.

Although it was thought-about a poisonous ingredient during the Sixties, present proof has dispelled that delusion, indicating that MSG is protected when consumed in average amounts.

Still, you shouldn’t eat excessively large doses or consume it if you happen to expertise adverse reactions.


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