MSG Should Not Be an Option in Seasoning Your Food


MSG Molecular Model

Whether monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a good thing or a bad thing depends on who you ask. To food manufacturers, it's a great way to heighten the flavors of foods and encourage people to eat more. To those who have experienced Chinese Restaurant Syndrome (CRS) it's a source of unpleasant symptoms like headaches. To a few people, it's a neurotoxin that is dangerous to the brain.

Research on MSG has showed conflicting findings. Some research, especially older studies in mice, indicates this chemical is toxic to brain cells. However, that research used very high doses and the chemical was injected into the mice rather than being eaten. Other studies have shown some effects on insulin, the hormone that regulates your blood sugar, and there are questions about whether MSG increases your appetite and causes you to eat more. Depending on the study population, the answer to that last question might be yes or no.

If you are one of the small percentage of the population who is actually sensitive to the effects of MSG — for example, you develop a headache within an hour or two after eating at a Chinese restaurant — you'll want to avoid the chemical itself. From the perspective of healthy eating, however, the real issue with MSG may be the foods it's in rather than the chemical itself. MSG is typically added to processed foods. The package ingredients list may not mention MSG at all; it may say something like “natural flavors” or “flavor enhancers.”These include snacks, prepared foods with sauces, and foods that are high in fats and sugars. None of these foods are a good choice for someone who wants to lose weight and eat a healthy, whole foods diet.

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