Is MSG Really Bad For You?

Learn more about this stuff that makes food tasty.

Are you wary of MSG in food? Many food companies boast the fact that their products are MSG free but is the demonization of this ingredient really deserved? Here’s a look into what MSG is, how it got its bad reputation, and what research really says about its nutritional impact.


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What Is MSG Anyway?

MSG stands for monosodium glutamate, a compound made from sodium (salt) and glutamate. Glutamate is an amino acid that’s found naturally in foods like Parmesan cheese, tomatoes, mushroom, cured meats, soy sauce, and even breast milk. When sodium and glutamate are combined, they create an umami flavour, that savory, meatiness in foods like warm broth and seared animal protein.

Many foods that you probably love naturally combine sodium and glutamate, like pizza, ramen, and mushroom sauces-hence, why they’re so good.

MSG seasoning is made from seaweed or fermented sugar extract, which is combined with sodium to create tiny white crystal-like flakes. You may see the MSG shaker next to the salt shaker on tables at a few restaurants as some chefs have started to embrace its delicious flavour. Food companies like to add MSG to prepared foods, as it makes the food taste like it was made yesterday, despite being made a year ago.

Interestingly, the human body digests added MSG the same way as natural MSG in food, and cannot distinguish between the two. So why has the perception of MSG been so hateful for so many years?

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