Reasons to Avoid MSG | openeyehealth

Reasons to Avoid MSG

by Michelle on March 1, 2011

MSG (monosodium glutamate) is bad news and there’s no two ways around it. MSG is a known neurotoxin and is used as a flavor enhancer (seemingly unnecessary, right?) often found in soups, sauces/dressings, processed snack foods, and processed meat products. A couple of weeks ago I actually saw MSG for sale in the spice aisle of my local grocery store for about $1.50. I was appalled.

I kept thinking, do people really add this to their home cooking? I know that Chinese food (the American takeout kind, anyway) is normally pretty loaded with this stuff, but it was beyond belief that this could be used in home cooking on a regular basis. And then, wouldn’t you believe, I was looking through one of my mom’s old cookbooks/Oster blender manual from the early ’80s and there it was- 1 tsp MSG called for in guacamole dip. And then again for 2 tsp in an oriental seasoning sauce. While I’ve seen it listed on products at the store, I had never seen it in recipes before!

Despite seeing it in the cookbook, my guess is that it is not added so much to home recipes (at least anymore),¬†but is consumed most widely in the many processed foods of the SAD (Standard American Diet). The worst part is that MSG isn’t always clearly labeled and can be hidden in descriptions such as natural flavor, hydrolyzed protein, and many others.

MSG is absorbed quickly into our bodies and large amounts cause excitotoxicity (this occurs when nerve cells are overstimulated and then permanently damaged or killed). Unfortunately, only some people feel correlations such as headaches when consuming MSG, telling them to avoid it, but all of us still experience the impact of MSG.

Natural News actually cites animal studies, stating “MSG creates a lesion in the hypothalamus that correlates with abnormal development, including obesity, short stature and sexual¬†reproduction problems.” If that’s not enough to make someone want to avoid it, I don’t know what is. Even if, for whatever reason, you disagree with the dangers of MSG, is the potential for such damage really worth a little extra flavor in your food?

My personal belief is that MSG is a real hidden danger so it is important to analyze food labels carefully and to buy food that is “real” or unprocessed and as close to it’s natural state as possible. If you can make soup, broths, dressings, and your own homemade snacks you will have much better chances of avoiding MSG.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

emili March 7, 2011 at 6:56 pm

I looked up a copy-cat recipe of Panera’s Turkey Chickpea Chili (because it’s amazing, and I wanted to make some!) and the recipe called for MSG! GROSS. Totally left that out. Before this article and that recipe, I had no idea one could buy MSG at the store… nuts.

Michelle March 7, 2011 at 10:31 pm

Emili, that just blows my mind! I couldn’t believe it either when I saw it at the store. Did the chili still turn out good without it? It seems like such an unnecessarily dangerous ingredient!

emili March 8, 2011 at 1:38 pm

It did turn out just as wonderful, maybe even more so because I knew it didn’t have that crap in it.

Next to MSG, the recipe read – optional, for meatier taste. It was just as “meaty” and delicious without!

Sunny December 20, 2011 at 3:36 pm

MSG is almost impossible to avoid. If you enjoy fast-foods once in awhile, you’ve had MSG. If you drink milk, eat cheese, meat, tomatoes, mayo, potato chips… any type of savoury foods, than you’ve had MSG in some way or form. In fact, your body naturally produces similar compounds found in MSG for proper brain and body function. Most people don’t realize this fact.

I completely agree that people who are sensitive to MSG should avoid ingesting foods with “added” large concentration of artificial MSG ie. fast foods. Similarly, people who are allergic to peanuts should avoid foods with nuts. I think it all comes down to personal habits and consumer awareness. No way am I going to stop eating peanuts and flavorful foods just because some people are allergic to it, I think you would agree.

Son December 8, 2012 at 9:29 am

My mom is Vietnamese. She used to buy MSG by the pound at the asian market. It was used on everything in lieu of salt. As a family of 5, we probably used about a pound every few months. It was used in soups, marinades, to finish off dishes. It sat in a shaker on the table next to the black pepper, white pepper, salt and siracha sauce. People’s bodies react differently to it and I believe it’s harmless in moderation. My whole family is still very fit, no one is close to being overweight, we’re all underweight if anything and my mom still uses MSG in most of her cooking. Even my MSG sensitive friends who come over for dinner that claim they flush and get sick minutes after eating Chinese food don’t react.

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