MSG the step-child of food seasonings?

MSG still remains a debatable topic. Searching opinions and looking at facts versus myths about this food enhancer, hardly brings anyone closer to making an opinionated decision. The yay or nay remains open for discussion.

                What is MSG?

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is seasoning that combines sodium (like that in table salt) with glutamate. Glutamate is also naturally present in foods such as tomatoes, aged cheeses, mushrooms and even breast milk. MSG separates into sodium and glutamate when it is exposed to water in foods and saliva in the mouth, which is why the body cannot distinguish between the glutamate naturally present in foods (such as Parmesan cheese) and added MSG.

                MSG’s reputation

MSG has been used as a food additive for many years. During this time the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has received many reports concerning reactions that people have attributed to foods that had MSG in them. These reactions, like headache, flushing, sweating, nausea and weakness to name a few, are called the ‘MSG symptom complex’.

Researchers have not found clear proof of a link between MSG and these symptoms. Researchers admit, though, that a small number of people may have short-term reactions to MSG. Symptoms are often mild and don’t need to be treated. The only way to prevent a reaction is to not eat foods that have MSG in them.

The International Headache Society removed MSG from its list of causative factors for headaches in January 2018. MSG is generally recognized as safe, but it is required that food containing MSG should be labelled as such.

                Making the choice

There is really no clear answer about MSG. For every report marking MSG as safe there is another contradicting it. The choice of allowing MSG into one’s diet or not, or allowing your children to consume MSG should be one every individual has to make one his/her own.

Sources: Mayo Clinic / HIS – International Headache Society / FDA – USA Food and Drug Administration

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