Monosodium glutamate, or MSG, has been a hot topic in the nutrition world for decades now. It seems like every few years, conflicting evidence emerges, and many people are left confused as to whether or not this food additive is dangerous.
In today's article, we'll explore the topic of MSG, so you can know whether to avoid this controversial food additive, or if it is okay to eat.
What is MSG?
MSG is short for "Monosodium glutamate." It's an additive that is present in many foods to enhance flavor. One of the misconceptions about MSG is that it is a chemical that does not occur in nature. On the contrary, many foods contain natural levels of MSG, including tomatoes, grapes, cheese, mushrooms, and more. However, in its natural form, MSG is a part of glutamic acid, an amino acid that occurs naturally in the foods listed above.
MSG was first extracted on its own in 1908 by a Japanese biochemist, who was trying to isolate the taste of a specific seaweed used in many traditional Japanese soups. He wound up developing one of the most popular food additives, and he called it "Monosodium glutamate." Since its discovery, MSG has found a home in kitchens worldwide, where it is used to help balance the flavor of savory foods and improve the "mouthfeel" of various dishes.
But is it safe?
In the 1980s and '90s, MSG became colloquially associated with negative health effects, including headaches and physical discomfort. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found no evidence that MSG is dangerous for human consumption, and they have labeled it "Generally Regarded as Safe."
Because double-blind scientific studies show no evidence for the purported negative effects of MSG, theories abound as to why people associate this food additive with various health problems. One theory is that because MSG came from a foreign country, originally Americans were unfamiliar with it, and it developed a stigma based on a lack of understanding.
Whatever the reason, scientific evidence makes it clear that MSG is perfectly safe for humans to consume. Of course, individual food allergies may restrict certain people from eating MSG, but for the general public it is not harmful.
So, now you know a bit more about MSG, and hopefully some of the mystery has been removed. If you're worried about the potential negative effects of MSG, you can rest assured that it is safe for your body. Of course, it's still important to maintain a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables, and keep the processed food to a minimum whenever possible.