I was having lunch with a friend last week and she told me she was avoiding MSG. When I asked her why, she mentioned that she had read about it on the Internet. That was a big red flag. Obviously, not all information on the web is accurate or science-based. I’m always trying to stay current with the latest science on food and nutrition topics, so I went home and looked for info on MSG from credible sources, like the FDA. That’s when I learned some surprising, and sometimes overlooked, facts about MSG.
1. THE “G” IN “MSG” IS RESPONSIBLE FOR UMAMI.
Somewhat akin to the “sixth sense”, there is a “fifth taste” you may not even know you had: umami. In addition to sweet, sour, salty and bitter, this fifth basic taste is described as savory. Even if you have heard of umami, I wonder if you were aware that the taste is attributed to foods containing glutamate, an amino acid in food. Glutamate is found naturally in many foods such as tomatoes, walnuts, mushrooms and meat. It’s also present in many food ingredients such as soy sauce and MSG (monosodium glutamate).
2. MSG IS NATURALLY OCCURRING.
Besides being added to foods, MSG also occurs in nature. Tomatoes and cheeses contain naturally occurring MSG. With all that glutamate, it’s no wonder that classic grilled-cheese/tomato-soup combo is so savory. The MSG that is added to foods is produced by a natural fermentation process, similar to the processes used to make yogurt or vinegar. MSG (monosodium glutamate) has only two components: sodium (a mineral) and glutamate (an amino acid).
How does MSG stack up in the sodium department? What does research show about the safety of MSG? For the answers to these questions and more information, including a brand new fact sheet on MSG, check out the full article I wrote for the FACTS Network.
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