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Most of us have heard that MSG (Monosodium Glutamate), a concentrated salt often added to foods for flavor enhancement, is an ingredient we should avoid. But do you know what MSG is? I remember hearing as a kid that it’s what was used at Chinese buffets, but I never knew anything more than that.
While our bodies do produce a salt version of glutamic acid, which is a non-essential amino acid, the MSG found on store shelves is not only highly processed, but it comes from fermented sugar beets (it was previously made from wheat gluten). Remember when we talked about how most sugar beets are genetically modified (GMO)?
So right off the bat, we’re talking about a highly processed, GMO food additive. But the health concerns don’t stop there. Migraine headaches are probably the most widely known reaction, but MSG has been known to cause an abundance of other adverse reactions such as skin rashes, hives, itching, nausea, vomiting, heart irregularities, asthma, depression, seizures and obesity.
Highly processed GMO food additive + known adverse reactions = AVOID!
Tips for Reading the Label
Avoiding MSG isn’t as easy as it sounds. You think you’d easily be able to spot MSG or Monosodium Glutamate in an ingredient list and it’s in foods you wouldn’t expect (like dry-roasted peanuts). However, since so many people are aware that MSG is a harmful ingredient, the food product industry has gotten clever. MSG is hiding in many otherwise safe-sounding ingredients.
Don’t be fooled – these ingredients are actually MSG or often contain MSG:
- Autolyzed yeast
- Calcium caseinate
- Calcium glutamate
- Glutamic acid or Glutamate
- Hydrolyzed protein
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
- Hydrolyzed yeast
- Magnesium glutamate
- Monosodium glutamate
- Monopotassium glutamate
- Monoammonium glutamate
- Natrium glutamate
- Protein isolate
- Sodium caseinate
- Soy protein, soy protein concentrate
- Soy protein isolate
- Textured protein
- Yeast extract
- Yeast extract, food or nutrient
- Whey protein, whey protein concentrate
- Whey protein isolate
And according to Truth in Labeling, these ingredients often contain MSG:
- Barley malt
- Bouillon and broth
- Citric acid, Citrate
- “Enzyme modified” or containing “enzymes”
- “Flavors” or “flavoring”
- Malt extract
- Soy sauce and soy sauce extract
- Ultra-pasteurized foods
It’s scary how many ingredients may contain MSG, without the need to disclose it!
Check Your Cabinets
Now that you know the various names that MSG can be hiding under, I challenge you to go look in your pantry and inspect the foods you have on hand. How many of them likely contain MSG? Will you read labels more carefully next time you shop?