4 easy facts about monosodium glutamate (MSG)

Monosodium Glutamate or MSG is an ingredient that is found in a wide range of foods so why does Chinese cuisine have a particularly bad reputation when it comes to this ingredient? The following tips clear up any myths you may have heard about MSG.

4 easy facts about monosodium glutamate (MSG)

1. MSG explained

In spite of numerous thorough studies, nobody has found a definite link between MSG and Chinese cuisine.

In the late 1960s, doctors finally gave a name to the headaches, nausea and malaise that some patients claimed to experience after dining on Chinese food. They called it ‘Chinese food syndrome’. However, most researchers put the blame on MSG, the flavour enhance made from the crystallized powder of glutamic acid, a naturally occurring amino acid. It has been added to foods for at least 60 years to enhance a meaty, "savoury" flavour.

2. False studies

Small and badly controlled studies in the late 1960s and 1970s did show a link between MSG and the so-called Chinese food syndrome. But from the 1980s onward, follow-up studies failed show any strong connection. More definitively, a recent analysis reviewed over 40 years' worth of clinical research and found that those studies failed to identify a consistent relationship between the consumption of MSG and the symptoms that are associated with the syndrome.

3. No connection to other conditions

The same study also found no evidence linking MSG to migraine headaches or asthma attacks. The reason that you may associate these uncomfortable conditions with MSG rather than ingredients like salt or sugar is its name. Tne study leader suggested that monosodium glutamate has a processed, artificial and scientific sound to it. This could trigger ungrounded prejudices against MSG and lead to you blaming it for an upset stomach or headache.

Significant proof that MSG doesn’t cause headaches is down to its appearance in other foods that don’t cause discomfort. Even if you don’t visit a Chinese restaurant, you possibly consume milk, broccoli, peas, grapefruit juice, walnuts, packaged sauces, soy sauce, condensed soup, and Roquefort or Parmesan cheese. These foods also contain large amounts of MSG but they don’t automatically cause minor health ailments.

4. The cause of discomfort

While some people may be sensitive or allergic to MSG, some post-meal discomfort could be down to other factors. Perhaps you have had too much salt or fat or maybe you even suffer form a placebo effect. If you believe that Chinese food might make you feel sick, it just might!

Simple MSG

While MSG may have an adverse effect on your feeling of wellbeing, it may be other ingredients that are causing you discomfort. In any case, the facts say don’t always point to Chinese food as the cause of that headache - so enjoy your chow mein with no worry!

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