MSG (monosodium glutamate) is a common ingredient in Chinese and processed foods, with several brands claiming to be free of it. It’s frequently used to improve flavour. Healthline explains that MSG is created from fermenting carb sources such as sugar beet, sugar cane, and molasses, and comes in a white crystalline form that is easily dissolved in water. While myths about MSG state that it is harmful to one’s health, research reveals that the ingredient’s negative rep is unwarranted.
The misconception that MSG is a hazardous ingredient is mostly due to previous research and racial biases towards Chinese or any Asian cuisine. Even though there is no current evidence that suggests negative effects from the chemical, unless there is an underlying health risk, Indo-Chinese or Chindian food is commonly sold as having no-MSG labelling in India. It must be noted that MSG is naturally present in many foods, meats, and vegetables.
Deeksha Ahlawat, a nutritionist and professional dietician, tells Indian Express that although safe, the substance should be used in moderation and not on a daily basis. The dietician recommends limiting MSG consumption to 0.55 grams per day, and not exceeding that amount. Pregnant women, children, cardiac patients, and renal patients, on the other hand, should avoid it. “Consuming MSG may promote weight gain and increase hunger, food intake, a group of symptoms that raises your risk of chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes.”
According to the FDA, as reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the chemical has been used to flavour dishes for over 100 years with no problems until 1968, when a doctor wrote to the New England Journal of Medicine about heart palpitations and numbness in the neck, back, and arms after eating Chinese food. Off late, though, multiple studies have confirmed that the substance is safe, nutritious, and adds umami taste to recipes. MSG may even aid in the reduction of salt intake.
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