Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Tuesday Tips: Hidden Sources of MSG


We know MSG (monosodium glutamate) as a chemical additive used to add flavor to processed and packaged foods. It helps make cheap, less nutritious food taste good- really good! In fact, studies have shown that it also stimulates the appetite, causing us to eat even more unhealthy food. Many of us try to avoid it because it gives us headaches. Others experience bloating and other adverse or allergic reactions and symptoms.

MSG Should Be Easy to Avoid- Just Read the Label, Right?

I thought I was doing the right thing for my family by trying not to buy foods with MSG, since my husband gets headaches and I think it sometimes makes me feel a bit lethargic. And, of course, we should all be looking at reducing the amount of chemicals we ingest. I'm not fanatical about things like this, but I've done my best to choose foods without MSG on the ingredients list. Well, guess what? I learned that even foods with "No MSG" printed on the label can contain MSG derivatives or related chemicals.

MSG by Any Other Name...

Two of the most natural- and innocent-sounding relatives of MSG are yeast extract and plant protein extract. We're all taught to look for ingredients we can pronounce and identify. While I don't know exactly what these compounds are, I do know what the individual words mean: yeast, extract, plant and protein, so I thought those ingredients were OK.  I was always, however, a bit suspicious of some bouillon cubes and powders which proudly denounced MSG, but contained autolyzed yeast or hydrolyzed vegetable protein. Neither autolyzed nor hydrolyzed is in my vocabulary, so I was curious. I looked them up, and found long lists of MSG aliases:

If this post about hidden MSG surprises you, or makes you wonder what's in your packaged and processed foods, try googling mechanically separated chicken!

1 comment:

Thanks so much for reading! Your thoughts are important to me because I am writing for you.