What is MSG?

What is MSG?

What is MSG in food?

MSG or Monosodium Glutamate is a sodium salt of glutamic acid, which is a nonessential amino acid. There are many food items that are high in MSG levels. The common purpose of MSG is to enhance the flavor of food. However, the functioning inside the brain and stomach is a bit crucial. There is a range of food sources in which MSG is naturally occurring.

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Some of them include – parmesan cheese, tomatoes, breast milk, seaweed, and soy sauce.

In the year 1908, MSG first came into existence through a Japanese professor named Kikunae Ikeda. He discovered the term when he extracted Glutamate from a seaweed broth, which is a rich source. After doing his research, he found out that the main component that brings out the savory flavor in the soup.

Since then, the production of MSG became commercial. But now, people no longer extract it from the seaweed. As per the IFICF, currently, people produce MSG from the natural fermentation method. It is the same process through which the production of beer, yogurt, and sourdough bread is made.

What is MSG used for?

In simple terms, MSG is a compound made out of sodium and Glutamate. The reason for adding MSG in food is that it imparts the umami flavor which is savory and meaty. As per the research, Glutamate is naturally occurring in many plants and animal proteins. Along with Glutamate, which is an amino acid that builds blocks of protein, MSG is higher in the percentage of sodium as well.

The daily limit intake of sodium is 1,500 milligrams as per the AHA (American Heart Association). Furthermore, it should not increase by more than 2,300 milligrams in a day. The reason why health experts recommend reducing your sodium intake is due to its relation to heart diseases. If you keep the sodium level to its minimum in your body, it will improve your blood pressure and the overall health of your heart.

Is it safe to eat foods with MSG?

The use of MSG has been in practice for centuries. It is essential for you to know if it’s safe to consume it or not as it augments to add flavors to food. There have been numerous kinds of research done to know if MSG content in food can make a person addicted. Apart from that, the adverse reactions of it are also considered by the health expert to know its reliability.

Now, as per the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), MSG is recognized as a safe means of adding flavors to food items. Furthermore, the experts say that it should be taken for the intended purpose and as per the guidelines provided earlier.

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Food with MSG

The most common occurrence of MSG is found in processed foods. Here is a list of such food items that are the prime sources of MSG as per the sources. They include –

  • Soy sauce, oyster sauce, and fish sauce


  • Soup, broth, and bouillon cubes


  • Packaged snack items, like – potato chips and crackers


  • Packed food for dinner

packed food

  • Salad dressing that is store-bought

salad dressing

  • Soy protein, miso, and tempeh

soya protein

  • Tomatoes and vegetable sauce

tomato sauce

  • Processed meat, fish, and ham


  • Protein from hydrolyzed vegetable

protein vegetable

  • Autolyzed and Hydrolyzed yeast

Hydrolyzed yeast

  • Soy extracts

Soya extracts

  • Yeast extracts


  • Protein isolate

Protein isolate

According to the guidelines of the FDA, it is a must for the manufacturers to list the percentage of MSG content in the food item on the packaging label. It is necessary so that you can easily identify the limit that you need in your body. Apart from listing MSG under monosodium glutamate, it can also be listed as –

  • Glutamic acid
  • Glutamate
  • Calcium glutamate
  • Magnesium glutamate
  • Disodium guanylate
  • Disodium inosinate
  • Magnesium glutamate

Although MSG is a direct source of sodium, it contains only one-third of table salt. On the other hand, taking too much sodium in food will increase the risk of high blood pressure. The content of MSG in food will enhance the flavor of food, so you need not add that extra amount of table salt to it.


MSG is known for its ability to enhance the savory umami flavor of foods and add depth and richness to dishes. It is commonly found in processed foods, condiments, and Asian cuisine. While some individuals may be sensitive to MSG and experience symptoms such as headaches or flushing, known as “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome,” these reactions are rare and typically mild. It should be noted that MSG is not inherently harmful or toxic.

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