MSG, monosodium glutamate is a flavor enhancing food additive. The usage of MSG in foods has always been a debatable topic due to the allergic reactions it supposedly causes. There has been not enough evidence, however, to prove that MSG is the sole culprit behind the possible allergies. The Clinical Nutrition Research in 2014, revealed a vague link between MSG consumption and chronic hives in a small subset of people.
The Food And Drug Administration (FDA) categorizes MSG under GRAS (generally recognized as safe) and restricts its usage within the permissible limits. The minor side effects include a headache, tingling sensation, runny nose, sweating, facial swelling, and heartburn. In rare cases, MSG also shows some severe side effects like heart palpitations, swelling of the throat, chest pain, and shortness of breath. But there are studies to prove the same.
The easiest solution is to avoid the foods containing MSG and stick to a diet containing raw fruits, vegetables, and organic meat. It is also necessary to know that MSG is present in not just processed or restaurant-made foods, but is also found in various naturally occurring fruits and vegetables. The below list would help you know which foods could possibly induce MSG sensitivity in you.
MSG Allergies: Foods To Avoid
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1. Highly Processed Foods
Highly processed foods like salty and flavorful snacks contain MSG. Some of the examples are potato chips, heavily seasoned fries, salty crackers, and flavored nuts. The presence of MSG in these foods is more prevalent than you think. Almost all readily available snacks have it as a flavor enhancer to make them more palatable.
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2. Packaged Foods
With the rising trends of go-to foods which compensate the need to cook in a busy lifestyle, packaged foods are gaining a lot of importance. Foods like frozen dinners, ranch dressings, gravies, cold cuts, flavored mixes, canned beans, and ready-to-eat noodles contain MSG to retain their flavors for a long time. Therefore, the foods smell appetizing and are the easy and tasty options for everyone. Fermented packaged food like soy sauce also contains MSG.
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3. Fast Food And Restaurant Food
Be it burgers, fried chicken, chicken nuggets, or the heavily seasoned french fries, each one of these is loaded with MSG. The presence of MSG in these food items increases their flavors, which would otherwise taste bland. Most of the restaurants also add this taste enhancer to their foods. Chinese restaurants, however, have been victimized for the consistent usage of MSG in their food items. The fact is, not just Chinese dine-outs, but all of the restaurants use this additive.
If you are sensitive to MSG, it is best to ask the server to not add it in your meal.
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4. Soups And Broths
Chicken broth contains free glutamate even if MSG is not added to it. Bouillon cubes made from beef or chicken, beef broth, instant soup mixes, inorganic vegetable soup, and broth-based soups contain MSG in them. They could be present either as naturally occurring free glutamates or as added MSG.
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5. Few Natural Food Sources
Various naturally available fruits, vegetables, and high protein sources like meat, poultry, and cheese contain free glutamates. These could induce sensitivity in you if you are allergic to MSG. Some of these foods include tomatoes, tomato juice, peas, wheat gluten, broccoli, mushrooms, potatoes, soy, grapes, and grape juice. Not all cheeses contain free glutamates and only Parmesan and Rocquefort cheeses have them.
It is important to check the labels of the packaged foods when you are buying them, as the presence of MSG may be indicated with various other terms mentioned below.
Labels That Indicate The Presence Of MSG
- Hydrolyzed protein
- Autolyzed yeast
- Glutamic acid
- Yeast extract
- Soy extract
- Hydrolyzed yeast extract
- Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
- Dried beef
- Chicken stock
- Pork extract
- Hydrolyzed wheat protein
- Sodium caseinate
Since studies still do not indicate the possible long-term health hazards (if any) that MSG could cause, it would be wise to watch your intake even if you do not have any allergic reactions. Switching to home-cooked, healthy, and organic diet ensures overall good health.