Creepy Food Ingredient – MSG!

By   |   June 7, 2011   |   Fitness

The DivaGals are doing our best to be as healthy as possible, but unfortunately, the food industry isnΓÇÖt always on our side.

There are two potentially harmful substances that are being added to food that could be causing a range of nasty side effects: MSG and GMOs. In this two-part series Nutrition Gal gives you the lowdown on what is most likely in many of the common foods you eat and how to avoid them. Because it’s all about what’s creeping up in your foodΓǪ without you even knowing it!

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

What It Is: Monosodium glutamate, also known as MSG, is a flavor enhancer added to foods. Though it is commonly known to be in Chinese food, it is also often found in canned foods such as vegetables, soups and stocks, frozen or dried foods, snack foods (such as chips and jerky) and condiments and seasonings.

Why It’s Bad For You: Though it’s “generally recognized as safe”(GRAS) by the FDA, there have been many reports of adverse reactions to this particular ingredient, so much so that it has been named the ΓÇ£MSG Symptom Complex.ΓÇ¥ These symptoms are wide-ranging and can include headaches, nausea, chest pain, weakness, sweating, facial pressure or numbness and heart palpitations. It is also thought that MSG may be associated with migraine headaches, obesity, asthma and hyperactivity in children. Another concern with MSG is the fact that an excessive amount of glutamate (which is an endogenous excitatory neurotransmitter) could potentially cause excitotoxicity-damage leading to the death of nerve cells.

How To Avoid It: Know the code names! When buying something packaged, be sure to check not only for MSG, but also for all of the other names that MSG is hidden behind. Here is a list of major key words to look for:

  • Glutamic acid
  • Glutamate
  • monopotassium glutamate
  • Yeast extract
  • autolyzed yeast
  • yeast food
  • yeast nutrient
  • Hydrolyzed protein
  • hydrolyzed vegetable protein (or animal or plant protein)
  • soy protein isolate
  • soy protein concentrate
  • whey protein
  • whey protein concentrate
  • whey protein isolate
  • autolyzed plant protein
  • hydrolyzed oat flour
  • textured protein
  • Caseinate: sodium caseinate
  • calcium caseinate
  • malt extract
  • Natural flavor(s): natural flavoring(s), natural beef flavor, natural chicken flavor, malt flavoring, chicken flavoring, seasoning, spices

Check in Thursday for Part II on GMOs!

photo cedit: Suat Eman/


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