Additive Awareness: Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Had a bite of my co-worker’s take-out Lo Mein at lunch today. It was delicious. It also got me thinking about the additives, particularly Monosodium Glutamate (aka MSG), that are often added to take-out dishes. What’s so harmful about MSG? Read on…

Short-term side effects of MSG can include:

  • migraines
  • headaches
  • increased insulin production
  • hyperactivity
  • nausea
  • heart palpitations
  • chest pain or difficulty breathing
  • sweating
  • facial pressure, tingling, or weakness
  • rapid heart rate
  • drowsiness

Long-term effects of regular consumption may include:

  • obesity
  • persistent headaches
  • fatigue and disorientation
  • depression

Even more scary are the links between MSG and the following:

  • Autism
  • Attention deficit disorder
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease

MSG is added to foods to increase or improve their flavor. The following are common foods in which MSG can be found:

  • packaged foods (such as crackers and chips)
  • canned foods (such as soups and stocks)
  • meats (such as sausages and packaged deli luncheon meats)
  • restaurant, take-out and fast food (especially Asian dishes!)
  • sauces (such as BBQ and soy sauce)
  • salad dressings (especially creamy versions)
  • seasonings

MSG is sneaky. Why? It can be labeled as any of the following on food packaging:

  • hydrolyzed protein
  • sodium caseinate
  • calcium caseinate
  • autolyzed yeast
  • yeast extract
  • glutamic acid
  • autolyzed yeast
  • gelatin glutamate
  • glutamic acid
  • monopotassium glutamate
  • textured protein
  • yeast food
  • yeast nutrient

MSG is very common in restaurant food items (particularly Asian dishes and fast food!). Next time you’re out to eat, don’t be afraid to ask which dishes are made with MSG. Your  body, mind, and health will thank you later!



  1. […] MSG (Planters Smoked Almonds contain hydrolyzed protein, another name for MSG). Check out the Additive Awareness MSG post for more on other names for […]

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