Precautions And Benefits Of Using Monosodium Glutamate

Precautions And Benefits of Using Monosodium Glutamate

“It’s a family secret” “Personal recipe” “A secret touch” … How many times have we heard these phrases after asking about how to prepare a certain dish? The truth is that many people like to have a card up their sleeve to surprise their loved ones with a special meal and, of course, as it is designed for this purpose, they do not usually share their kitchen tricks and secrets with others. For this reason, it is very common to eat certain preparations without being aware of what ingredients were used, much less their quantities. However, this is more common than you might imagine. Every day we eat things whose origin we do not know, such as processed foods. They are usually full of additives and preservatives of all kinds.

Precautions And Benefits Of Using Monosodium Glutamate

Few people stop to read the ingredients of processed foods before consuming them. But, if you ever do, you’ll notice that a recurring ingredient is monosodium glutamate. Since we are not chemists nor do we have much knowledge related to matter, we just limit ourselves to eating it and that’s it. However, have you ever wondered what monosodium glutamate is? Is it important to know? What repercussions can it have on our health? For what do you use it? What precautions should we take when consuming it? During this article we will be giving answers to these and other questions. Therefore, if you want to know more about the composition of the food you eat, you cannot stop reading it. Remember that it is an issue where your health and that of your family members is involved. Therefore, you must give it the necessary importance. Let’s see what monosodium glutamate is and how to use it.


Monosodium glutamate is also known as ajinomoto or MSG for short. It is a flavor-enhancing additive that is very often added to Chinese foods, canned vegetables, soups, and meats that have been processed. It is composed of glutamate, which is an amino acid, and sodium, which is used to emphasize and enhance the flavor of food. In this way, a different touch is obtained and makes the meals more attractive to the palate. In other words, this additive makes us eat more. It had its origin at the hands of a Japanese professor who was working on the physiological mechanisms that are related to perception. He knew that there was a common flavor in asparagus, tomato, cheese and milk. However, it was not possible to describe it using the traditional classification parameters, such as sweet, salty, bitter, sour and sour. By investigating the fact, he was able to isolate this flavor, which was nothing other than glutamic acid. In order to stabilize it, he mixed it with water and sodium, obtaining monosodium glutamate as a final result, that is, a white crystal that could be dissolved in water and marketed. Currently, it is produced in large industrial quantities thanks to a fermentation process of sucrose, salt, vitamins and nitrogen sources, through the intervention of a bacterium. Its presentation is very similar to that of common salt and is frequently used in Asian cuisines. In the specific case of Spain, it is possible to buy it as a condiment. But, its presence in kitchens is not common. The way it works is through the stimulation of saliva. In fact, it is believed to enhance the flavor of foods by acting on specific glutamate receptors on the tongue. On the other hand, it is important to note that it is found in large amounts in many protein foods, but it only enhances the saltiness when it is not mixed with other amino acids. Now, does its consumption have any health benefits? Let’s see it right now.

Its benefits

Its use could bring some health benefits. For example, since it maintains the flavor of food and contains 61% less sodium than table salt, it helps reduce daily salt intake, which is very beneficial in the case of people suffering from arterial hypertension, many of whom maintain a dilemma about what they can eat and what not. On the other hand, it can be used to enhance the flavor of food for older adults who, due to their advanced age, have somewhat lost their sense of smell, as well as the action of their taste buds. It can also be very helpful in the case of people whose natural saliva production has been affected for one reason or another, making the chewing and swallowing process easier, as well as improving their appetite. For these and other reasons, the Food and Drug Administration has determined that monosodium glutamate is considered a “safe” food ingredient. However, its use is still very controversial today. For this reason, when it has been added to a food, it is always indicated on its descriptive label. This is not a new additive on the market. It has been administered to food for decades. However, during this time there have been many anecdotal reports of adverse reactions to foods containing them. In view of this, the need arises for you to know what are the side effects that it can cause if consumed in excess. Therefore, pay close attention to what we will tell you next.

What do you need

While it is true that many negative effects have been attributed to monosodium glutamate, some studies have found that its intake could:

Encourage greater food consumption. Since it is responsible for highlighting its natural flavor, it makes the person eat more. However, it is thought that it does not affect caloric intake in any way. Contributes to weight gain. Since it stimulates the consumption of food, it makes you lose the feeling of satiety and, consequently, very divided results are obtained. Some have gained weight, while others have not. Therefore, studies have been inconclusive due to lack of evidence. Causes headache and migraine. It generates hives, rhinitis and asthma. Increases blood pressure in hypertensive patients. Especially when combined with a high-sodium diet. It generates the Chinese restaurant syndrome. This is a disease that can arise in people with sensitivity to monosodium glutamate, generating a series of symptoms, such as nausea, sweating, hives, fatigue, headache, etc. It causes numbness, burning, or tingling in the face, neck, and other parts of the body. Accelerates heart palpitations. It causes chest pain and physical weakness, among other reactions.

Although it is true that studies have not provided definitive proof, scientists say that a small number of people may have some type of these reactions. These are usually mild symptoms that do not require the use of any medical treatment. Some experiments applied to rodents have determined that the ingestion of glutamate causes female sterility and neurological damage. However, these studies have not yet been applied to humans. However, the only proven way to prevent these reactions is to avoid consuming all those foods that have it. But, if you do not want to abstain completely, you can moderate your intake. It is indicated that an acceptable daily intake would be about 30 mg, for each kilo of body weight of each person, per day. Currently, its daily consumption is very high and could bring with it negative consequences. In view of this fact, it is useful to know what is the safest way to use MSG. Let’s see it.


In order to use it safely, the recommendation is to consume it in small amounts when making homemade preparations or other recipes. On the other hand, if you are going to use it, then do not add excess salt.

Food experts recommend that, in 100 g of some food, no more than 1.5 g of monosodium glutamate and only 0.75 of salt should be used, to be within acceptable limits and not fall into abuse. Also, it is recommended that you avoid frequent consumption of processed and ultra-processed foods, since they generally contain this additive. Such is the case of chicken or chicken bouillon cubes, canned soups, cookies, processed meats, frozen meals, ready-made salads, etc. Actually, it is more common than you think. If you want to avoid any of the negative effects mentioned in this article, be sure to read the label with the nutritional description of the food, before buying and consuming it. It should be noted that it can also appear under the name of yeast extract, vegetable protein or E621. Stay tuned and do not overlook this fact. If you want to lead a much healthier life, choose to increase your consumption of unprocessed foods, that is, those that are in their natural state and have not been altered in any way. An ideal example would be fresh fruits and vegetables. When it comes to protein, farm fresh eggs are unprocessed. Of course, if you want to consume them in this way, you must take the necessary precautions to avoid diseases such as salmonella, which is very common in this type of farm food. On the other hand, dry beans are another important source of protein and are also part of unprocessed foods. Regarding dairy products, the vast majority of them have been processed, except for raw milk. However, it can be contaminated with salmonella, E-coli, among others. If you are going to choose a sweetener, natural bee honey is sold unprocessed. But, because it is unpasteurized, it is not recommended that it be administered to children under one year of age, since the risk of suffering from botulism is very high. Therefore, it is best that you refrain from doing so. In other words, regardless of the fact that these foods are 100% natural, if you do not comply with the necessary basic hygienic measures, you could end up getting sick or causing some kind of harm to yourself, as well as to your family. Of course, keep in mind that there are foods that have been more processed than others, such as canned fruits or vegetables, which are processed to increase their shelf life. One way to identify highly processed foods is by looking at how long the list of ingredients is and the less familiar, the more processes will be involved in their preparation. Also, remember the recommendation to check the label of the products you consume. While it is true that monosodium glutamate can cause side effects, consuming it is far from fatal. You just have to be careful with the daily amounts you use.

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