MSG Facts vs. Fiction Explained in Recent News Reports

MSG glutamate umami facts.jpg

Science Friday, a nonprofit organization and trusted source for news about science, reports that there is no basis for claims that MSG may cause allergies. And a new study finds that umami flavor in the form of MSG promotes feelings of fullness, helping to satisfy appetite and potentially help with...

>> more

New Video and Infographic Explain Why MSG is Perfectly Safe


According to the American Chemical Society (ACS), monosodium glutamate (MSG) has suffered from inaccurate consumer perceptions for too long - so the non-profit organization has decided to put the consumer myths about MSG to rest. In a new video released in August 2014, ACS corrects the myths about ...

>> more

Glutamate Is Natural

Glutamate Is Natural

Glutamate is common throughout nature. It is a component of your body and your foods. The taste-imparting property of glutamate has long been used around the world to enhance the palatability of foods.

>> more

MSG Safe Use

MSG Safe Use

Over one hundred years ago, Professor Kikunae Ikeda of Tokyo Imperial University discovered the taste that is now recognized internationally as “umami.” It has been established for more than 10 years now that umami, which is the taste imparted by monosodium glutamate (MSG), stands alongside sweet, sour, salty and bitter as one of the five recognized basic tastes.

>> more

What is Monosodium glutamate (MSG)?
In which type of foods is MSG used?
How are glutamate and MSG similar?
Your Questions Answered.

Umami and Saltiness

umami and saltinessMany of us consume more salty or high fat foods than our bodies need. The taste of salt added to food and the richness of high fat dishes are undoubtedly appealing. Scientific research, however, has suggested a link between diets high in fat and sodium and health risks such as coronary heart disease, diabetes and hypertension. Nutritionists recommend that we reduce our intake of these ingredients, however, maintaining an acceptable flavor balance in these foods can, be difficult, since removing the fat or sodium can make the food bland.

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) can be very useful here. MSG contains only one-third of the amount of sodium in table salt, and it is used at far lower levels. Using a small amount of monosodium glutamate in a low sodium product can make it taste as good as its high salt counterpart.

Research has shown that people find food with low levels of salt much more acceptable when a small amount of monosodium glutamate is added.

glutamate, salt reduction

This study, published in the Journal of Food Science, evaluated people's responses to different versions of a clear soup, with and without MSG and with different levels of salt. The broken horizontal line on the graph shows the threshold level below which the participants in the research found the soup to be unpalatable. Without the addition of MSG, the soup did not become palatable until the salt concentration reached 0.75%. With MSG, however, the soup was palatable with a salt concentration of only 0.4%.

More recent research, "Reduction of Sodium Content in Spicy Soups Using Monosodium Glutamate," was published in the June 2016 Food and Nutrition Research journal. The researchers concluded that "low-sodium soups can be developed by the addition of appropriate amounts of MSG, while maintaining the acceptability of the spicy soups. It was also shown that it is feasible to reduce sodium intake by replacing salt (sodium chloride/NaCl) with MSG."

The study authors noted: "Soup is a common food that is majorly consumed all over the world. It is therefore essential to control the consumption level of NaCl in soups, in order to save consumers from the consequential health problems. Replacing NaCl with MSG in soup can contribute to better human health."

In this study, the researchers made several important conclusions related to sodium intake and how MSG can be beneficial in this regard:

* Reducing sodium intake is strongly recommended in many countries around the world, and various programs have been introduced in different countries to achieve gradual and sustained reductions in the amount of salt added to foods.

* Reducing the salt (NaCl/sodium chloride) content of foods may diminish their palatability.

* It is important to find an appropriate replacement (even if a partial replacement) and its optimum levels which can reduce the salt content of foods without any negative effect on their palatability.

* MSG has been suggested as a good flavor enhancer in low salt products that would not substantially increase the total sodium content of the product.

* The aim of the present study was to reduce sodium in spicy soups using MSG while maintaining their palatability.

* The sodium reduction in the "test" soups was performed by developing different formulations and monitoring: 1) the effect of the level of spiciness on umami and saltiness of spicy soups, and 2) the effect of MSG and salt levels on the umami taste of spicy soups and sodium reduction.

* The addition of MSG made it possible to reduce the salt concentration without affecting the pleasantness, saltiness, or taste intensity of the soups.

* Researchers determined that a 32.5% reduction in sodium level was made feasible by adding 0.7% MSG to the spicy soups.

* Previous studies that examined the interaction of salt and MSG in different types of soups also showed that it is possible to reduce sodium levels by substituting salt with MSG while maintaining good taste.

Read more about
the usefulness of MSG in a reduced sodium diet.

Other recent research:

"Optimization of Low Sodium Salts Mix for Shoestring Potatoes," published in the Journal of Food Science (June 2015). The authors stated: "Sodium chloride has several important functions in the food, influencing their sensory characteristics, functional properties, and microbiological safety. Thereby reducing sodium in processed foods becomes a major challenge. From this work it was verified that the use of salts mix of sodium chloride, potassium chloride, and monosodium glutamate is a relevant alternative to reduce the sodium content of foods, making them healthier and maintaining its sensory quality."