Food additives are a common part of our food products. One of the most common food additive is monosodium glutamate. We commonly call it as Ajinomoto. Ajinomoto actually is a brand name while the compound is known as MSG. Various studies have been conducted to see how MSG or ajinomoto affects our body, but a lot of conflicting debates have risen.
The most common debate is about MSG or ajinomoto and Chinese restaurant syndrome. Many have experienced various symptoms such as headaches, chest pain, sweating, flushing while some even develop breathing problems, swelling of the throat etc. Now you know why you get the stuffy, icky feeling after eating out regularly.
Where is MSG commonly added?
- Added in soups, broths,stocks, sauces, canned foods, chips and in almost all processed food etc
- Used widely in Chinese and other Asian cuisines.
I remember a client asking me whether MSG can cause weight gain. Hmmm, MSG or ajinomoto can make food tasty and tasty food can make you eat more. Of course, this is not a practicle answer and it does not make you gain weight. But most of the cooks add it to make the food to enhance flavour. Tastemaker powders are used by almost all restaurants and these powders contain MSG or ajinomoto as it enhances the flavour. This shows whenever we need soul food, we call for a chinese takeout and they do tantalize our tastebuds. This can be the same case as in Instant Noodles such as Maggi, which we reach out while we are hungry.
MSG has been linked to obesity, degenerative disease such as Alzheimers, tumours, headaches, allergies, asthma etc. Contrary to popular belief, MSG or ajinomoto is not high in sodium content. MSG only contains 1/3 the amount of sodium as table salt. But when used with table salt it can increase the sodium content of the food.
The bottom line is to play safe and avoid MSG while cooking and to check labels for “No added MSG“. If you are eating out in Asian restaurants, request them not to add it in the food.