Posts Tagged ‘What is MSG’

What is MSG?

Glutamic acid is one of the amino acid links in protein.  When glutamic acid is freed from the protein chain, it becomes soluble in water or body fluids, where it meets a sodium molecule which floats with it.  Hence the name Mono Sodium Glutamate or MSG.

In most foods, some of the glutamic acid is freed from protein.  Since it is not bound to protein, this freed glutamic acid or MSG is absorbed quickly in the blood stream.  If the amount is small, the impact is non existent.  If the amount is large, its fast release and absorption can overwhelm the body’s metabolism, and trigger a reaction.

MSG is sometimes difficult to identify because it is hidden in other food additives, or is the result of food processing, when it is added as a flavor enhancer.

Manufacturers add it as an ingredient that is part of another ingredient, such as “hydrolyzed vegetable protein”.  This is simply vegetable protein that is broken down (hydrolyzed) into its constituent amino acids

MSG may even hide behind a label like “natural flavors”.

Milk protein contains about 20% glutamic acid, but it is firmly bound to the protein chain.  In the cheese making process, fermentation breaks apart the protein, and releases MSG.  The more AGED the cheese, the more milk protein is digested, and more MSG is released.

Highly fermented soy sauce could also have high levels of MSG

It is best to exercise caution with fermented foods

Certain foods, such as peas, corn, mushrooms and tomatoes contain high levels of free glutamic acid.  BOILING removes much of the water soluble MSG. When corn is removed from the cob and boiled, each kernel gets exposed to boiling water and loses most of the MSG.

MSG is probably lost during some forms of corn processing which occurs in products such as chips, syrups etc.

Cooking helps to minimize the MSG in food.  Beans and sprouts, especially must be cooked.

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