Diet & Nutrition 4 MIN READ 1122 VIEWS May 10, 2023

Is Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) Actually Unhealthy?

Monosodium Glutamate

If you’re someone who frequently consumes processed foods, eats out at restaurants, or snacks on pre-packaged treats, you may have come across the term MSG or Monosodium Glutamate.

While some people believe that MSG is bad for you and can be associated with unhealthy eating habits, others may not be fully aware of the potential health effects of consuming this common flavour enhancer.

The use of MSG in the food industry has sparked controversy and debate among health professionals and consumers for decades. While regulatory agencies have deemed MSG safe for consumption, there have been reports of adverse reactions from some individuals after consuming it.

In this blog, we will delve into the scientific research behind the effects of MSG on the body and explore the question of whether MSG bad for you or not.

What is Monosodium Glutamate?

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is a flavour enhancer that is commonly used in various food products. It is a sodium salt of glutamic acid, which is an amino acid found naturally in many foods, such as meat, fish, and vegetables. MSG is produced by fermenting sugar beets, molasses, or corn sugar with a specific strain of bacteria, and then extracting and purifying the resulting product.

MSG is commonly used in Asian cuisine, especially in Chinese and Japanese cooking. It is also added to many processed foods, such as canned soups, snack foods, and frozen dinners, to enhance their flavour. MSG has a savoury or umami taste, which means it enhances the natural flavours of foods, making them taste richer and more satisfying.

Although MSG is generally considered safe by the FDA and other regulatory agencies, some people may experience adverse reactions to it. These reactions are often referred to as “Chinese restaurant syndrome,” and may include symptoms such as headaches, flushing, sweating, and nausea. However, these symptoms are relatively rare and are generally mild and short-lived.

Effects of MSG

While MSG is generally recognised as safe by the FDA and other health organisations, there have been concerns about its potential effects on the body.

1. Brain Function

MSG can cross the blood-brain barrier, which means it can affect brain function. Some studies suggest that MSG may increase the release of certain neurotransmitters, such as glutamate and dopamine, which can cause overexcitation of neurons and lead to headaches, migraines, and seizures. It can also disrupt sleep and cause fatigue.

2. Digestive System

MSG can affect the digestive system in several ways. It can stimulate the production of digestive juices, which can cause bloating, gas, and diarrhoea. It can also damage the lining of the digestive tract and cause inflammation. Some people may experience nausea and vomiting after consuming MSG.

3. Cardiovascular System

MSG can affect the cardiovascular system by increasing blood pressure and heart rate. This is because it can cause the release of norepinephrine, a hormone that constricts blood vessels and raises blood pressure. In people with hypertension or heart disease, this effect can be particularly harmful.

4. Immune System

Some studies suggest that MSG can weaken the immune system by reducing the activity of certain immune cells. This can make people more susceptible to infections and diseases. It can also exacerbate allergies and autoimmune disorders.

5. Endocrine System

MSG can affect the endocrine system by disrupting the production and function of hormones. This is because it can interfere with the function of the hypothalamus, which regulates hormone production. It can also affect the production of insulin, which can lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.

6. Reproductive System

MSG can affect the reproductive system by reducing fertility and causing abnormalities in foetal development. This is because it can interfere with the production and function of reproductive hormones. It can also affect sperm count and motility in men.

7. Skin

Some people may experience skin reactions after consuming MSG, such as hives, rash, and itching. This is because it can trigger an allergic reaction in some people. It is one of the main MSG side effects.

Is MSG Safe?

Monosodium Glutamate is safe for most people to consume in moderate amounts.

The symptoms of MSG sensitivity are not life-threatening and typically go away on their own. People who are sensitive to MSG should avoid foods that contain it or limit their intake.

It is worth noting that many foods naturally contain glutamic acid, which is the main component of MSG, and some people may be sensitive to this as well.

Foods That Contain MSG

MSG is commonly found in many processed foods, including canned soups, broths, gravies, snack foods, and frozen dinners. It is also added to many restaurant dishes, especially in Chinese cuisine. Here are some examples of the foods that contain MSG:

1. Soy sauce: Soy sauce is a staple condiment in many Asian cuisines and is often used as a flavour enhancer in cooking.

2. Processed meats: Many processed types of meat, such as sausages, deli meats, and bacon, contain MSG to enhance their flavour.

3. Seasoning blends: Many seasoning blends, such as seasoned salt, taco seasoning, and meat rubs, contain MSG as a flavour enhancer.

4. Snack foods: Many snack foods, such as chips, crackers, and popcorn, contain MSG to enhance their flavour.

5. Frozen dinners: Many frozen dinners contain MSG to enhance their flavour.

6. Canned soups: Many canned soups, such as chicken noodles and tomato soup, contain MSG to enhance their flavour.

7. Fast food: Many fast food chains use MSG to enhance the flavour of their dishes, especially in Chinese cuisine.


Monosodium Glutamate is generally considered safe for consumption in moderate amounts. Regulatory agencies around the world have approved its use as a food additive, and extensive research has shown no adverse health effects associated with its consumption.

It’s important to note that not all people are sensitive to MSG, and it is generally considered safe for consumption in moderate amounts. However, if you have a known sensitivity to MSG foods, it is important to read food labels carefully and avoid foods that contain it.

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