Straight Dope: MSG

While reading this thread,

and a link inside the thread, I wondered…MSG, good, bad, or indifferent?
What’s the straight dope on MSG?

My understanding is that it’s an additive to food that says to your taste buds “Hey, this tastes good. You should eat more of it.” Without actually tasting good or providing any food value.

It’s harmless, but there’s been a bunch of anecdotal-only evidence that it causes problems for some people, which has no proven basis despite years tests and research.

Obviously it tastes good to some people or they wouldn’t add it to their food. As for “food value”, you could say the same about any spice. Is oregano an essential nutrient?

MSG (monosodium glutamate, is just a free form (not part of a protein) of the amino acid glutamic acid, which can be found in numerous foods, as it is a component of protein (many foods that claim to have no MSG will have a footnote like "except that which naturally occurs in yeast, soy, etc). While not an essential amino acid (your body can produce it if it needs it), it is necessary for cellular metabolism and brain function.

I’m still mad about it. They never should have let them tear down the classic Penn Station just to put up a freaking sports arena.

IOW, it’s GOOD!

It’s my favorite food additive. And perhaps in very rare circumstances, totally harmless.

Did you mean “except in very rare circumstances”?

I use MSG as an ingredient as I do salt and other seasonings. I don’t add it to everything, but a little Accent here and there lifts certain dishes and gives them a fullness of flavor. I’m all in favor of MSG.

I have a cousin who won’t eat at Chinese restaurants. She says the MSG they add to the food makes her “break out in a sweat.”

I find this interesting, since she has no problem eating fast food (e.g. Taco Bell, KFC) and has a freezer full of processed foods. All of which contain MSG.

There’s someone in my extended family who claims that MSG makes his mouth go numb. I am skeptical.

Acronyms are evil (AAE). Especially so when they expand out to something sciency-sounding.

He should probably sprinkle it in/on food, not push giant scoopfulls in his mouth.

I was just pondering this thread topic. So, MSG has similar pros and cons to table salt?

Yes, I did. :smack:

Previous threads:

Re: the second link. Told’ja I loved the stuff.

Doesn’t it cause thirst and may cause headaches in some people?

According to this comment in the second link that Crafter_Man posted, it is the salt that causes symptoms, not MSG:

The last few comments also point to the fact that nitrites are often used in foods blamed on causing MSG reactions (and unlike MSG, there are real health-related reasons to avoid nitrites, at when added to processed meat, since they naturally occur in large amounts in vegetables).

It has the exact taste and mouth feel as snot. Don’t even pretend you’ve never tasted snot.

The headache it gives me, feels exactly like a sinus headache. Maybe it is snot. :dubious:

Unless you’ve tasted it in tomatoes, you’re tasting something else.