Monosodium Glutamate (MSG): Is This Silent Killer Hiding In Your Food



MSG is a popular flavor enhancer, originally used as an addition to Asian food, but these days found in thousands of foods we consume on a daily basis. MSG is an excitotoxin (or neurotoxin), meaning that it overexcites your cells which can cause damage, or even cell death.


What Exactly Is MSG?

MSG was first identified as a natural flavor enhancer in seaweed. Later they made a man-made version of it that hit the food market. It consists out of almost 80% free glutamic acid and 20% sodium.

The weird thing is, although it is used as a flavor enhancer, MSG has very little taste. What it actually does is tricking your taste buds and brain in believing you are eating food with more protein and savory taste than it actually has. So glutamic acid works as a nerve stimulant to make the most disgusting food taste great.

In the sixties MSG was considered safe by the FDA and it has been used in thousands of foods ever since. Even in many of the “Health” foods we know. It gave rise to the so called “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” or “MSG Symptom Complex”, with widespread reported side effects going from numbness and brain fog to heart palpitations and brain damage.


The Dangers Of MSG

While natural glutamic acid occurs in protein-rich foods such as grains, meat, dairy, and even in some vegetables, they are released in small concentrations amongst other amino acids and our body can process and eliminate them through your liver quite easily without causing a toxic reaction.

Many processed food however contain processed proteins. When proteins are processed or hydrolyzed, MSG or free glutamic acid is formed as a byproduct. Even the vegetable proteins, found in veggie burgers and other health foods, are hydrolyzed and contain MSG. And these hydrolyzed versions don’t require labeling as pure MSG was not added.

So even if you have heard about the danger of MSG and are reading your food labels, it may be not enough to look for MSG or glutamic acid. It has so many other sneaky names and is lurking in more foods than you could imagine (see list below).

Health Risks Of MSG Include:

  • Nerve cell and brain damage
  • Weight gain and obesity
  • Promotes liver inflammation and dysplasia
  • Eye Damage
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog
  • Depression
  • Numbness, tingling or burning sensations
  • Chest pain and breathing issuea
  • Heart palpitation


Tips To Keep MSG Out Of Your Diet

  1. Eliminate all processed food as much as possible. Stick to a fresh, whole food diet to avoid this danger toxin. Read all labels on packaged food or avoid them all together.
  2. Watch out when eating out. You could ask the waiter for MSG-free products or not to add MSG to your meal. But you’re only 100% sure to eat a MSG-free meal in your own kitchen.
  3. Watch out for sneaky hidden names of MSG. The FDA requires monosodium glutamate to be listed on the label, but the food industry doesn’t have to label products that contain free glutamic acid, which is MSG’s main component.

Here’s a list of ingredients that always contain MSG:

  • Autolyzed yeast
  • Yeast Extract
  • Yeast Nutrient
  • Monopotassium Glutamate
  • Monosodium Glutamate
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Gelatin
  • Textured Protein
  • Hydrolyzed Protein
  • Calcium Caseinate
  • Sodium Caseinate
  • Yeast food

Here’s a list of ingredients that often contain MSG or create MSG during processing:

  • Flavor, flavorings, seasonings or all phrases containing one of these words
  • Soy sauce
  • Stock, broth
  • Protease
  • Carrageenan
  • Malt extract
  • Matlodextrin
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Pectin
  • Kombu extract
  • Powdered milk
  • Barley malt
  • Enzymes
  • Anything enzyme modified
  • Corn starch
  • Soy Protein or soy protein isolate
  • Anything ultra-pasteurized
  • Anything protein fortified


FYI: Vitamin C and Ginger Root Extract

Make sure you get enough vitamin C or use ginger extract. Both have shown some great protective effects against MSG.


Avoiding or eliminating processed or packaged foods all the time can be hard and time consuming. So if you eat processed foods make sure to read the labels and be on the lookout for these many sneaky hidden names of MSG.

Opting for fresh, whole foods will give you enough flavor without the need of tricking your brain into believing you are eating something delicious and will improve your overall health.


If you are serious about losing weight and/or eating a fresh, whole food diet without feeling hungry and counting calories, click here


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Scientific Studies:

Amy Goodrich

Amy is a life and food lover, certified biologist, and holistic health coach. She is the founder of the healthy lifestyle website and creator of the online program, After successfully changing her family’s health and happiness, she’s on a mission to help other people achieve the life and body they want. You can find here on Facebook or Google+ or get her free clean, whole food recipe eBook here:

  • Chrispy

    In the UK we have two yeast extract products (that used to be made from leftover yeast from brewing) called marmite and vegemite (more popular in austrailia)

    I really, really like marmite, but I get the horrid feeling that this yeast extract is monosodium glutamate.

  • JesYogGerBud323

    I am sensitive to MSG & I get an immediate stomach upset if i eat a food with msg in it. We have plenty of Chinese restaurants here in Malaysia and we the Malay truly enjoy those delicious Chinese food. And i have noticed that not all Chinese are using MSG in their food. I pack my lunch everyday from a Chinese eatery ( i just loveeee their stir-fry vegetables. yummy :D) & i don't face any stomach upset. Anyway, I agreed that many Asians used msg in their cooking and they think that msg is just a 'natural' things to used & 'healthy'. But not to me.

  • Sonali De Silva

    This article says that the Health Risks of using MSG are Nerve cell and brain damage,Weight gain and obesity….. The Chinese and Japanese use MSG in their food like how we use salt. How come we don't see these so called symptoms in them? This is a load of rubbish.
    I love Chinese food and have been using MSG for the past 35 years and don't have any of these health problems.

    • John

      THIS IS NOT RUBBISH! MSG IS A SERIOUS NEUROTOXIN. I have had severe reactions in restaraunts from MSG. I experienced nausea, heart palpitations, dizziness, ringing in my ears, loss of hearing, diarrhea, etc. In a Japanese restaurant in Chicago, I PASSED OUT, fell on the floor and hit my head on the sink. I woke up later dazed, confused and very weak. SOME people experience NO reactions! I felt as if I were actually dying. In some individuals, ingesting MSG can be a serious medical emergency. Please, Sonali, do not disregard OR DISCOUNT those who who are MSG SENSITIVE. PLEASE EDUCATE YOURSELF AND LOSE JUDGEMENT.

    • Harish Sharma

      Good for you and enjoy your MSG. Remember healrh problems do not come with a warning and usually come with age.

  • Really unbelievable sent remarks! i'm thus stirred up to understand that finally you had opened your eating house. I'm waiting to urge some a lot of amendment from you and better of luck. Thanks for this share.

  • Is This Real Life

    Here's the reason why MSG is not harmful in normal, non-gluttonous servings