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Everything you need to know about monosodium glutamate

22 mayo, 2021

Among the many additives that we find in industrial foods, one of the most popular and controversial is monosodium glutamate, a substance widely used today and widely spread that gathers both followers and enemies. To give you a better understanding of the reactions of love and hate that it arouses, we show you everything you need to know about monosodium glutamate.

What is the monosodium glutamate?

As its name implies, monosodium glutamate is a salt used as a flavor enhancer in many foods, in which we can see it as additive E-621, and also, it can be referred to as MSG, Chinese salt, ajinomoto or umami, referring to the fifth flavor.

It is found in different processed foods, especially in packed broths and soups or in frozen salty products, as combined with other ingredients enhances and accentuates the flavor, increasing their palatability.

Despite its great role in the food industry, a series of adverse reactions and potential negative effects have generated controversy about this well-known and widely used additive. Here’s everything you need to know about monosodium glutamate.


Possible health consequences

Just like him monosodium glutamate It has been a great ally of the food industry due to its great power over the taste and organoleptic characteristics of products, much has been said about the safety of its consumption.

First, it is linked to “Chinese restaurant syndrome”, characterized by redness, sweating, headache and dizziness, symptoms that develop after its ingestion, apparently, in people with a greater sensitivity to this compound, as there is no scientific evidence linking monosodium glutamate with this type of conditions.

On the other hand, many studies in rodents show that monosodium glutamate can affect our brain, causing among other causes a decrease in the action of the hormone leptin, which reduces appetite and intervenes in the control of body weight.

Likewise, also in rodents, neurological damage has been observed, obesity and female sterility after the injection of monosodium glutamate, as well as alterations of different organs associated with endocrine function.

However, as we said earlier, no human study has proven such effects in our body, therefore, even this substance is widely used as an additive due to the absence of scientific evidence to confirm its negative effects.


About the safety of monosodium glutamate

After all the controversy raised by the use of this additive in different processed foods, the safety of monosodium glutamate was evaluated, concluding that although the existence of a population group more sensitive to its consumption is not ruled out, no toxic or carcinogenic effects can be confirmed, and effects on reproductive health are ruled out, as well as the intake of this additive was not associated with its presence in breast milk or crossed the placental barrier.

Negative effects have only been observed in rodents very small and after administering extremely high doses or doing it parenterally, that is, directly into the blood.

Therefore, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has not established an admitted daily dose, due to the lack of evidence to confirm the toxicity of monosodium glutamate in humans.

Likewise, the update of the consensus on monosodium glutamate indicates that in European countries, the intake of this additive is between 5 and 12 grams per day, and since a consumption of up to 16,000 mg per kg of body weight is considered safe, believes that the use of this compound as a flavor enhancer is harmless to the health of the population.

For all this, monosodium glutamate is still considered safe and without risk to human health. However, in large amounts administered directly to the blood could cause damage.

Consumed as part of processed foods, this ingredient would not cause major consequences, however, as we know, it is always advisable for health care to choose more fresh foods and preparations and reduce the presence of industrially processed products in our diet that, as a general rule, have not only additives, but also more sodium, sugars, fats and calories.

Consulted bibliography | Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners, Volume 18, Issue 10, pages 482–486, October 2006; American Journal of Physiology – Endocrinology and Metabolism Published 1 July 1997 Vol. 273 no. 1, E202-E206; Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, Volume 99, Issue 6, Part 1, June 1997, Pages 757–762; Science 9 May 1969: Vol. 164 no. 3880 pp. 719-721 DOI: 0.1126 / science.164.3880.719; J. Nutr. April 1, 2000 vol. 130 no. 4 1049S-1052S and European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2007) 61, 304–313. doi: 10.1038 / sj.ejcn.1602526; published online 6 September 2006

Directly to the Palate | Chinese restaurant syndrome

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