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You Don't Have To Completely Give Up MSG

Did you know that we actually ingest more sodium from regular table salt?
PHOTO: Pixabay

Before you start ranting about how we’re promoting obesity and other unhealthy eating habits (lol seriously), let us explain.

While we aren’t telling you to make MSG-filled foods a regular part of your diet, you probably don’t have to give up Chinese food altogether. According to Dominic Pinero, a clinical assistant professor of nutrition at NYU Steinhardt, there’s actually very little evidence to support all those years of food-shaming MSG—and that there’s nothing inherently dangerous about it!

Back in the '60s, The New England Journal of Medicine published a letter about how the writer experienced heart palpitations, numbness, and weakness after eating at a Chinese restaurant. This resulted in decades of labeling MSG as the big, bad wolf of America’s food system.


No, seriously, one letter prompted an investigation by the Food and Drug Administration. A follow-up study found that “some people had side effects like numbness, tingling, and drowsiness after consuming more than three grams of MSG at a time.”

Yes, that sounds kind of shady, but what we fail to take into consideration is that a typical serving of food with MSG only has around 0.5 milligrams of it. It’s highly unlikely that people will consume more than three grams at a time. Someone finally cleared the air in 2000, when the Journal of Nutrition “concluded that neither epidemiological surveys nor challenge studies provide evidence that ingestion of MSG is associated with adverse reactions in the population at large."

But what about the sodium content in MSG? Pinero argues that we actually ingest more sodium from regular table salt, because a tablespoon of MSG has only about 12 percent the amount of sodium in a tablespoon of salt! Plus, there’s MSG in a lot of the foods we eat: eggs, cheese, nuts, and more. And we’re still alive!

Now, please pass the chao fan

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