17.9.08

MSG or Umami? Do I have a Choice?

MSG served as my friend SherX's, topic on her latest post. And I thought I would add my two cents worth to it. As described in a wikipedia entry, MSG or monosodium glutamate is a "sodium salt of the non-essential amino acid glutamic acid. It is used as a food additive and is commonly marketed as a flavor enhancer". " It is a non-essential amino acid, which means that the body produces what is needed and we don’t need to make it up in our diet. The brain uses glutamic acid as a neurotransmitter". Read more of this from here.

How safe is MSG really? It seems there are those who say it is okey. Just eat safe levels. But here's a worrisome article I found, and which touches on MSG. It says, "Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is not just used on Chinese food but used by most food processors to enhance the products they produce. MSG can be concealed in foods as natural flavors or as spices. Companies like it because it suppresses off-flavors, bitterness, sourness, and the tiny taste of canned foods.

And so as it is, the market is already flooded with MSG rich food; products usually 'junk', (to me at least), have the tendency to be over-eaten, particularly by the young. Heck!

And more: "according to the Pacific Research Laboratories, medical research linked MSG to many adverse health effects and disease like Alzheimer, Lou Gehrig and Parkinson. Another substance found in MSG is glutamic acid. It effects the nervous system and causes depression".

And there's another one which states that, researchers of Hirosaki University in Japan, found that MSG can cause blindness.

There's more. According to some medical research MSG can be associated with obesity. Find abstract of the study here and here.

But what's more incredible is that, locally, MSG has now assumed a different marketing tact and now it is being sold as umami. Accordingly, wiki says, umami is Japanese for 'savory', a 'deliciousness' factor derived specifically from the presence of natural amino acid, which is glutamic acid, or glutamates, which are in turn 'common in meats, cheese, broth, stock, and other protein-heavy foods. The action of umami receptors explains why foods treated with monosodium glutamate (MSG) often taste 'heartier'.

Does this mean that umami is a step-down version of MSG?

And if so is MSG then a slow and gentle kind of poisoning?

God Help Us!!!



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