To improve the taste of food to be more tasty, often used additives, including MSG. But what exactly is the effect of MSG and is it safe to consume?
MSG or short for monosodium glutamate is a flavor enhancer that is usually added to food. Although the Food and Drug Control Agency (BPOM), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) include MSG in the classification of food ingredients that are “generally considered safe”, the use of additives remains controversial.
Learn more about MSG
MSG is a sodium molecule combined with glutamic acid. The sodium molecule is used to stabilize glutamic molecules, while glutamic acid serves as a flavor enhancer.
Some scientists refer to glutamate as “umami”, a reference to the fifth taste that can be felt by the human sense of taste, besides sweet, salty, bitter, and sour.
The taste of umami and the use of MSG have long been the main ingredients in Asian cuisine, especially Chinese food. Actually glutamate has no taste, but can increase other flavors and add a savory taste.
What to Look For Regarding MSG
The negative effects of MSG on health began to be questioned in a letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1968. A doctor described the negative reactions experienced after consuming Chinese-American food, he highlighted MSG as one of the potential causes of the reaction.
At the end of the 1960s, more and more people were discussing this. The situation at that time was better known as “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome”.
Research over the past forty years suspect that there are some people who have sensitivity or are allergic to MSG. The level of sensitivity of each person to MSG is indeed different. In one study, it was seen that those who consumed 3 grams of MSG in one meal more complained of symptoms, such as dizziness, tense muscles, tingling, and blushing.
In addition, the habit of consuming MSG in the long run has been shown to cause high blood pressure. Other research studies have also accused MSG as one of the causes of obesity, but scientifically this has not been confirmed.
If you feel that you are one of the people experiencing the condition, try to limit the use of MSG, both in cooking and in the consumption of packaged food. For those of you who don’t have this negative reaction, there is no strong scientific evidence for the adverse effects of MSG.
Reactions That Can Be Triggered Due to MSG
MSG has been used as a food additive for a long time. Various reports about reactions that can be triggered by MSG are known as complex symptoms of MSG, including:
- The body becomes weak
- The skin turns red
- Pressure or tight feeling on the face
- Numbness, tingling or burning sensation in certain body parts, such as the neck and face
- Rapid heartbeat
- Chest pain
How To Make It Still Delicious Without MSG?
It’s actually not difficult to get a savory or ‘umami’ taste in your food without adding a sprinkling of MSG. The following are some foods that can naturally enhance the taste of umami:
- Salty soy sauce
- Chinese cabbage
- Fish sauce
It is recommended that you limit your intake of MSG in your daily diet. But it does not hurt to add MSG as a flavoring, with low or moderate doses, occasionally into your cooking.