Wednesday, April 22, 2009

MSG: A Silent Killer May Be Lurking in Your Kitchen

by Joseph Mercola
Mercola.com
April 21 2009

A widespread and silent killer that’s worse for your health than alcohol, nicotine and many drugs is likely lurking in your kitchen cabinets right now. “It” is monosodium glutamate (MSG), a flavor enhancer that’s known widely as an addition to Chinese food, but that’s actually added to thousands of the foods you and your family regularly eat, especially if you are like most Americans and eat the majority of your food as processed foods or in restaurants.

MSG is one of the worst food additives on the market and is used in canned soups, crackers, meats, salad dressings, frozen dinners and much more. It’s found in your local supermarket and restaurants, in your child’s school cafeteria and, amazingly, even in baby food and infant formula.

MSG is more than just a seasoning like salt and pepper, it actually enhances the flavor of foods, making processed meats and frozen dinners taste fresher and smell better, salad dressings more tasty, and canned foods less tinny.

While MSG’s benefits to the food industry are quite clear, this food additive could be slowly and silently doing major damage to your health.

You may remember when the MSG powder called “Accent” first hit the U.S. market. Well, it was many decades prior to this, in 1908, that monosodium glutamate was invented. The inventor was Kikunae Ikeda, a Japanese man who identified the natural flavor enhancing substance of seaweed.

Taking a hint from this substance, they were able to create the man-made additive MSG, and he and a partner went on to form Ajinomoto, which is now the world’s largest producer of MSG (and interestingly also a drug manufacturer).

Chemically speaking, MSG is approximately 78 percent free glutamic acid, 21 percent sodium, and up to 1 percent contaminants.

It’s a misconception that MSG is a flavor or “meat tenderizer.” In reality, MSG has very little taste at all, yet when you eat MSG, you think the food you’re eating has more protein and tastes better. It does this by tricking your tongue, using a little-known fifth basic taste: umami.

Umami is the taste of glutamate, which is a savory flavor found in many Japanese foods, bacon and also in the toxic food additive MSG. It is because of umami that foods with MSG taste heartier, more robust and generally better to a lot of people than foods without it.

The ingredient didn’t become widespread in the United States until after World War II, when the U.S. military realized Japanese rations were much tastier than the U.S. versions because of MSG.

In 1959, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration labeled MSG as “Generally Recognized as Safe” (GRAS), and it has remained that way ever since. Yet, it was a telling sign when just 10 years later a condition known as “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome” entered the medical literature, describing the numerous side effects, from numbness to heart palpitations, that people experienced after eating MSG. Today that syndrome is more appropriately called “MSG Symptom Complex,” which the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) identifies as "short-term reactions" to MSG.

Why is MSG so dangerous? Read more here.

Here is a list of ingredients that ALWAYS contain MSG:
Autolyzed Yeast
Calcium Caseinate
Gelatin
Glutamate
Glutamic Acid
Hydrolyzed Protein
Monopotassium Glutamate
Monosodium Glutamate
Sodium Caseinate
Textured Protein
Yeast Extract
Yeast Food
Yeast Nutrient

These ingredients OFTEN contain MSG or create MSG during processing:
Flavors and Flavorings Seasonings
Natural Flavors and Flavorings
Natural Pork Flavoring
Natural Beef Flavoring
Natural Chicken Flavoring
Soy Sauce
Soy Protein Isolate
Soy Protein
Bouillon
Stock
Broth
Malt Extract
Malt Flavoring
Barley Malt
Anything Enzyme Modified
Carrageenan
Maltodextrin
Pectin
Enzymes
Protease
Corn Starch
Citric Acid
Powdered Milk
Anything Protein Fortified
Anything Ultra-Pasteurized

© Copyright 2009 Dr. Joseph Mercola

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