Is MSG Harmful for You?

Is MSG Harmful for You?

MSG is undoubtedly one of the most controversial ingredients present on the planet Earth. While some people claim that it is a safe and rather healthy food additive to spice up the flavor and reduce the sodium intake, others do not agree. 

In fact, some people are of the viewpoint that MSG is a cancer-causing additive. It has also been linked to other side effects such as high blood pressure and a headache. 

Despite the abundance of MSG in most of the modern food supply, it is, by no means, a staple ingredient of a healthy diet. Not only does it cause negative symptoms in some people sensitive to its effects, but is also a constituent of the heavily processed, unhealthy food items. 

Moreover, MSG also lacks most of the essential nutrients that your body needs. 

Why is MSG so bad? What are its side effects? Does it even have any positive aspects? Here is everything you need to know. 

What is MSG? 

MSG, also called as monosodium glutamate, refers to a common ingredient and a food additive utilized to enhance the flavor of canned, processed, and frozen foods. 

MSG seasoning is directly derived from glutamic acid, a form of protein found in different foods in abundance. These food items also include fruits and vegetables. 

Monosodium glutamate is manufactured through the process of fermentation and is widely known to be used in savory dishes. 

But why is MSG so controversial? 

This is because it contains a highly concentrated isolated form of glutamic acid. MSG is processed quite differently in the body and may increase the levels of glutamate inside your body.  

It is believed that an excessive consumption of MSG can lead to an array of problems such as metabolic syndrome, asthma, and more. 

What are the Side Effects of using MSG?
A big part of the medical community believes that MSG can cause health problems in the users. Some of the potential health hazards triggered by using MSG are mentioned below: 

It Causes Reactions in Certain People 

Research has shown that certain people may be more sensitive to the effects of MSG and may even experience a slew of these side effects right after the consumption. Also known as the “Chinese restaurant syndrome”, one study has shown that MSG triggers side effects in many people with high sensitivity to this agent. 

The most common symptoms of this allergy include muscle tightness, weakness, numbness or tingling, MSG headache, and flushing of the skin.

It Triggers Free Radical Formation 

Consumption of a large amount of MSG has been related to oxidative damage to the cells. This is often followed by the formation of free radicals. 

Consumption of a large amount of MSG has been related to oxidative damage to the cells. This is often followed by the formation of free radicals. 

Is MSG Harmful for You?

A lot of in vitro studies, as well as animal models, have focused on the relation of monosodium glutamate with the formation of free radicals. For instance, one animal model present in the Journal of Cardiovascular Disease Research has indicated that feeding high doses of MSG to rats may increase oxidative stress. This effect was particularly evident in the heart tissue.

The formation of free radicals has also been tied to the development of various chronic conditions such as cancer, heart diseases, and diabetes. However, remember that most

It may Lead to Weight Gain 

Studies are not yet conclusive about the effects of MSG on weighing control. However, some research has shown that it can improve satiety and make you feel full. At the same time, some studies have shown that it may lead to weight gain and increased food intake.

One such study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, for example, indicated that adding MSG to a protein-rich diet had no effect on the satiety. It actually reported an increase in the caloric intake.

Meanwhile, some scientists have also discovered that consuming MSG can lead to weight gain and may increase the risk of being overweight.

It could Increase Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is considered to be a serious condition which may cause extra strain on the heart. Resultantly, the heart muscles tend to weaken over the time. In addition to the high triglyceride and cholesterol level, a high blood pressure is also a major risk factor for heart diseases.

In a study published in a journal named Nutrition in the year 2015, researchers found that the consumption of a high amount of MSG can cause an increase in the diastolic and systolic blood pressure.

Similarly, it has also been found that the intake of MSG can increase the blood pressure in the Chinese population, as per a study performed by the Jiangsu Provincial Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

It is Linked to Asthma Attacks

The intake of MSG has been linked with a higher risk of asthma attacks, especially in those who are already at an increased risk. A study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology investigated the effects of taking 500 miligrams of MSG in 32 people already suffering from asthma.

RELATED: Salt Craving- What Might Be Causing It?

The study found that almost 40 percent of the individuals experienced a worsening in their symptoms within 12 hours of consuming MSG. In addition to this, almost half of these participants also had a reaction and developed the symptoms of the Chinese restaurant syndrome such as numbness, a headache, and flushing.

It may have ties with Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic syndrome refers to a group of conditions which may significantly increase your risk of experiencing problems such as diabetes, heart diseases, and stroke. Some of the risk factors for this syndrome include a high blood sure, an excessive amount of belly fat, increased blood pressure, and abnormal cholesterol levels.

The use of MSG has been linked to the development of these symptoms hence, considered as a health hazard in a vast majority of the population.

Are there any Benefits of MSG? 

While most of the research focuses on the negative side of monosodium glutamate and how it can prove to be extremely harmful to your body, the statement is not entirely true. 

Is MSG Harmful for You?

In fact, there may be a possibility of MSG being beneficial for your body. 

Monosodium glutamate is usually used to improve and enhance the taste of various savory dishes. It can also decrease the need for adding tons of salt in your favorite dishes. 

You all are well aware of the hazards of eating foods with too much salt on it. Excessive salt consumption has been linked to various health conditions such as bone loss, high blood pressure, and kidney problems. 

Pairing MSG with a little bit of salt is said to help in cutting down your salt intake by 20 to about 40 percent. This can be extremely beneficial for certain people. 

In addition to this, the intake of MSG has been linked with enhanced satiety and a reduction in the caloric intake at subsequent meals.  


Monosodium glutamate is a controversial ingredient included in a lot of food items you eat on a daily basis. While it has proven to cause detrimental effects on health, there are certain positive effects of MSG as well.  

Scientists are still trying to weigh the pros and cons of MSG on health and no solid judgment has been passed as yet. So, it would be a better decision to avoid MSG until the scientific community reaches a definitive conclusion whether to include it in your diet or not 

Nancy Walker

Nancy holds a Medicine degree and a Masters of Science MS in Infectious Disease and Global Health (MS-IDGH) from Tufts University. She worked as a lecturer for three years before she turned towards medical writing. Her area of interest are infectious diseases; causes, mechanism, diagnosis, treatments and prevention strategies. Most of her writings ensure an easy understanding of uncommon diseases.

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