Fast Food With Msg


On Fast Food With Msg, I’ll be sharing my favorite fast food recipes and dissecting how they work. If you’re looking for a way to bring the flavor of your favorite drive-thru meal home with you, you’ve come to the right place! I have been lucky enough to travel all over the world, but no matter where I go, I always find myself gravitating towards the local fast food dishes. Sometimes they look similar to American fast food, but more often than not, they’re completely different.

Fast Food With Msg

Hundreds of ingredients are added to foods during processing to enhance the flavor of the final product.

Monosodium glutamate, commonly known as MSG, is one of the most controversial food additives approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

While it’s “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) to be used in the food supply by regulatory agencies, some research shows that it may negatively affect health, which is why many people choose to avoid it .

This article explains what MSG is, what foods it’s typically added to, and what the research says about possible health implications.

Chinese take out food

What is MSG?

MSG is a popular flavor enhancer derived from L-glutamic acid, a naturally occurring amino acid that’s necessary for the creation of proteins .

Aside from being used as a food additive, MSG occurs naturally in certain foods, including tomatoes and cheeses .

It was first identified as a flavor enhancer by Japanese researchers in 1908 and has since become one of the most widely used additives in food production.

Today, it can be found in a number of processed products, from fast food to canned soups.

MSG boosts the flavor of foods by stimulating taste receptors and has been shown in research studies to increase the acceptance of particular flavors. Adding MSG to foods results in an umami taste, which is characterized as savory and meaty .

This popular additive has been deemed GRAS by the FDA, though some experts argue that it can have potentially dangerous side effects, particularly when consumed on a long-term basis.

The FDA mandates that MSG must be labeled by its usual name of monosodium glutamate when used as an ingredient in food. Foods that naturally contain MSG, such as tomato products, protein isolates, and cheeses, aren’t required to list MSG as an ingredient.

In other countries, MSG is classified as a food additive and may be listed by the E-number E621 .

Here are 8 foods that commonly contain MSG.

1. Fast food

One of the best-known sources of MSG is fast food, particularly Chinese food.

In fact, MSG symptom complex is a condition characterized by symptoms including headache, hives, swelling of the throat, itching, and belly pain experienced by some people shortly after consuming MSG-laden Chinese food.

Although many Chinese restaurants have stopped using MSG as an ingredient, others continue to add it to a number of popular dishes, including fried rice.

MSG is also used by franchises like Kentucky Fried Chicken and Chick-fil-A to enhance the flavor of foods.

For example, Chick-fil-A’s Chicken Sandwich and Kentucky Fried Chicken’s Extra Crispy Chicken Breast are just some of the menu items that contain MSG.HEALTHLINE NEWSLETTERGet wellness tips to help you meet your next milestone

2. Chips and snack foods

Many manufacturers use MSG to boost the savory flavor of chips.

Consumer favorites like Doritos and Pringles are just some of the chip products that contain MSG.

Aside from being added to potato chips, corn chips, and snack mixes, MSG can be found in a number of other snack foods, so it’s best to read the label if you want to avoid consuming this additive.

3. Seasoning blends 

Seasoning blends are used to give a salty, savory taste to dishes like stews, tacos, and stir-fries.

MSG is used in many seasoning blends to intensify taste and boost the umami flavor cheaply without adding extra salt.

In fact, MSG is used in the production of low sodium items to increase flavor without the addition of salt. MSG can be found in many low sodium flavoring products, including seasoning blends and bouillon cubes.

Additionally, MSG is added to some meat, poultry, and fish rubs and seasonings to enhance the palatability of foods.

4. Frozen meals 

Although frozen meals can be a convenient and cheap way to put food on the table, they often contain a host of unhealthy and potentially problematic ingredients, including MSG.

Many companies that make frozen dinners add MSG to their products to improve the savory flavor of the meal.

Other frozen products that often contain MSG include frozen pizzas, mac and cheese, and frozen breakfast meals.

5. Soups

Canned soups and soup mixes often have MSG added to them to intensify the savory flavor that consumers crave.

Perhaps the most popular soup product that contains this controversial additive is Campbell’s chicken noodle soup.

Many other soup products, including canned soups, dried soup mixes, and bouillon seasonings, can contain MSG, making it important to check individual product labels.

6. Processed meats  

Processed meats like hot dogs, lunch meats, beef jerky, sausages, smoked meats, pepperoni, and meat snack sticks can contain MSG.

Aside from being used to enhance taste, MSG is added to meat products like sausage to reduce the sodium content without changing the flavor.

One study found that replacing sodium with MSG in pork patties enhanced the salty flavor and acceptability of the product without negatively affecting taste.

7. Condiments 

Condiments like salad dressing, mayonnaise, ketchup, barbecue sauce, and soy sauce often contain added MSG.

In addition to MSG, many condiments are packed with unhealthy additives like added sugars, artificial colorings, and preservatives, so it’s best to purchase products that are made with limited, whole food ingredients whenever possible.

If you’re concerned about using MSG-containing condiments, consider making your own so that you have complete control over what you’re consuming. For starters, you can try out these delicious and healthy salad dressing recipes.

8. Instant noodle products

A staple for college students around the world, instant noodles provide a quick, filling meal for those on a budget.

However, many manufacturers use MSG to boost the savory flavor of instant noodle products. Plus, instant noodles are typically made from unhealthy ingredients and are loaded with added salt, refined carbs, and preservatives that can harm your health.

Instant noodle consumption has been associated with increased heart disease risk factors, including elevated blood sugar, cholesterol, triglyceride, and blood pressure levels.

Is MSG harmful?

While research is far from conclusive, some studies have suggested that consuming MSG may lead to negative health outcomes.

For example, MSG consumption has been linked to obesity, liver damage, blood sugar fluctuations, elevated heart disease risk factors, behavioral problems, nerve damage, and increased inflammation in animal studies.

Some human research has demonstrated that consuming MSG may promote weight gain and increase hunger, food intake, and your risk of metabolic syndrome, a group of symptoms that raises your risk of chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes.

For example, a study in 349 adults found that those who consumed the most MSG were much more likely to have metabolic syndrome than those who consumed the least, and that every 1 gram increase of MSG per day significantly increased the chances of being overweight.

However, larger, well-designed studies are needed to confirm this potential link.

There’s also some evidence that MSG increases hunger and may lead you to eat more at meals. However, current research suggests a more complex relationship between MSG and appetite, with some studies finding that MSG may even decrease intake at meals .

Although research is mixed on how MSG may affect overall health, it’s clear that consuming high doses of 3 grams or higher of MSG per day is likely to lead to adverse side effects, including headache and increased blood pressure.

For reference, it’s estimated that the average consumption of MSG in the United States and the United Kingdom is around 0.55 grams per day, while intake of MSG in Asian countries is around 1.2–1.7 grams per day.

Although it’s possible, consuming 3 grams of MSG or more per day is unlikely when eating normal portion sizes.

However, certain individuals who have a sensitivity to MSG may experience side effects like hives, swelling of the throat, headache, and fatigue after consuming smaller amounts, depending on individual tolerance.

Still, a review of 40 studies found that, overall, studies that have linked MSG with adverse health effects are of poor quality and have methodological flaws, and that strong clinical evidence of MSG hypersensitivity is lacking, highlighting a need for future research.

While evidence of MSG sensitivity is lacking, many people report that consuming this additive leads to adverse side effects.

If you think you may have a sensitivity to MSG, it’s best to avoid the products listed on this page and always check labels for added MSG.

Furthermore, even though the safety of MSG is debated, it’s clear that foods that commonly contain MSG, like chips, frozen meals, fast food, instant noodles, and processed meats, aren’t good for overall health.

Therefore, cutting out MSG-laden products will likely benefit you in the long run — even if you aren’t sensitive to MSG.

6 Everyday Foods That Contain MSG

Monosodium glutamate is one of the most widely-used and controversial food additives approved by the FDA. MSG is categorized as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) for use in food products, but some people choose to avoid it for fear of adverse health effects. The FDA specifies that MSG must be listed on the nutrition label as an ingredient. 

According to Harvard University, various scientific sources have repeatedly confirmed that MSG is safe when consumed at ordinary levels by the general public. The university estimates that the public consumes an average of 11 grams of glutamate per day, a naturally occurring source found in many proteins, and less than one gram every day from the additive MSG.

What Is MSG?

MSG is a sodium salt derived from glutamic acid, one of many amino acids essential to the protein in naturally-occurring foods. It’s also referred to as glutamate, the free-form version that acts as a neurotransmitter in the body and is linked to brain development.

While naturally occurring, glutamate can function as an enhancer when isolated from other amino acids. MSG is simply the sodium salt of the amino acid, made of sodium, water and glutamate. 

Which Foods Commonly Contain MSG?

Monosodium glutamate comes from a larger group of chemicals called glutamate, one of many essential amino acids. It is a vital part of many protein-containing foods, such as milk, cheese, fish, meat and many vegetables. Parmesan cheese, mushrooms and tomatoes are particularly high in this substance. MSG is also used as an additive in processed foods and fast food, especially Chinese food.

MSG emphasizes the natural flavor of food and has no texture or flavor on its own. It was recognized as a flavor enhancer by Japanese researchers in 1908, first discovered by chemist Kikunae Ikeda, and has since become one of the most widely used additives in food production. Ikeda identified its unique taste as “umami,” a new addition to the common tastes of sweet, salty, sour and bitter. Here are six everyday foods that contain MSG along with potential health concerns.

1. Fast Food

Fast food, particularly Chinese food, is one of the most common sources of MSG. “Chinese restaurant syndrome” is characterized by itching, headache, hives, throat irritation or swelling and belly pain after eating Chinese food containing large amounts of MSG, according to a 2017 study published in the Indian Journal of Critical Care Medicine. Researchers analyzed a case where a patient experienced severe symptoms that included an inability to speak and difficulty swallowing saliva. Researchers indicate that this condition may pose a life-threatening risk as the more severe symptoms take hours to appear. Chinese restaurant syndrome symptoms were first recognized in patients as early as 1968.

Some Chinese restaurants have stopped using MSG or have limited its use. However, others continue to include large amounts of MSG in their dishes, such as fried rice. Another point to consider is that many niche Asian restaurants cannot alter certain recipes because soy sauce or other blended sauces that contain MSG are essential to palatability.

Fast food restaurants like Burger King, Chick-fil-A and Kentucky Fried Chicken also use MSG as a flavor enhancer. In 2019, a Chick-fil-A spokesperson told Today that its chicken nuggets, classic chicken sandwich and spicy chicken sandwich contain MSG, but that it was researching MSG-free options for those sensitive to the additive.

2. Chips and Other Snacks

What’s your favorite brand of chips? Look closely at the ingredients label because you may find it contains MSG. Pringles and Doritos are just a few examples of chips that contain MSG. 

MSG enhances the savory and contrasting flavors of many chips. It’s also why your chips may taste a little saltier, aside from sodium content. Many types of corn and potato chips may contain MSG, but snack mixes, like trail mix, may also list it as an ingredient on the label.

3. Condiments 

Condiments like soy sauce, barbecue sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise and salad dressing commonly contain MSG. A low level of MSG in condiments shouldn’t pose a risk on its own. 

However, many condiments also contain a consortium of unhealthy additives such as preservatives, artificial colors and added sugar that can affect or worsen health conditions. Harvard Health reports that food coloring additives can worsen ADHD symptoms in children.

Overall, it’s best to buy condiments that are made with whole foods and fewer ingredients. You can also make your own condiments, such as this five-minute apple cider vinaigrette.

3. Seasoning Blends 

Seasoning blends infuse marinated meats, vegetables, soups, stews and tacos with a savory and salty taste. It’s a quick way to get an umami flavor affordably while avoiding excess salt. 

MSG seasoning is included in many meat, fish and poultry rubs to enhance palatability. However, it can be more affordable and healthier to create your own signature barbecue rub in the long run.

4. Processed Meats

Processed meats like hot dogs, lunch meats, beef jerky, sausages, smoked meats, pepperoni and meat snack sticks contain MSG.

Aside from enhancing taste, MSG is added to meat products like sausage to reduce the sodium content without changing the flavor.

One 2014 study published in Food Science of Animal Resources reported that substituting sodium with MSG in pork patties brought out the salty flavor and palatability of the product without adversely affecting taste.

5. Frozen Foods 

Frozen meals provide a fast and affordable way to ensure you get a meal in after a long day. However, some frozen meals may also include extra additives, including MSG, to make up for a loss in fresh taste.

Frozen foods that contain MSG include breakfast meals, frozen dinners, mac and cheese and frozen pizzas. A balanced diet should consist of whole foods, limiting processed foods.

5. Soups

Quick soup mixes and canned soups may contain MSG to enhance the savory flavors that buyers crave. Campbell’s is one such soup product that contains the controversial additive.

Other products manufactured for the convenience of quickly making soup also contain MSG, such as bullion cubes and dried soup mixes.  

6. Instant Noodle Products

Instant noodles are a savory staple for those making it to their next paycheck and college students alike. This convenience food is simple and filling, but the ingredients may also contain preservatives, refined carbohydrates and excess salt aside from MSG content.

Interestingly, Harvard University researchers found a 68% increased risk of metabolic syndrome among women who ate instant noodles at least twice a week. These results were not found in male participants, however, according to a 2018 study published in Nutrition Research and Practice.

Is MSG Harmful?

Excessive MSG consumption has been linked to blood sugar fluctuations, inflammation, obesity, nerve damage and behavioral concerns in animal studies. 

In humans, MSG consumption may contribute to weight gain, increasing satiety and food intake. This results in elevating your risk of metabolic syndrome, according to a 2017 review published in the International Journal of Food Properties. It’s better to consume less MSG rather than going overboard as this can significantly increase your risk of being overweight. 

Making sure your MSG intake is low is the best way to ensure that you maintain a balanced diet and keep risk factors for chronic disease low, as more human studies are needed in this area. On the nutrition label, ingredients are listed in order of predominance. 

Another consideration is that MSG is often included in processed foods, and if your diet is heavy on processed foods, this can adversely affect your health. Follow your doctor’s recommendations concerning eating a balanced and varied diet and always check in regarding any questions or concerns regarding additives.

Foods High in MSG

Foods High in MSG

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is added to many foods to enhance flavor. MSG is commonly found in canned foods, soups, fast foods, and processed foods.

While MSG is generally considered safe to consume by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there remains many uncertainties and disagreements about whether the ingredient is bad for your health. Therefore, the FDA requires that the ingredient is included on food labels.

MSG has been said to cause a number of minor health symptoms you should be aware of, however, additional research is needed to support direct links.

Why You Should Avoid MSG

Some studies have shown that MSG may contribute to a variety of conditions, including obesity, central nervous system disorder, and reproductive malfunctions, though more research is needed in these areas.

Symptoms that some have claimed occur after consuming MSG include:

  • Nausea
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Heart palpitations
  • Headache
  • Sweating or flushing
  • Numbness
  • Chest pain
  • Hives
  • Swelling of the throat

Additionally, people who have reported these symptoms after eating foods high in MSG usually claim these reactions to be mild or short-term.

Foods With MSG

MSG is used in many common foods available today in grocery stores and local restaurants. This ingredient, which is found in umami additives, aims to boost flavor to foods including snacks, soups, and noodles. Here are 5 foods that contain MSG to be aware of:

  1. Seasonings
    Because MSG is a flavor enhancer, it’s no surprise that it’s included in many seasonings that consumers put on meats and in stews. One common example is taco seasoning packets that are typically added to meat.
  2. Fast food
    MSG became well-known for its widespread use in Chinese dishes and other fast food meals, including fried chicken from fast food restaurants.
  3. Soups
    Another place you’ll find MSG is on the soup shelf at the grocery store. The additive is used to enhance their flavor and saltiness. For example, one of the most common soups – Chicken Noodle Soup from Campbell’s – contains MSG, in addition to 890 milligrams of sodium.
  4. Dressings and condiments
    Condiments like ketchup, mayonnaise, barbecue sauce, soy sauce, mustard, and salad dressings have been known to contain MSG to boost flavor.
  5. Chips
    Many types of chips and related snacks include MSG to enhance the salty, savory flavors that they’re known for.

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