"We use no MSG!"
You've probably seen a banner with those words plastered somewhere inside most of the Asian restaurants you've visited in your life. You might have read the phrase and promptly thought to yourself, "Oh, thank goodness!" or turned to your friends and exclaimed, "See?! This place is legit!"
But fun fact: MSG actually isn't bad for you. Like, at all.
MSG, aka monosodium glutamate, got a bad rap after a medical journal published a letter to the editor in 1968 in which the author said he experienced palpitations, weakness, and numbness after consuming alcohol, sodium, and MSG at a Chinese restaurant. But since then, extensive research has found no causal relationship between MSG and symptoms like headache and nausea, and has actually supported MSG's safety in everyday use, including in infants and children. Which makes sense, since it's literally just sodium (which is, of course, found in salt) and glutamate (which provides the savory flavor in foods like mushrooms, tomatoes, salmon, and more).
Still not convinced you should sprinkle it over your next meal? Well, many medical professionals, like Stacey Mattinson, MS, RDN, LD, recommend it over salt.
"MSG has two-thirds less sodium than table salt," says Mattinson. "Given the role of sodium in the development of hypertension and its rampancy in the US with one in three adults having high blood pressure, using MSG in the kitchen could significantly help cut sodium in diets of Americans."
Okay. So not only is MSG not detrimental to your health, but it's actually better for you than salt! Oh, and Mattinson has even more good news: this stuff is pretty dang tasty!
"Taste-wise, oy!" she says. "MSG is a serious umami flavor-builder, developing richness and depth that may not otherwise be achieved."
Bottom line? MSG is fine. Go ahead and use it in your cooking. It's only a matter of time before the seasoning becomes the next "it" product – so stock up!