Thanis Lim

All Rounder Chef and Food Journalist

A good look at MSG

There's a saying, if MSG is really bad for you, why isn't everyone in Asia getting headaches?,,1522368,00.html

I stumbled onto this article and found it really interesting. I'll highlight the interesting bits.

The anti-additive movement (check out the excellent and informative admits that 'natural' and 'industrially produced' glutamate are chemically the same, and treated by the body similarly. So why doesn't anyone ever complain of a headache or hyperactivity after a four cheese and tomato pizza (where there's easily as much glutamate as in an MSG-enhanced chicken chow mein)?
MSG actually occur naturally in many foods such as parmesan cheese and ripe tomatoes. Vegemite or Marmite contains a lot of MSG as well even when it's naturally fermented yeast extract.

My friend Nic came round. He told me about a Japanese restaurant he'd been to that gave him headaches and a 'weird tingling in the cheeks' - until he told them to stop with the MSG. Then he was fine, he said. I nodded and I served him two tomato and chive salads; both were made using the very same ingredients but I told him one plate of tomatoes was 'organic', the other 'factory-farmed'. The organic tomatoes were far better, we agreed. These, of course, were the tomatoes doused with mono sodium glutamate.

Then we ate mascarpone, parma ham and tomato pizza. Nic felt fine. So did I. I had ingested, I reckoned, a good six grams of MSG over the day, and probably the same again in free glutamate from the food - the equivalent of eating two 250g jars of Marmite.
This shows that MSG should not be the main cause of the problems.

Everything we eat SHOULD be in moderation. Even if you drink too much soy milk, it's actually not healthy. Moderation is the key.


  1. Why doesn't everyone in Asia have a headache? Maybe this is a reason: Rice.

    "The effects of MSG may be minimized or avoided by consuming at least one cup of a complex carbohydrate, such as rice or pasta, as part of the meal...", researchers say.

    Well, I don´t know.
    MSG goes under many other names
    monopotassium glutamate
    glutamic acid
    autolyzed yeast extract
    calcium caseinate
    sodium caseinate
    E621 (E620-625 are all glutamates)
    Gourmet Powder....

  2. Hmm ... funny though - I am sure a lot of Americans take pasta or rice too.

    But yeah - I'll prefer to make stock to give the flavour but if I'm in a rush - msg is a good alternative. Not that I'll use it often ;)