Most likely, you have repeatedly met the designation of monosodium glutamate content on food packages. In another way, it is called a flavor enhancer (food additive E621). So is it an absolute evil, or is it still a valid ingredient? Let’s figure it out.
Monosodium glutamate is a salt of glutamic acid. The human body can synthesize this acid on its own, and therefore there is no special need to get it from food. However, monosodium glutamate is often found in ready-made food (convenience foods): this is due to its specific taste.
For example, residents of the Asian region are big fans of this additive (umami). It is very common to buy a large package of monosodium glutamate here; it is added to food as often as salt or pepper. In Europe, E621 is found in ready-made products such as sausages, sausages or instant noodles.
Monosodium glutamate is a very controversial component, the effect of which on the body is being actively studied by scientists. Let’s see if there is scientific evidence that it is seriously harmful to health.
Does glutamate harm the brain
No. Although one of the main “accusations” brought against glutamate is its effect on the functioning of the brain. It is believed that the use of this dietary supplement causes headaches, problems with memory and thinking, and other problems.
The fact is that glutamic acid can bind to receptors in the brain and translate them into an active state. Therefore, it has been suggested that food rich in glutamate can behave in exactly the same way: eaten sausage, for example, supposedly should cause headaches and increase anxiety.
Something similar was really observed, but not in humans, but in mice, which were injected into the body with huge doses of a taste enhancer – from this, the animals really had neurological problems.
In order to achieve a similar effect in humans, you need to eat a lot of glutamate – about 500 times more than the norm, while the daily norm is 3 g. This is quite difficult to do, but even if it works out, not all of the supplement will get to the neurons of the brain, most of it will be excreted along with the urine.
Does glutamate cause weight gain?
Another popular argument against the flavor enhancer is that MSG causes obesity. Here, scientists also conducted a scientific study: it turned out that people who ate a lot of foods with monosodium glutamate actually gained weight. But they, in principle, did not eat the healthiest food and consumed more calories than they should have – such a lifestyle naturally led to a set of extra pounds. Monosodium glutamate was not the main “pest” here.
Does glutamate cause cancer
The researchers also failed to find evidence that monosodium glutamate causes cancer. They looked at scientific articles published since the 1960s and found little evidence that a taste enhancer increases the likelihood of cancer.
Is it okay for everyone to use glutamate
No. And although it was not possible to prove that monosodium glutamate causes some serious health problems, it should only be eaten in quantities that do not exceed the permissible norm.
No one has canceled a possible allergy to this component, and therefore it is imperative to monitor the reaction to food, especially one that contains it in large quantities. Signs of an allergy or glutamate intolerance include a rash, swelling, headaches, and even asthmatic attacks.
There is no need to demonize this flavor enhancer, but it is also not worth eating in large quantities. Pay close attention to how you feel when you eat MSG foods. If you experience unpleasant symptoms, take an antihistamine or see your doctor.