Sure, MSG (monosodium glutamate) makes even bland food taste better. And you probably consume more of it than you think. You can find it (or its variant gluamate) in processed foods ranging from Doritos to ranch dressing. But could this ingredient be expanding your waistline, regardless of your total calorie intake?
New research from China says yes. In fact, of the study participants, those who ate the most MSG were three times more likely to be overweight than those who ate no MSG. The study was controlled for physical activity and total calorie intake, and still MSG proved to be an overwhelming culprit for extra weight. Previous research had suggested MSG’s role in nerve damage, and some researchers claim it may worsen the progression of neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.
Knowing most shoppers would be wary of picking up something labeled with MSG, certain food manufactuers try to hide the ingredient’s presence under words like glutamate, hydrolyzed protein, calcium casinate and yeast extract, all which contain MSG. Even vague labels like natural flavors may masquerade its presence. (Click here for a full list of alert words.) And unlike trans fats, which are banned from foods labeled organic, MSG can be found in organic products (usually through the form of yeast protein).
I don’t doubt that MSG and its variants sneak into my diet once in awhile, but now I’m going to be even more diligent about reading labels and banishing it from my food for good.
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