Tips on Avoiding MSG


Monosodium glutamate ( MSG) is used in a lot of processed foods to add flavor.  It is a food additive that should be avoided. MSG is an excitotoxin.  What does that mean?   That means that it can excite your cells to the point that they get damaged.  Damage to cells can lead to cancer.  Cell damage can also lead to other degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s.  Other adverse reactions to MSG can include, headaches, dizziness, diarrhea, mood swings and heart palpitations.  Another scary thing about MSG is that it can be hidden in certain ingredients.  So a processed food can be labeled no MSG, but it could in fact, contain MSG.  Here are some terms to look for:

Yeast extract
Anything “hydrolyzed”
Autolyzed yeast
Soy protein isolate
Whey protein isolate
Calcium or sodium caseinate
Textured protein

If you have a sensitivity to MSG you should also know that there are some ingredients that can produce MSG.  Here are some of those:

Citric acid
Natural flavors
Malt extract

MSG is mostly found in soups, broth, snack foods, veggie burgers, frozen meals and even baby food.  Always make sure you read labels on anything you buy.  It takes a bit more time, but it is worth it in the long run.

Join more than 35,000 subscribers and start gettiing free recipes direct to your inbox!

14 thoughts to “Tips on Avoiding MSG”

  1. Melissa, First of all, I'm thankful for and loving your blog (and recipes). This particular blog is interesting to me because I've recently found a trigger to my epilepsy which started when I was 14 ( I was predisposed) and had been exceptionally well controlled, until about 2 years ago. We couldn't figure out why I was having break through seizure activity. New meds were tried. Talk of brain surgery was being done (which I was not willing to agree to, fyi). I went to NeuroLabs and there the extra sensitive equipment figured out the exact nature of my seizures which was great so that they could get particular meds that target that kind of seizure (which are not surgery candidate kinds). If I have to take something, it's good to be on the best stuff. But, I was still having break throughs. A friend of mine from a writing group who is a film maker too, and happens to have epilepsy (along with millions of others of people) has been in the process of figuring out what was triggering hers. Hers were more severe in frequency than mine. And she came across information regarding diet--mainly MSG and ALL of the foods that encompasses. So, she wrote about it in book format really naming all the culprit ingredients. She has improved greatly by eliminating such things. From this, I realized what my trigger was--- I had been drinking 2 non-GMO soy protein shakes daily. Sounds healthy, with fresh fruit in them and such. But, some of those ingredients were on the list. So I stopped entirely. I stopped all soy, actually (except right out of the pod edamame) and I'm back to where I used to be in my seizure pattern (which is really good in comparison to others). Just in case others want the link because it helps for SO MANY health issues, it's a good piece. No fluff. She offers a book or a downloadable form. She just wants people to have the information that took her so long to find. Her name is Tiffany and I told her to check out your site. She'll love it! Thanks again!
    1. Lisa, I am epileptic as well. I have seizures from a head injury at age five. They are controlled with medication. It's scary that there are more people like you who have triggers to these MSG sources. I am glad you found your trigger and that you now have the knowledge on what terms to look for.
      1. There are a world of us out there! Tiffany and her husband are making a film about epilepsy since there is so little awareness (not to mention fundraising and research) on the subject. It is scary how much is put in food these days that is "hidden" (unless you really know what to look for--even then it's tricky) that can be a trigger. I was just glad I found what caused the unusual flare up. Now it's back to mild and controlled with meds. But I still need to keep cleaning out my food supply for other hidden sources as well. Your recipes and tips are helping, as are Tiffany's and some other friends knowledgeable in the area.
  2. I was so excited to see that Trader Joe's started carrying silken tofu, until I saw that had added soy protein isolate. Why??? So annoyed!!
    1. That is frustrating. Do you have a Sprout's, Whole Foods or Natural Grocers near you? I think the one I get does not contain it. I have none in my house to check right now. I rarely use the silken kind. Usually just for desserts.
      1. Yes, we have Sprouts, I was just trying to not have to go to 5 different stores per week! :) I think the most amazing thing ever was when I discovered that you can buy MSG in a shaker for the table! Crazy!
  3. Omg! Thank you so much for posting this! Honestly had no idea some of them could be MSG, especially the protein ones which sound so wholesome! Guess not!!
    1. You are welcome! I was shocked myself! I used to eat the veggie burgers weekly before I started doing research. Makes me mad to think I at all that junk when I was pregnant with my girls.
  4. Thanks so much for posting this. I get really bad migraines from MSG so I try to avoid it. I knew about some of the items you listed but not all of them. I will add them to the list of the items I look for on labels. Since moving to a whole foods diet I find it easier to avoid MSG but still it is in some healthy items. It's especially hard when we are out and my husband wants to grab a quick bit to eat. We can't just eat anywhere because I know I will have a headache for days afterwards if we do.
    1. You are welcome. I know that it's very sad there are not many choices when eating out. Often, we will just grab something in Whole Foods salad bar when we are out. After we read all the ingredients of course. It's nice that they post them.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *