How often does your tongue have an upper hand over your stomach? Often it happens that you head towards a restaurant for some particular dishes.
You know that the food may not be quite compatible with your digestive system and health, and yet you fail to restrain your desires to have something spicy and delicious. Some of the people fall victim to some of the diseases due to their inability to control their desire to quench the thirst of their tongue. If you are a food lover, you may certainly be familiar with MSG.
What is MSG?
One of the widely used artificial flavors in the food industry and particularly in Asian food items, MSG today reins many tongues across the world.
You may have occasionally heard the conflicting views about MSG and it is better to clear the matters as food is your lifeline.
A Guide to Monosodium Glutamate
MSG, also known as Monosodium Glutamate was discovered by Tokyo University professor Kikunae Ikeda. It was he who named this as Monosodium Glutamate and under this name the patent was submitted for the production.
As aji-no-moto, its commercial production was first started by Suzuki brothers. Today, it is used in various food items as an additive. It can be suitably mixed with vegetables, meat, poultry, soups, marinades, sauces and several other food items.
For more than a century it has been in use in seasoning the food items, but its commercial use started after Suzuki brothers began its production at a commercial level.
Is MSG available in its natural form in foods?
Derived from an amino acid known as glutamate, MSG is not only available in its artificial form but also, it has its natural existence in many of the food items.
Since centuries, the people have been consuming MSG in its natural form. Seaweed broth is one of the food sources that are very rich in MSG. Also in parmesan cheese (aged), soybean products that are fermented and mushrooms, etc. contain MSG naturally in them.
Is MSG a preservative or a taste enhancer?
Many of the people get confused. Is MSG a preservative? Well, it is neither a meat tenderizer nor a preservative. It does not play any role in preserving any food item.
What it does is that it adds flavor to the food. It is very much used as a taste enhancer.
If added into the food items, the taste of the food becomes very pleasant, and this is the reason many food enterprises dealing with food industry use it extensively.
Technically speaking, the pure MSG does not contain the pleasant taste in itself. It achieves the quality of pleasantness in taste when it is combined or amalgamated with a consonant savor smell. Furthermore, the pleasantness of the taste depends upon its accurate concentration. If the amount of MSG is in excess, its taste becomes unpleasant to the tongue.
How does MSG taste?
How is the taste of MSG? Is it sour, sweet, salty or bitter? Well, MSG is known to provide additional taste.
It is not bitter or sweet; neither is it salty or sour. Its taste is described to be meaty, savory or earthy.
There is a specific word called ‘umami’ when it comes to naming the taste of MSG. It is considered to be as the fifth taste in additions to salty, sweet, bitter and sour.
Glutamates are the source of this fifth flavor named umami, and glutamic acid comes in the glutamates compounds.
Just as the receptor in the brain receives the sense of the tastes of salty, bitter, sweet and sour, it also senses the umami taste.
Use of MSG in packaged food
In many of the packaged food items, MSG is used. As MSG can be mixed easily with several food items of vegetables, meat, poultry, milk, etc.; it is conveniently used as a tongue trickster by many of the companies dealing with food processing and production.
The food industries find it quite beneficial as it enhances the taste and makes the food popular among masses.
MSG in Cooking
In several cuisines and particularly in Asian cuisines, the use of MSG during cooking is very much prevalent and popular. If you visit any grocery stores and particularly the ones dealing in Asian cuisines, you can easily find MSG as one of the main items there.
MSG in crystalline white powder form is not only fascinating in its looks but also, it is good at escalating the taste of the food. This MSG powder is sprinkled on the food items while preparing.
But it must be worth remembering that the amount of the MSG sprinkled in the food items while cooking should be accurate. An excess amount of MSG may turn the taste as unpleasant. Experience and judgment in sprinkling or mixing MSG is, therefore, crucial to bring about the enhanced taste.
MSG in salad preparation
MSG is also very much used in the preparation of the salad. Sprinkling the white crystalline powder of MSG in a salad in the right amount can easily enhance the pleasantness of the taste and smell.
One of the benefits of using MSG is that you can reduce the amount of salt intake.
Even if you reduce the use of salt about 30% in a food item; MSG will maintain and enhance the taste without making you feel the insufficiency of salt.
Are there any side effects of MSG intake?
Food and Drug Administration of the United States of America considers MSG as ‘GRAS or Generally Recognized as a Safe.
Headache, flushing, sweating, facial pressure, tingling and burning in the face, and numbness, etc. are considered to be the symptoms of side effects of MSG.
Also, chest pain, nausea and weakness are known as the symptoms of side effects of MSG. Whether MSG directly causes any disease of the disorder is unclear yet but is advisable that its intake is kept under control.
Monosodium Glutamate or MSG is one of the forms of amino acid that is very essential for the proper functioning of the body, but care must be taken as its taste is enslaving and you may fall victim to obesity.
Natural glutamate can cause problems in certain conditions in the body, and the effects of manufactured glutamate cannot be ruled out. Excess of glutamate in the body changes into GABA, and it could prove to be addictive.
How to identify the presence of MSG in food items?
Does a food item contain MSG in it? How can you identify whether a particular food item has MSG?
As per FDA, it is required for the food companies to specify the addition of MSG in the packaged food items in the list of its ingredients. But there are certain ingredients that naturally contain food items and very often it becomes difficult to know the presence of MSG in food.
You can always enjoy the pleasant flavor enhanced by MSG, but care must be taken that it is not in excess. Again, no definite evidence have been found by the researchers about the side effects of MSG and you needn’t worry much, but it is wise to draw some lines.
But also the researchers have admitted its short-term reactions in a certain percentage of people, and if you ever sense its side effects in your body, you must make a meticulous decision before consuming food with MSG in it.
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