Cochise College           Student Papers in Geology

Geology Home Page                   physical geology  historical geology  planetary  gems           

Roger Weller, geology instructor

Monosodium Glutamate
by Francova Douyon
Physical Geology
Spring 2012


Is Monosodium Glutamate a Valuable Part of Our Nutrition?

Many people will agree that a correlation lies between monosodium glutamate and Asian cuisine. Monosodium glutamate, known to most as “MSG,” is often referred to as “Chinese Food Syndrome.”  In fact, many Asian restaurants add monosodium glutamate to their food; however, this flavor enhancer is not limited solely to Chinese food because it is found in many fast foods, processed foods, and canned foods. What is monosodium glutamate? MSG is a salt enhancer intended to boost the natural flavor of the food while encouraging consumers to eat more of these foods.  MSG is extracted from natural foods such as wheat gluten, corn, molasses, and beet sugar that go through fermentation.  MSG is often present in products that have listed ingredients such as amino acids, protein, or hydrolyzed plants or vegetables. Due to the fact that MSG is derived from natural foods, the Food and Drug Administration categorizes MSG as food safe, thus allowing food manufacturers to include unlimited amounts of MSG in their food as long as it is listed on their label. Researchers are concerned that excessive consumption of MSG may promote obesity, worsen pre-existing medical conditions, and eventually create complications for healthy individuals.

Magic Ingredients

"Bat's wing, eye of newt, spider legs, monosodium glutamate,......."

 MSG is often combined with salt, which increase sodium intake.

As a result, the body may retain water, thus causing weight gain for some individuals.  MSG intake also stimulates the pancreas causing it to augment its insulin secretion which causes obesity in many people. According to certified internist Dr. Robin Miller, “A recent study from China found that those who ate the most MSG were 30 percent heavier than those who ate the least.” Companies often add MSG in their food to reduce their production costs.  In doing so, they provide lower quality food with fewer nutrients and more fat. Kentucky Fried Chicken is an example of fast foods, high in fat, low in nutrients, and rich in MSG. Cheetos is also a very popular snack among kids that contains MSG, and is thus high in sodium and fat content. While food manufacturers reduce their production costs by adding MSG to almost everything we eat, they also create a co-dependency among consumers. Since the foods are very addictive, they motivate consumers to desire them more than healthy food.  This may be the reason many people label MSG as the “Nicotine of Food” because the flavors enchant our pallet.





            While MSG may cause weight gain in some, it can also be detrimental to one’s health.  Patients with high blood pressure are discouraged against consuming products with MSG. Continuous consumption may cause their blood pressure to rise and provoke a stroke.  Furthermore, because MSG has the tendency to cause fluid retention, patients sensitive to sodium may experience kidney failure.

            Even people in good health get side effects and experience some sensitivity to MSG. Some people experience facial pressures, severe headaches, and even chest pain as soon as they taste foods with MSG. Consequently, long term use of MSG can eventually accelerate the activity of brain cells causing trauma to the brain.  Fueling the brain so much can provoke a stroke, brain tumors, Alzheimer’s, and multiple sclerosis. At the same time, it can also affect the eyes and deteriorate the vision.

            Although many will agree that MSG is a problematic addition to our foods, nevertheless food manufacturers will continue to add it to most foods, sometimes labeling it as MSG, other times, using hidden additives such as soy protein, whey protein, or natural chicken or beef flavoring. Ultimately, we need to accept that this multi-billion dollar industry is not going away.  Parents have the responsibility to choose healthier food for their children in order to prevent obesity and other diseases that is caused by frequent consumption of MSG.

Ingredients that indicate that food has MSG:

Autolyzed plant protein


Yeast extract

Autolyzed yeast


Yeast Food or nutrient

Calcium caseinate

Glutamic acid

Sodium caseinate

Hydrolyzed plant protein

Hydrolyzed vegetable protein

Monopotassium glutamate

Textured protein

Yeast extract

Yeast food or nutrient


 Hidden MSG additives:

Malt extract


Natural Chicken  or Beef Flavoring


Broth seasoning


Enzyme modified

Whey protein/Soy protein

 Maltodextrin Soy sauce extract

Carrageenan Soy sauce

Pectin any protein  Fortified




After researching on MSG, I decided to visit a grocery store and read the labels of some products to determine which ones had MSG.



Ramen noodles


Easy Mac

Hidden Valley ranch Salad dressings

Frito Lays sour cream

Progresso soup

French’s Worcestershire sauce

Betty Croker instant Pasta













Work cited

Blaylock, Russell. "Excitotoxins in Your Diet: How They Affect Your Health." Nurses World Magazine. N.p., April-May 2007. Web. 30 Mar. 2012.

Heyer, B. R., C. C. Taylor-Burds, L. H. Tran, and E. R. Delay. "Monosodium Glutamate and Sweet Taste: Generalization of Conditioned Taste Aversion between Glutamate and Sweet Stimuli in Rats." Chemical Senses. Oxford University Press, 23 July 2003. Web. 30 Mar. 2012.

Mercola, Joseph. "MSG: Is This Silent Killer Lurking in Your Kitchen Cabinets?" Organic Consumers Association. Organic Consumers Association, 21 Apr. 2009. Web. 20 Mar. 2012.

“What Foods to Avoid?” Msgtruth.Org. Msgtruth.Org, 13 Nov. 2007. Web. 30 Mar. 2012.

Zeratsky, Katherine. "What Is MSG? Is It Bad for You?" Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation, 3 Apr. 2012. Web. 18 Apr. 2012.