MSG

MSG should be used to decrease sodium intake: study

Most people, particularly Americans, consume far too much sodium. Diets that are too high in sodium have been linked to a number of health issues. This is mostly owing to sodium’s effect on blood pressure: too much sodium raises blood pressure, which in turn increases a person’s risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and heart failure, among other serious ailments.

New research published in MDPI has found that there may be safe—or at least safer—ways to substitute for dietary sodium. Analyzing data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, the study concluded that using glutamates like monosodium glutamate (MSG) can reduce sodium in the food supply by up to 7-8 percent.

“Most of our sodium intake comes from restaurant meals and packaged foods,” said Dr. Taylor C. Wallace, Adjunct Professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at George Mason University and lead researcher in the study, according to EurekAlert!. “MSG can be used to reduce sodium in these foods without a taste trade-off. MSG contains about 12 percent sodium, which is two-thirds less than that contained in table salt, and data shows a 25-40 percent reduction in sodium is possible in specific product categories when MSG is substituted for some salt.

“As Americans begin to understand that MSG is completely safe, I think we’ll see a shift toward using the ingredient as a replacement for some salt to improve health outcomes.”

As EurekAlert! reports, the study’s findings jibe with those from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, whose 2019 Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium report also recommended MSG as safe alternative to salt.

Here is how the study itself concludes:

“Current sodium intakes in the United States remain high and unchanged from previous NHANES cycles, exceeding public health recommendations. The addition of glutamates to certain savory food categories has the potential to help reduce the population’s intake of sodium by approximately 3.0%, and to reduce the intake by 7.3% among consumers of the product categories in which sodium chloride could be substituted for by glutamates.

“While reducing the amount of sodium among certain food groups may show modest effects on intakes across the adult population, it may have a large effect on those who consume those types of products.”

So … the main takeaway? Eat as much Chinese take-out as you like.