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Is MSG bad for you? © Getty Images

Is MSG bad for you?

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Monosodium glutamate gets a bad rep, and is even blamed for 'Chinese restaurant syndrome', but this is perhaps a little unfair.

Asked by: Erica Evans, Worthing


MSG, or monosodium glutamate, certainly has a bad reputation, conjuring up images of takeaways and highly processed foods. But this ‘umami’ flavour enhancer – first extracted from seaweed in 1908 – contains only sodium (one of the ingredients of common table salt) and glutamic acid, which is naturally found in foods such as mushrooms, tomatoes and Parmesan cheese.

A popular belief is that MSG can cause headaches and a generally ‘icky’ feeling known as ‘Chinese restaurant syndrome’. But this is a myth: scientists have found no evidence linking typical MSG amounts to headaches, or any other health problems for that matter. Just like salt, a sensible amount is perfectly safe, and tasty too.

Does the body need salt? © Getty


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Giles is a geneticist at the University of Cambridge


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