Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a common food enhancer that tastes like umami. We all know that taste includes four categories: Bitter, sour, salty, and sweet. Well, MSG is said to have a fifth unique taste known as umami and has a savory flavor of the meat.
Manufacturers use MSG to improve that umami flavor, but its consumption turned out to have negative side effects (even in small quantities).
MSG can be mostly found in processed foods and is very difficult to avoid unless the packaging states that the item contains no MSG, but even then, other forms of manufactured free glutamic acid can still be used in these foods.
In fact, synthetically produced glutamates might have various names but they all basically are MSG. Common MSG-related glutamates include glutamic acid, yeast extract, protein concentrates, autolyzed yeasts, and hydrolyzed proteins, which can be found in many common foods.
According to a study published in Life Science and other health pages, young rats that were given MSG were more prone to developing depression and anxiety. So what are the common grocery store foods that contain lurking MSG?
1. Salad Dressings
As an alternative to MSG, manufacturers use yeast extract, which also consists of free glutamate. You’ve probably never heard of Dr. Russell Blaylock, the author of the book Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills.
Blaycock lists in his book the foods containing hidden MSG that people need to watch out for, including soy milk, which had natural elevated content of glutamate in addition to hydrolyzed vegetable protein.
If you like to eat Hidden Valley Ranch dressing, then you should know that it contains MSG. Moreover, Ken’s Steakhouse Buttermilk contains monosodium glutamate as well.
Other popular salad dressings which contain hidden MSG include Wishbone salad dressing (contains yeast extracts) and Clear Value salad dressing (contains torula yeast).
2. Vegan Breakfast Sausage
Torula, or Candida utilis, is a kind of yeast that has become a popular food additive in vegan and vegetarian foods. Torula yeast offers beef an extra meaty and savory flavor, and it’s also included in vegetarian burgers and meatless food products.
In fact, this food additive is made through growing yeast in an environment in which it’s fed minerals and sugars from wood or molasses, then, after the primary harvesting, the yeast is cleaned and dried.
Have you ever eaten Field Roast’s Apple Maple Breakfast Sausages? They contain yeast extract and a flavor with torula yeast, in addition to using naturally flavored yeast extract, which is basically just another term for MSG.
Plenty of chips brands include hidden MSG into their products. A few examples are Kettle Brand chips, which use torula yeast in their products, Cheez-It baked snack crackers which contain autolyzed yeast extract and MSG, and Goldfish baked snack crackers which are made with autolyzed yeast, another term for MSG. Chips lovers must be extremely careful because it turned out that it’s difficult to find chips with no MSG.
4. Kids Food
Plum Organics, which belongs to the Campbell Soup Company, was accused of deceptive marketing due to labeling practices in 2015. Plum Organics promoted healthy items for kids and babies, but the most outstanding ingredient in some of their products is just water.
Moreover, the soups specifically made for kids contain hidden MSGs. For instance, their Plum Organics chicken fiesta soup, chicken noodle soup for children, and Plum Organics Tomato meatball soup, all contain yeast extract. Protect the health of your kids by avoiding these products or any product from a suspicious brand.
5. Tofu Products
MSG is hiding behind the name natural smoke flavor in Lightlife’s Tofu Pops Veggie Hot Dogs. This tofu product also contains yeast extract. MSG consumption causes many health problems, especially in sensitive people.
Some individuals report experiencing chest pain, numbness, sweating, and headache after eating foods containing MSG. To protect you health, you should always check labels and pay close attention to ingredients, particularly if you are sensitive to certain food additives or ingredients.
Chicken broth from Safeway contains MSG as the 4th main ingredient in the product. Also, the low sodium version of Simply Nature’s Organic Chicken Broth contains yeast extract. Moreover, people who are especially sensitive to glutamine should avoid bone broth.
In fact, the glutamine levels of broth rise with cooking time, and the same thing happens to all other amino acids. So long cooking time of bone broth is richer in nutrients and is not recommended for those who can’t tolerate it.
You’re probably wondering how it’s even possible to sneak MSG into nuts! Well, everything is possible when it comes to companies that are trying to enhance their products’ flavor.
Blue Diamond Almonds’ new Sriracha Flavored Almonds, as well as their Habanero BBQ Almonds, contain yeast extract, and Blue Diamond’s Jalapeno Smokehouse Almonds contain torula yeast.
To avoid health problems, make sure to read the labels of any flavored almonds carefully, as many of these types of products include lurking MSG.
8. Frozen Dinners
Don’t let frozen dinners fool you, not even the ones with names like Lean Cuisine which may sound healthy because they contain hidden MSGs. In Lean Cuisine’s Sesame Chicken frozen dinner, there is autolyzed yeast extract as one of the primary components after salt and fructose.
Also, they include yeast extract into their Lemon Pepper Fish frozen dinner as well. Stouffer’s lasagna, which is among the company’s most sold frozen food products, also contains autolyzed yeast extract in its sauce.
9. Bacon Bits
Several brands selling bacon-flavored bits use MSG in their products. Bacon bits from Safeway contain autolyzed yeast, McCormick’s Bac’n Pieces bacon-flavored bits consist of yeast extract and disodium guanylate, which is a flavor enhancer often used in conjunction with MSG, and Bac-O’s bacon-flavored bits contain hydrolyzed vegetable protein (another name for MSG).
For proper nutritional health, you need to always check the ingredient list on your purchased food products.
10. Veggie Burgers and Nuggets
Eating a MorningStar Farms Grillers California Turk’y Burger or a Gardenburger Portabella Veggie Burger simply means consuming torula yeast. These veggie burgers both contain torula yeast, while MorningStar Farms Chik’n Nuggets consist of yeast extract and autolyzed yeast extract.
To conclude, although several food brands are labeling products as No MSG, they still use other components that are chemically very similar to this flavor enhancer.
Such companies use the label on foods that contain ingredients like yeast extract, torula yeast, and hydrolyzed vegetable protein that are, according to experts, chemically the exact same MSG when dissolved in water. Be extremely careful about your food products’ ingredients next time you hit the grocery store.
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