Thursday, June 2, 2011

MSG - What is it?!

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

MSG stands for monosodium glutamate and is a sodium salt that is used in certain dishes to enhance the flavor of the food.  You can go here to learn all of the science behind MSG, such as its chemical composition, how it's made, etc, etc....

We choose not to eat foods with MSG in it because my DH (dear husband) and I both get massive headaches when we ingest any food that has it as an ingredient.  Case in point, when I was about 9 years old, I ate a LOT of Nacho Cheese Doritos at a family party and had the worst headache of my life (they were good going down, but I paid the price later!)  Now, it may have been partly due to the fact that I ate so many of those tasty Doritos, but after trial and error, my mom found a direct correlation between me eating MSG and getting headaches shortly thereafter.  

Many research studies have been done and there is no 'conclusive' evidence that MSG is bad for you or causes these symptoms in the majority of the population, but some people definitely have a sensitivity to it and we are two of them.  Because of this reason, we don't eat it and we definitely don't let our kids eat it!! 

Following are foods that are MSG offenders (very high likely hood that they contain MSG):
  • Prepared stocks often known as stock cubes or bouillon cubes
  • Condiments such as BBQ sauce and salad dressings
  • Canned, frozen or dried prepared food
  • Common snack foods such as flavored beef jerky, flavored potato chips (Doritos!!!) and flavored tortilla chips.
  • Dry seasoning/soup mixtures
If you're thinking, "OK,  yeah I have at least one of those foods from EACH category in my pantry right now!!  Forget you lady, I can't give that stuff up...."  then I have good news for YOU!  Each and every  category above has at least one if not MANY alternatives you can use.  I plan on doing many posts about substitutions, but I will give you an easy one right now....

MSG laden chips
(picture courtesy of Google) 
VS.        MSG Free chips (picture courtesy of Google).

Now personally I LOVE the Trader Joe's Spicy Tortilla Chips, but I couldn't find a photo of them online.  The Tostitos are a great and simple switch to start with.  Also, something I love about Tostitos website is it gives you a list of all their chips, with labels for each stating whether or not they are free from gluten, MSG, casein, lactose, onion, trans fat or additives, as well as whether or not they are Kosher.  You can check out that information here.

So, if you seem to have inexplicable headaches that correlate with eating some of the items listed above, I'd check to see if they have MSG in them.  If they do, there are many easy substitutes that you can use that will eliminate the MSG from the foods you eat.  If you don't have an MSG sensitivity, it still wouldn't hurt to cut out this unnecessary additive from  your diet!  Keep posted for more easy swaps from The Additive Free Foodie!!!                    

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