How to Avoid MSG

MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is an excitotoxin that may cause brain and central nervous system damage. Many people are allergic to MSG and may suffer reactions like breathlessness, headaches and nausea, upon eating it. The FDA doesn’t require that food manufacturers who use MSG include it in the ingredients list, since it isn’t considered dangerous to humans, and many ingredients, like yeast extract and sodium caseinate, contain MSG, making it hard to tell which foods to avoid. Here’s a guide to how you can avoid eating monosodium glutamate.

Know What Additives to Avoid

Many food additives contain MSG, but since manufacturers aren’t required to tell you when their products contain MSG, it’s your responsibility to look out for products that contain any of the following:

  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • Calcium caseinate
  • Yeast extract
  • Autolyzed yeast
  • Plant protein extract
  • Hydrolyzed protein
  • Hydrolized plant protein
  • Sodium caseinate
  • Hydrolyzed oat flour

Many manufacturers use these terms in their ingredients list to avoid listing MSG as an ingredient.

Avoid Snack Foods, Dips, Seasonings, Dressings and Sauces

If you like to eat dips, seasoning salts, salad dressings and sauces, make them at home yourself from scratch. Many commercially prepared sauces, dips and dressings contain MSG. Some soy sauces, fish sauces, seasoning salts, and salad dressings contain MSG, as do some mayonnaise, ketchup, mustard, and many sweeteners like Nutrasweet and refined brown and white sugars. Some processed cheeses, flavored potato chips and pretzels, and cheese flavored snack foods contain MSG.

Avoid Fast Foods

Fast food restaurants like McDonald’s and Burger King regularly use MSG in their sandwiches and other products. Many popular chain restaurants also use MSG, if often unknowingly, because the food additive appears in their sauces and seasonings. Avoid fast food restaurants or check the company’s allergy information to find out which foods are MSG free. When dining out, ask your server for an MSG free option.

Avoid Processed Foods

Many processed foods, including frozen dinners, pizzas, vegetables and pot pies contain MSG. Some processed and canned meats, including cold cuts and hot dogs, contain MSG. Eat fresh meats instead.


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