Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Just When You Think It's MSG-Free

I was a picky eater when I was small, but instant noodles excites me. They are a treat for me. I would finish a bowl so quickly and lick all the remaining sauce until they were completely gone. I couldn't get enough of them. They just tasted so good. As good as they are, we all know that instant noodles, like many other processed foods, contain Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) - a dangerous neurotoxic substance that has been chemically processed to enhance flavors in foods. It is one that causes a wide range of reactions in our body from minor headaches to brain damage and hyperactivity in children. 

Food manufacturers are aware that we are avoiding foods that contain MSG, hence we see many foods and restaurants with "No MSG" labels. But do you know there are more than forty different "names" for MSG in your food labels? Anything with the words "yeast extract," "hydrolyzed," "seasoning," "protein," "... glutamate" - they are all MSG. I'm not getting into the details of how MSG originated but you can read here for a more comprehensive list of MSG labels and learn more about the history of MSG here. Spices, seasonings, and sauces may also contain MSG, so be mindful before you use them. 

What Does It Mean For Me?

I used to add "no added MSG" K (Ikan Bilis) powder to my postnatal soups everyday after I gave birth to Elin without knowing that it contains yeast extract (which is basically MSG). How I wish I knew about this earlier and the quality of my breast milk would have be better for her and surely my body would have been better without MSG. To say the least, I feel cheated about MSG labeling. Food manufacturers disguise it so well, who would have known. I tried so hard to refrain from eating anything with MSG including not eating instant noodles the moment I found out I was pregnant until now. At least I know better now and it's the more important that I read food labels!

Natural MSG Alternatives

Any Alternatives to MSG to make our food savory? Yes! And you bet I will be adding them to my home cooking going forward:

- Seaweed. Specifically kombu (kelp). It is the base of many savory Japanese soups. And it is a good source of iodine too!

- Mushrooms. No wonder restaurants serve steak with mushroom sauce and my family loves to add shitake mushrooms to their foods.

- Parmesan Cheese. Add this to pastas (Yum!)
- Tomatoes
- Anchovies
- Fish Sauce. It is fermented fish (typically anchovies) with sea salt and water. I am glad there is at least one cooking sauce that is free of MSG and other chemicals.

"Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul." - 3 John 1:2

Did you know that MSG has many different "names" for it? Would you still buy them now that you know?

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.


  1. I am allergic to MSG, Vic ... I will have migraine if I eat something with MSG, and the migraine will last for at least 10 hours or even more. I will try Kombu. Thanks for the helpful information :)

  2. i'm the user of the non-MSG, MSG T.T

    1. I used to also, now we know to be more careful..

  3. Yayy to anchovies and seaweed!!! Ever since Ravel started eating solid food, I have used them in his base soup and sometimes when Papah can't take the smell of the ocean on his cloth diaper anymore (lol), I'll alternate making his broth using chicken bone. And shiitake mushroom is so yum yum. We add this to our dishes for "smokey" flavor. Love them as much as your family does. Next time you come here, let's masak masak!!

    1. They are so good, aren't they? Looking forward to it!