Excess intake of sodium glutamate (also known as MSG) has been linked to increased cravings, overeating and obesity.
Sodium glutamate or monosodium glutamate is one of the most common additives in manufactured foods and is used widely in foods served at restaurants. It is also present in some foods naturally. It is usually in the form of a white crystalline powder and looks very similar to salt and sugar. Monosodium glutamate is a flavour enhancer. It enhances the meaty taste of food items, and actually makes the food item tastier, and has an excitatory effect on the nerve cells, hence inducing over-eating. “By itself, MSG may be safe in very small doses but it could be harmful even in minute amounts for those who are allergic or sensitive to MSG. Large doses are certainly harmful. The point noteworthy is that MSG is mostly found in large amounts in processed food items like chips, packaged soups, canned foods, which by themselves are unhealthy and thus they must be avoided (not just because they have MSG). One must check food labels while buying any packaged stuff and avoid buying if MSG is listed”, says nutritionist Pooja Malhotra.
According to her, “Chemically, there is no difference between the one found in natural foods and the one in processed foods. Yet as an additive, it may be harmful because of the large doses or the other components in processed foods.”
Some of the food items which contain sodium glutamate are canned foods, sausages, chips, prepared soups, hot dogs, beer and many more. It is also naturally present in food items like cheese, tomatoes, peas, walnuts, wheat etc. An excess intake of sodium glutamate has been linked to increased cravings, overeating, obesity and other metabolic disorders.