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These 12 Facts About MSG Will Make You A Convert

When it comes to MSG, there's more than meets the eye (and tongue!).

1. MSG provides food with a flavor distinctly evocative of umami, commonly referred to as the “fifth taste.”

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2. In fact, glutamate, one of the main components of MSG, stimulates the taste receptors on your tongue that recognize the flavor of umami.

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3. MSG stands for monosodium glutamate. Glutamate, the most abundant amino acid in nature, is found in many foods you probably already have in your kitchen.

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4. MSG originated from the discovery of umami from seaweed in 1908 in Japan when scientist Dr. Kikunae Ikeda was attempting to isolate this fifth taste from his seaweed soup.

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5. This may come as a surprise, but MSG contains only a third of the sodium found in table salt. That means that opting for MSG over classic table salt may help reduce your sodium intake without sacrificing flavor.

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6. It doesn’t take much to build that umami taste. With MSG, just about 1/2 teaspoon can actually add a great deal of flavor to meats, vegetables, soups, and more!

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7. Tomatoes and aged cheese are two of the most common foods in which MSG can actually occur naturally.

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8. MSG is actually much more commonplace than you may think. It's found in a number of prepackaged goods, like flavored chips, ranch dressing, and more.

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9. Generalized mistrust of MSG seems to have begun around 1968, when the New England Journal of Medicine published a particularly impassioned "letter to the editor" they'd received.

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The letter came from someone claiming to experience uncomfortable side effects after eating Chinese food. The association, however, has never been proven accurate.

10. Independent studies run in the '90s employed legitimate scientific methodology and debunked the previous decades' myths around MSG, which were not-so-subtly steeped in cultural bias.

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11. Umami, the distinguishing taste you get from MSG, is derived from the words "umai" and "mi" — Japanese for "delicious" and "taste," respectively.

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12. The flavor experience of umami is savory and satisfying, joining the tastes of sweet, sour, salty, and bitter as the fifth taste.

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Sounds pretty good, right? Maybe it’s time to make some room for MSG and umami at your table!

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Discover even more about MSG with Ajinomoto Co.