Feast logo

Does MSG contain "invisible salt"?

by Sharon R. Brown 6 months ago in healthy


With the accumulation of scientific evidence and the improvement of public health awareness, "salt reduction" has become the consensus of a healthy diet.

However, salt is the source of salty taste, and salty is one of the five most basic tastes-without salty taste, the flavor of food will be greatly affected.

Therefore, using "small coups" such as "limiting salt spoons" to "reducing salt" can only serve as a "remind how much salt you have eaten"-after adding less salt, the food tastes bad, and many people insist Can't go down.

The core of "salt reduction" is "sodium reduction". Because both monosodium glutamate and soda ash contain sodium, many "experts" call it "invisible salt" and emphasize the need to "beware of invisible salt."

In fact, this reminder makes no sense.

The salty taste is produced by sodium, and sodium produces salty taste-for food salt, the human body's feedback is not based on "how much salt is contained", but on "how does it taste".

Monosodium glutamate is sodium glutamate, glutamate produces umami taste, and sodium produces salty taste. Umami and salty taste have a "synergistic effect", that is, glutamic acid can amplify the salty taste of sodium, and sodium can amplify the umami taste of glutamic acid.

Or in other words, with the same sodium content, glutamate can make people taste saltier-so to achieve the same saltiness, less sodium is needed.

This principle has been applied in food. For example, in the US food industry in recent years, many burgers have used mushrooms and beef to mix and match, which is to use the "natural flavor" in mushrooms to reduce the amount of salt, which is "healthier" than traditional burgers.

So, how much salt can be reduced by using MSG?

Four common foods were selected for the experiment: roasted vegetables, quinoa rice, yogurt dip and pork and cauliflower fried rice. Standard version, reduced salt version and "reduced salt plus MSG" version are made for each type of food. Then I found 163 adults of different ethnicities, different genders and different ages to taste. Among the three versions of the same food, the taster does not know which version they are, and the order of tasting is also randomly determined. Between the three versions, rinse your mouth with water and use biscuits to restore tongue sensitivity.

For each sample, the taster scored a number of indicators on a 9-point scale.

Roasted vegetables

In roasted vegetables, the sodium content of the reduced-salt version is 48% lower than that of the regular version, while the reduced-salt version with MSG is 31% lower. As a result, the taster did not give different scores for the three versions. That is to say, in the roasted vegetables, directly reducing the salt or adding or not adding MSG, did not change the tasters' acceptance of them.

Quinoa Rice

Quinoa rice is a mixed food containing quinoa. The amount of sodium salt in the regular version is 0.37 g/serving, the reduced-salt version is 0.2 g/serving, and the reduced-salt and MSG version is 0.25 g/serving. As a result, the taster gave 6.1 points for the taste preference of the regular version, while the overall preference was 5.8 points; for the reduced salt version, the two scores were 5.2 and 5.3 points, which was statistically "significantly different"; For the "reduced salt and MSG" version, although the sodium was reduced by 31%, the two scores given by the taster were 6.2 and 6.1, which were even higher than the conventional one. Because the researchers did not design a 31% reduced sodium version to match the "reduced salt plus MSG" sample, they couldn't judge whether it would be the same as the one with MSG if it was "not reduced by that much". What this set of experiments can show is that if the sodium content is reduced by 31% by "reducing salt and adding MSG", it will not affect the flavor of quinoa rice.

Yogurt Dip

The test results of the yogurt dip are very interesting. The regular version's overall preference and taste preference score are both 5.6 points, while after 59% salt reduction, both scores are both 5.8 points. Although there is no statistical difference, it seems to indicate that salt reduction does not harm its flavor and may even be beneficial. But if the sodium is reduced by 46% by "reducing salt and adding MSG", the two scores are 6.1 and 6.0 respectively, which are higher than the regular version, and there is also a statistically "significant difference".

Pork Cauliflower Fried Rice

The results of pork and cauliflower fried rice are similar to those of quinoa rice: in the regular version, the two scores are 4.9 and 5.0 respectively; after reducing sodium by 62.8%, the two scores are 4.4 and 4.3 respectively, which are significantly lower than the regular version ; After 61% sodium reduction is achieved by "reducing salt and adding MSG", both scores are 4.9 points, which is not significantly different from the conventional version with normal sodium content.

To sum up, this study shows that in many foods, the sodium content of food can be reduced by more than 30% through the operation of "reducing salt and adding MSG", while the flavor is not significantly affected.


Sharon R. Brown

Receive stories by Sharon R. Brown in your feed
Sharon R. Brown
Read next: Starbucks' New Iced Honeycomb Lavender Latte Is Only Available in Canada

Find us on social media

Miscellaneous links

  • Explore
  • Contact
  • Privacy Policy
  • Terms of Use
  • Support

© 2021 Creatd, Inc. All Rights Reserved.