Monosodium glutamate, more commonly called MSG, is the often maligned food additive used to enhance flavor and make dishes more savory without making them too salty. This same ingredient may be key to reducing dangerous sodium consumption in nations that are eating too much salt, according to researchers, who say that replacing some salt with MSG may help reduce blood pressure and protect heart health.
The findings were recently published in Nutrients. Researchers used National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data on American dietary habits. Based on their analysis, the team found that replacing some salt in certain foods with MSG can slash overall sodium intake by 7- to 8-percent, helping the public stay under the 2.3g of max sodium intake commonly recommended by health officials.
Excessive salt intake is a major factor in the development of high blood pressure, which is a dangerous condition that paves the way for a huge number of chronic health problems, including everything from vision problems to heart disease and stroke. Getting people to reduce the amount of salt they eat can be tricky, however, due to the perception of low-salt foods having less flavor, plus the number of processed food products that use salt as a preservative.
The food additive MSG only contains around 12-percent sodium, meaning it has only around a third of the level found in ordinary table salt. The additive boosts flavor despite this, however, and the researchers note that salt levels can be cut by up to 40-percent by adding MSG without compromising how palatable the food is.
The study’s lead researcher Dr. Taylor C. Wallace said, ‘As Americans begin to understand that MSG is completely safe, I think we’ll see a shift toward using the ingredient as a replacement for some salt to improve health outcomes.’ MSG is readily available to purchase in most grocery stores and online food retailers.