Healthwise: The quickest way to fatten a rat is to feed it MSG

A doctor told me that the quickest way to fatten a rat is to feed it MSG. Given that the majority of humans consume MSG on a daily basis, logic would dictate that MSG is also fattening us.

MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is the sodium salt of a naturally occurring amino acid that makes up part of all food protein. It is also used as an additive to enhance flavour in foods. Once termed the “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome,” it is actually present in many other foods, including bottled sauces, pre-packaged meals, frozen dinners, salad dressings, mayonnaise, gravies, seasoning mixes, and potato chips.

Although deemed safe for consumption by Health Canada, some people with MSG sensitivities complain of facial pressure, nausea, chest pains, migraine headaches or asthma-like symptoms after ingestion.

So, how do you know if the food you are eating contains MSG? Monosodium glutamate must be listed in the ingredients; therefore, take the time to read labels. However, there are no labeling requirements for naturally-occurring free glutamate, which is found in foods such as tomatoes, peas, corn, grapes and some cheeses.

The short-term convenience of fast foodMonosodium-Glutamate-MSG-

A man eats his lunch out every single day by rotating between fast-food restaurants closest to his workplace. He gains weight and is confused when his doctor declares that his cholesterol is through the roof. Eventually, this man changes jobs and no longer enjoys the convenience of fast-food restaurants nearby, so he decides to bring his lunch to work every day instead. Six months later, his doctor reveals dramatic improvements in his overall health. After a few minutes of reflection, the man realizes that the only thing he changed was his lunch.

In addition to containing MSG, fast-food meals contain calorie counts so high that over time, one cannot help but gain weight – not to mention that the portions are too large, contain high levels of saturated fat, transfats and sodium.

It is best to eat fast food in moderation or avoid it altogether. Its short-term convenience is not worth your health in the end. And, while it would be quite difficult to avoid MSG altogether, pay attention to labels and choose wisely.