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Is MSG High in Sodium?

is MSG high in sodium

Even though “sodium” is a part of MSG’s name (monosodium glutamate), there is not much sodium in it. And MSG contains a fraction of the amount of sodium that salt does. So, replacing some salt with MSG will lead to a lower sodium food that still tastes good.

How can adding a little bit of sodium lower the overall amount of sodium you eat? If that sodium is part of monosodium glutamate, also known as MSG.

What is MSG?

MSG seasoningMSG is a seasoning that is simply the stabilized salt form of the amino acid glutamate. Glutamate is responsible for triggering a savory or umami flavor in our mouths. Therefore, tasting MSG is tasting the purest form of umami.

Does MSG contain sodium?

Yes, MSG contains a small amount of sodium, as the name suggests (monosodium glutamate). Sodium is one part of the compound with glutamic acid being the other. This creates a stable compound called glutamate, which is what signals umami flavor in our mouths. It is the same as the way that sodium chloride forms table salt.

Is MSG high in sodium?

No, MSG only contains a small amount of sodium. And, it contains a fraction of the amount of sodium that salt does. About 12% of MSG is made up of sodium whereas about 39% of salt is sodium. In other words, MSG contains one third the amount of sodium as salt.

How can a food’s sodium content be lowered by using MSG?

When MSG is substituted for some of the salt in a recipe, the recipe’s sodium content can be lowered by 20% to 40% without negatively affecting the flavor of the food.

In fact, adding MSG often improves the flavor of a food because it adds savory flavor, enhances other flavors, and balances other flavors. (Here’s a great video about achieving “Great Taste with Less Salt” from a chef’s perspective.)

Additionally, MSG is often used in tiny amounts (like less than 1% of the whole food) so the overall sodium contribution is relatively low compared to the amount added through regular salt.

Check out MSG Brings Out Great Taste with Less Salt and More Umami to learn more about the research that has been done on using MSG to lower the sodium in various foods.

When would MSG be used?

Savory foods benefit from MSG the most. These are foods like meat, poultry, seafood, casseroles, eggs, vegetables, soups, and sauces.

MSG can be used anytime the person preparing the food wants to add umami flavor or balance other flavors like salty, sour, and bitter. It can also be used to tone down astringent or earthy notes in food.

Both home-cooked and pre-made foods can use MSG for flavor. MSG can also be used to lower the sodium levels in processed foods like chips, crackers, jerky, breads, rolls, and biscuits.

How can you use MSG to lower your sodium at home?

lower sodium with MSGSubstitute MSG for about one third (1/3) of the salt you would normally use in a savory dish. You can further adjust the seasoning levels from there if you’d like. For the best flavor results, completely replacing salt with MSG is not recommended.

How can MSG be used to lower the sodium in packaged foods?

Most of the sodium in the American diet comes from packaged and processed foods. Baked goods are one of the biggest contributors to daily sodium intake, accounting for about 20% of the sodium we eat on a daily basis. But baked goods are probably not where people on sodium-restricted diets think to look for salt.

A recent study found that reduced-sodium bread with MSG was liked by consumers just as much as the full sodium bread.

This is similar to other research on roasted vegetables, quinoa bowls, fried rice, yogurt dip, soup, and a corn snack that showed sodium content could be lowered while maintaining or increasing consumers’ enjoyment of the foods.

Thus, MSG can be a way to lower the sodium content of packaged foods while maintaining the flavor of those foods.

Theresa is a dietitian in private practice who specializes in GI disorders and food allergies and intolerances. She is passionate about making nutrition fit within the constraints of the real world. Theresa previously spent years coaching heart patients at Emory University Hospital Midtown through lifestyle changes as well as teaching students at Oregon State University and Georgia State University the basics of nutrition. Read more about her background on the About page. Note: MSGdish bloggers are compensated for their time in writing for MSGdish, but their statements and opinions are their own. They have pledged to blog with integrity, asserting that the trust of their readers and their peers is vitally important to them.

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