Vegan Vegetarian Cooking School

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Harmful food additives including MSG

Additives are included in many processed foods. Additives can be used for preservatives, taste enhancer's, or to replace a natural substance, such as sugar or fat.

One of the most commonly known additives is MSG. First of all there are forms of MSG found naturally in many vegetables right from the garden. MSG is a trouble maker when isolated and used in massive quantities as an additive  Much like SALT!!!! Too much salt causes many, many problems too.

Other additives are food dyes, preservatives, and so on. Some are definitely more harmful than others. Here are the top 10 to watch for from several sources, these were the most commonly mentioned.

1. Monosodium Glutamate or MSG
2. Nitrites (sodium and potassium) - found mostly in meat.
3. Aspartame, Saccharin, Acesulfane-K (and other artificial sweeteners)
4. BHA and BHT
5. Benzoate's
6. Hydrogenated oils (not particularly an additive, but needs to be mentioned!)
7. Olestra (a manmade oil)
8. Propyl... (Gallate, paraben, etc.)
9. Sulfites
10. Food Colors: especially Yellow - tartazine, #3; Red - allure, cochineal, ponceau 4R, Red A, #3 & #40; Blue #1 & 2; and Brilliant Black BN.

The good news, if you eat a whole food, plant based diet you really don't have to worry about these additives, with the execption of sulfites which may be found in dried fruit.


MSG - Monosodium Glutamate

MSG was discovered by a Japanese scientist in 1908. He isolated glutamate from a particular seaweed, which had been used for centuries as a flavor enhancer. It is found in protein containing foods like vegetables, and the human body also produces glutamate.

However, glutamate is found in two forms: "bound" glutamate (linked to other amino acids forming a protein molecule) and "free" glutamate (not linked to amino acids). It is the free glutamate that is used as an additive in food. .

The FDA recognized MSG as a generally safe additive, but conflicting reports about it's side effects and risks are out there.  Some of these side effects include asthmatic response, seizures, ADHD, hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia. The FDA does not set a limit on how much can be added to food, so there is definitely cause for concern. Some of the conflicting studies have disproved the Chinese Food Syndrome, which was one of the most common reason for not eating MSG. MANY, many of the information I found on the subject was circumstantial and antidotal. It is interesting to note the level of vitamin B6 in a person's body plays a role in glutamate metabolism, and the possible impact of marginal B6 intake. However, there is no scientific evidence that the levels of glutamate in hydrolyzed proteins causes adverse effects.

BUT that doesn't make MSG safe or good to eat. One news reporter put it this way, "Just because it isn't toxic, doesn't mean it is healthy." It does mean the highly sensationalized reports of hydrolyzed soy protein are sadly lacking in science.

So, beware of the chemicals in your food and how much you are eating.

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