Question: have you ever skipped out on that new Chinese take-out place that everyone is raving about because you’re afraid the chefs might include MSG in the dishes? It’s a normal fear that has been instilled in most of us; for years, slews of health experts have lectured Americans on all of the “dangers” of the ingredient, but, believe it or not, there is another side to MSG that’s not all bad…

But, before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s take a closer look at what MSG really is. MSG is short for monosodium glutamate, and it’s an ingredient that is typically used to add a salty punch to your food–though it technically can’t be called a “salt” or “seasoning.” In 1998, the FDA made this decision, an austere proclamation that ended up giving MSG an even worse reputation than it had prior to the change.

You see, back in the 1960’s, scientists were beginning to take a closer look at the common ingredient, and after one study showed that it caused some conclusive harm in mice, concern began to spread.

This panic has still stayed strong, even almost six decades later, but the truth is that the ingredient is still a widely used one. Don’t believe us? Open the door to your pantry and pull out a bag of chips or a can of soup–chances are, monosodium glutamate is listed as one of the MANY not-so-great for you ingredients under the nutrition facts.

It can be a bit of a surprising exercise for those who are newbies to the complexities of MSG, especially considering that Chinese restaurants have been unfairly pegged as the purveyors of MSG for years now. While it’s true that the ingredient was a common ingredient used in these restaurants, many have actually used the controversy to their advantage.

In fact, plenty of Chinese joints proudly advertise that they are “MSG-free,” right on their menus. It’s a great marketing tactic, considering almost half of Americans actively avoid the ingredient. What’s interesting about this, though, is that these statements might not really mean anything at the end of the day because MSG probably isn’t that bad for you after all.

Surprising, right?

As stated, that study back in the 1960’s only included mice, which are far from being perfect test subjects. These days, you’ll see a range of different studies out there about the salty additive, but, the verdict is still out as to whether it is really bad for you or not. The one thing that we do know is that most foods that have MSG as a component tend to be ones that are very high in sodium anyway, meaning that the dishes are probably less healthy than the one ingredient itself.

Intriguing stuff, right? To learn more about what the FDA says about MSG and to get a better idea of its purported “negative side effects,” be sure to watch the video below.

We’d love to hear your take on this controversial ingredient. Do you avoid MSG? If so, why do you do it? Are there any other flavorings that you keep out of your diet?