How does Chinese food taste without MSG

Fear of glutamate in food is unfounded

Many people fear glutamate because it has been linked to various serious medical conditions in the past. However, disease-causing effects have not been clearly proven.

Studies have provided evidence that disorders in the endogenous glutamate metabolism, i.e. the body's own metabolism, can be linked to diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

That is not entirely absurd, because glutamate is an important messenger substance in the brain and is very active there. But the important thing is: The endogenous glutamate is the problem, not the exogenous one that we ingest. The latter usually cannot cross the blood-brain barrier that separates and protects the area around our brain from the rest of the body. This gate doesn't just open like that, it takes sudden increases in blood pressure, epileptic seizures or strokes.

No risk of cancer in normal amounts

It was also suspected that glutamate is carcinogenic. Researchers from the USA had found in a study that particularly aggressive prostate tumors were associated with high glutamate concentrations in the blood and more glutamate receptors on the tumor tissue.

Because it is not yet clear whether glutamate also causes the tumors, the European Food Safety Authority tested the substance again a few years ago. Result: Glutamate is not dangerous in the usual amounts that we consume every day.

Other studies warn, however, that glutamate could promote obesity. The thesis is that glutamate promotes resistance to leptin. Leptin is a hormone that regulates hunger and plays a role in fat metabolism. Tests on rodents had already shown leptin resistance due to glutamate. A study of 752 Chinese confirmed the results to the extent that more glutamate consumption in people was also associated with weight gain.

The "China Restaurant Syndrome"

At the end of the sixties, the American doctor Robert Ho Man Kwok described a not life-threatening but unpleasant phenomenon for which he blamed glutamate. In a letter he sent to the New England Journal of Medicine, he first brought up the term "China Restaurant Syndrome".

In the Asian cuisine is heavily seasoned with glutamate and Kwok himself had regularly seen that he did not feel well after eating Chinese food: his mouth went dry, began to tingle, went numb and his throat was itchy. There were also hot flashes, palpitations, headaches and body aches and nausea.

Other people report similar symptoms after eating Chinese. According to the current state of research, however, the glutamate is not responsible for this. No evidence whatsoever could be found that there is hypersensitivity to glutamate.

Nutritionists, associations and institutes such as the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment have therefore no concerns against occasional seasoning with glutamate. The BfR only advises against using it as a substitute for table salt: Apart from the fact that glutamates do not cause a typical salty taste, the compounds should only be used for their intended purpose as a taste enhancer.