Celiac disease and gluten intolerance are real health issues that can cause significant discomfort and physical damage. For people with these conditions, following a gluten-free diet is a medical necessity, not just a fad. Some people choose a gluten-free lifestyle for other reasons, such as helping them focus more on consuming whole foods and fewer processed foods. In any case, people who avoid gluten-containing foods get used to reading lots of food labels. Checking ingredient lists and allergen statements on food packaging is essential in order to really know if a food is gluten-free or not.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a gluten-free ingredient. Nevertheless, confusion about its gluten-free status is understandable for a couple of reasons. The first and most obvious reason is that the words “gluten” and “glutamate” both start with the same letters and sound quite similar (due to the beginning “gloot” sound).
During (and before) the holidays I find myself poring over cooking magazines and food blogs in search of amazing recipes to serve at my annual party and special holiday meals. I want every meal to be packed with dishes that tantalize the taste buds. The holidays are all about maximizing the pleasure we get from eating. But even aside from holiday time, modern humans are largely a lucky species. We frequently have the luxury of choosing and preparing foods based on what tastes good to us. Indeed, surveys and studies find time after time that, although hunger drives the desire to eat, taste is the primary characteristic by which we select what we eat.
I’m not exactly sure why, but the question of whether monosodium glutamate and gluten are related is a common one. There can be some confusion over the terms involved, as well as how MSG is produced, so if you’re concerned about gluten, here’s what you need to know…
Maybe it’s the G-L-U? You might have noticed that the first several letters of both words are the same. Unless one is familiar with nutrition science, the words used in the discipline can be confusing—especially if they sound similar—or partially similar, like these two do. This similarity doesn’t mean that the two things are related at all.
As a dietitian, I’m happy to share the science-based information I have on many topics—including monosodium glutamate. There are lots of scientific studies on this ingredient, so there’s no lack of information to provide to people seeking answers to their “MSG problems”. The thing is, people have to be open to hearing the information.
Planning your Thanksgiving menu? You might not realize it, but there’s a good chance that you’re thinking umami, too. Yes, I know the Japanese word umami (loosely translated as deliciousness) seems pretty far away from the concept of this quintessential American feast, but if you think about it, creating a delicious traditional Thanksgiving meal relies on lots of savory dishes that do contribute their fair share of umami taste.