Watermelon is my favorite summertime treat: cold, juicy, and sweet. Last year, at a July 4th get-together, as I was cutting up watermelon, another holiday party guest suggested I sprinkle my slice with a pinch of salt. I thought “salty watermelon?” I’m a dietitian who encourages people to cut down on salt! But sure enough: instead of tasting salty, the watermelon popped with sweetness.
“Oh, we always make sure to ask for no MSG when we eat Chinese food.” “I never allow my kids to eat anything with MSG.” “We’d never eat at any restaurant that uses MSG.” “It’s horrendous that MSG is even allowed to be used in food that could be given to kids.”
These are comments I’ve actually heard from consumers and patients. What these same consumers have actually done is let me know they are very misinformed. How? Read on.
When I was in college, I had to take a mandatory science class. As a communications major, the idea of being required to take a science class in order to move on with my life felt so unjust. Luckily, I heard about a professor who cooked in his chemistry classes, so I chose his over the others. Despite only barely passing, I learned for the first time that biology and chemistry are the keys to flavor and mouth feel balance! The best food is made with a deep understanding of how food reacts to various degrees of manipulation and how flavors interact with each other. All these years later, that experience is still helpful.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) has long been acknowledged as a superior flavor enhancer, delivering the great taste of umami. But did you know it also has added value as doing good for your body?
Among its benefits, MSG can help the generalized population of Americans who have been encouraged to decrease sodium consumption; benefit specific individuals with high blood pressure who must decrease sodium intake; and aid vulnerable populations such as malnourished elderly needing a more nutritious diet.
What’s junk science? It’s “pseudo-science.” It’s when someone or some group with an agenda uses – or references – poorly done research to attempt to prove a point they want to make. It’s also when such persons or groups twist the conclusion of good research to fit an agenda. It’s misleading but it happens all the time in news stories. At best, junk science is misleading. When it’s intentional, it’s almost fraudulent.
To help sort out all the consumer confusion caused by junk science, the American Society of Nutrition, the American College of Nutrition, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics formed a partnership called the Food and Nutrition Science Alliance. The Alliance developed a list of “Ten Red Flags of Junk Science” examples, according to Tufts University.