What’s that in my food? — Hydrolyzed vegetable protein!

The Varsity, Jan. 11, 2011

You might not have heard of hydrolyzed vegetable protein, but you’ve surely heard of its villainous cousin, monosodium glutamate — or MSG — the culprit behind the so-called “Chinese restaurant syndrome.” The Japanese have been using MSG, derived from seaweed, for thousands of years, and it is the third most prevalent flavour enhancer in the world after salt and pepper.

MSG has been in the media for decades because of its associated side effects, including feelings of numbness, tingling, headaches, and heart palpitations. Though it is debatable, some believe it is neurotoxic — in other words, it may be poisonous to nerves and neurons.

In addition to these common criticisms, a 2008 study published in the journal Obesity illustrated that MSG may also be a contributor to obesity, due to its effects on leptin resistance.

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Related: Studies show MSG fed Mice became Grossly Obese