Salt vs. MSG: Which is healthier?

Here’s a side-by-side comparison. Which do you think is healthier? Feel free to send us any links for further evidence in the comments and we’ll update as necessary.

Sodium Chloride

· Salt ·


  • Used in food for: over 8,000 years
  • Origin: Rocks. Commercial salt can come from evaporation or boiling sea water or complex isolation procedures. Industrial table salt can contain added potassium iodide and anti-caking agents such as magnesium carbonate, calcium silicate, calcium phosphate, magnesium silicate, or calcium carbonate.1,2 Low to highly processed.
  • Sodium Content: 2,300mg per 6g serving (40%)3
  • FDA Status: GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe)
  • Uses in food: flavor enhancer, preservative
  • Health concerns: consuming too much salt increases risk of cardiovascular diseases. High salt intake is associated with a greater risk of stroke, total cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, osteoporosis, and cancer.4,5

There have been hundreds of scientific studies showing both the short- long-term adverse health effects of consuming salt.6

  • Deaths per year caused by salt: 2,300,0007
    1 in 10 deaths in the US8
  • Regulation in natural food stores: Unregulated9,10

Monosodium Glutamate

· MSG ·


  • Used in food for: over 100 years
  • Origin: Sodium from glutamic acid. Originally made from seaweed, glutamate is a naturally occurring amino acid that is found in nearly all foods. Commercial MSG is a product of industrial fermentation or chemical synthesis.11 Mid to highly processed.
  • Sodium Content: 690mg per 6g serving (12%)12
  • FDA Status: GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe)
  • Uses in food: flavor enhancer, sodium reducer (can reduce sodium intake by 20-40%)13
  • Health concerns: high levels of sodium should be avoided for the same reasons as salt. MSG contains 28% less sodium than salt for the same serving size. MSG is one of the most extensively studied food ingredients in our food supply.14

There are no significant adverse reactions to MSG from any scientific study ever published.15 At no time has any official body, governmental or academic, ever found it necessary to warn humans against consuming MSG.16 A recent double-blind study showed that subjects were not even “MSG intolerant.”17 There is no data to support the role of glutamate in chronic disease.18

  • Deaths per year caused by MSG: 0
  • Regulation in natural food stores: Banned9,10

12 Yamaguchi, Shizuko, Central Research Laboratories, Ajinomoto Co., Japan; Takahashi, Chikahito, Central Research Laboratories, Ajinomoto Co., Japan. (January 1984). “Interactions of monosodium glutamate and sodium chloride on saltiness and palatability of a clear soup”. Journal of Food Science. 49 (1): 82?85.
15 •Freeman, Matthew, CNP, mph, Clinical Instructor (Adult Nurse Practitioner), Ohio State University. He reviewed 40 years of documents on PubMed, Medline, Lexis-Nexus, and Infotrac, and concluded there is no consistent clinical data to support the belief that MSG can elicit a headache, and there is no consistent evidence to suggest that individuals may be uniquely sensitive to MSG. (2006). “Reconsidering the effects of monosodium glutamate: A literature review”. Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. 18 (10): 482–6. doi:10.1111/j.1745-7599.2006.00160.x. PMID 16999713.
17 Geha RS et al. Multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multiple challenge evaluation of reported reactions to monsosodium glutamate.J.Allergy Clin. Immunol., 2000, 106;973-980

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