Tag Archives: green tea

Is MSG Safe?

The short answer is yes — MSG is included in the FDA’s Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) list, and research in Europe, the US, and Asia shows that MSG used in prepared foods or as a condiment is safe for people of all ages.

A few weeks ago I went to a luncheon about umami — the fifth taste. If you’re not familiar with umami, it is the “meaty” or “savory” rich taste that results from monosodium glutamate (MSG) in foods. Glutamate is the most prevalent amino acid found in dietary proteins and is found in many foods, including Parmesan cheese, ripe tomatoes, Chinese cabbage, seaweed, sardines, braised beef, mushrooms, and soy sauce. MSG is the sodium salt of glutamate, and when it’s added to food in small quantities, it enhances the umami flavor.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “but MSG is bad for me, isn’t it?” I also thought that until I learned more about it and umami. It turns out that MSG contains about 70% less sodium per teaspoon than table salt (640 mg vs 2,300 mg respectively). That’s pretty amazing, especially since we know that Americans need to watch their sodium intake. Using MSG in the cooking process can actually help lower dietary sodium intake. And, the amount of MSG you take in daily is trivial – it’s only up to 1/2 gram per day (as a reference, 1 teaspoon=4 grams).

At the luncheon, chef Danny Boome (of Rescue Chef on the Food Network) served three umami-rich courses, including:

  • Grilled Orange Polenta topped with Crabmeat Salad and Herb Oil — the polenta and crab are both umami
  • Coq Au Vin — bacon, mushrooms, and chicken stock give this dish it’s umami taste
  • Green Tea Ginger Sorbet with Pumpkin Green Tea Cheesecake — green tea and cheese are both evoke the umami taste

umami green tea cheese umami

Since I don’t eat shellfish or pork, I didn’t get to fully experience this meal (I received vegetarian substitutions that had some umami elements), but what I did enjoy was delicious and definitely opened my eyes to new ways to enhance the umami taste in my cooking.

Do you experience umami in the food you eat?

Note: I was not paid or asked to write about umami or MSG. All opinions are my own.

Warm Up at Teatime

Brrr…it’s cold in New York City and, I would imagine, other areas of the Northeast! Instead of warming up with high-calorie coffee or hot chocolate drinks topped with mounds of whipped cream, have a cup — or two or three — of tea.

Tea is a calorie-free, fat-free beverage choice that also has a lot of health benefits. I’m sure you have heard a lot about green tea over the past few years, but there are many different types of tea that are good for you, namely black, white, and oolong tea. The leaves of these four teas have antioxidant-filled polyphenols — natural substances found in fruits and vegetables. The polyphenols in these teas are flavonoids called catechins.

Green tea is the least processed of these polyphenol-filled teas, and therefore has the most polyphenols and health benefits. Studies have shown that benefits of green tea include:

  • Decreased risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Protection against cancer, especially prostate cancer
  • Prevention of blood clots, due to thinning of blood
  • Prevention of hypertension (high blood pressure)

For the most polyphenols, brew the tea at least 3 to 5 minutes and don’t add milk mdash; it reduces the health benefits!

If you don’t add sugar and milk to your tea you’ll have a zero-calorie drink that you can sip on all day long guilt-free! In addition, you won’t have to worry about getting too much caffeine. Green, black, white, and oolong teas have 40-50 mg of caffeine per 8 ounce cup, compared to 130 mg in coffee.

Do you like tea? What’s your favorite kind?