MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is and additive in many foods. But it’s best known as a flavoring added to Chinese food. Despite lingering concerns about side effects and health risks, MSG is generally considered safe when consumed in “normal” amounts such as what you might have in a typical Chinese dinner.

Health concerns about MSG first emerged in the 1960’s, when the New England Journal of Medicine coined the term “Chinese restaurant syndrome” to describe the symptoms experienced by an individual who described repeated ill effects after eating Chinese food. MSG became the focus of attention even though numerous studies failed to show a strong connection between MSAG and side effects.

If you experience headaches of flushing or other symptoms after eating Chinese food, it may be that you have an allergy or sensitivity to ingredients other than MSG. It also may be possible that you don’t tolerate MSG well, but that would be due to your individual response to the ingredient, rather than to MSG being unsafe to consume.

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