The AtlanticThe Atlantic

MSG is finally getting its revenge

By Yasmin Tayag

11 May 2023 · 6 min read

Editor's Note

The Atlantic weighs in on the potential of MSG as a healthy alternative to salt. It may not be a one-to-one replacement, but it could still have major impacts on our health.

In March, the World Health Organization issued a dire warning that was also completely obvious: Nearly everyone on the planet consumes too much salt. And not just a sprinkle too much; on average, people consume more than double what is advisable every single day, raising the risk of common diseases such as heart attack and stroke. If governments intervene in such profligate salt intake, the WHO urged, they could save the lives of 7 million people by 2030.

Such warnings about salt are so ubiquitous that they are easy to tune out. In the United States, salt intake has been a public-health issue for more than half a century; since then, the initiatives launched to combat it have been deemed by health officials as “too numerous to describe,” but little has changed in terms of policy or appetite. The main reason salt has remained a problem is that it’s a major part of all processed food—and, well, it makes everything delicious. Persuading Americans to reduce their consumption would require a convincing dupe—something that would cut down on unhealthy sodium without making food any less tasty.

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