If you belong to the Chinese food fam, you must have heard people advising you not to overdo it. The biggest reason for this is the presence of a salt-like ingredient called ajinomoto. This element is the essence of Chinese cuisine, as it doesn’t just add flavor, but also brings out an aroma like no other.
Technically, ajinomoto is a compound made from sodium and glutamic acid, and prepared with plant-based ingredients like sugar beet, sugar cane, corn or cassava. It is a naturally occurring amino acid, and used commonly in Asian food like noodles, soup, fried rice, etc.
If you talk about the nutritional value of ajinomoto, according to celebrity nutritionist, Manisha Chopra, 1000 grams of this substance has 12,300 mg sodium, 21.2 mg calcium, and 0.4 mg of iron. That means there are no vitamins, proteins, fats, etc.
Ajinomoto is safe to use in small quantities, since excess use can be harmful for the body. Actually, glutamic acid functions as a neurotransmitter in the brain, so many people believe that ajinomoto is harmful. That’s because there is a risk of the glutamate being toxic for your body; it could even destroy nerve cells. But there is no study that supports this.
“Ajinomoto enhances the flavour of the food and harmonises all the other tastes in the meal to give it a balanced and rich flavour. People also use it in place of table salt, as it is much lower in sodium than the latter,” says Manisha.
According to the nutritionist, 0.5 grams of ajinomoto in food is a safe limit. Scientifically, there is no best time to have it. It can be added to any meal.
It is important to note that pregnant ladies as well as the ones who are sensitive to ajinomoto should avoid it completely. It is neither good for them nor for their baby.