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A top nutritionist reveals if ajinomoto is good or bad for you

Published on:10 July 2021, 09:30am IST
Ajinomoto is not just a taste-maker. It is also a health breaker.
Nikita Bhardwaj
Ajinomoto – Yay or Nay? Image courtesy: Shutterstock

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.

So is ajinomoto healthy?

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. 

Your favorite Chinese food is loaded with ajinomoto. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

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. 

Here are some really harmful effects of ajinomoto
  • Consumption of ajinomoto leads to sweating issues.
  • Its consumption may lead to fatigue, due to dehydration in the body.
  • Too much sodium in the body can also lead to joint and muscle pain.
  • It may also lead to a burning sensation in the stomach for some people. Other gut related issues like acidity, acid reflux, etc can also make things worse.
  • Eating excess ajinomoto can also lead to fluctuations in blood pressure. 
  • Migraine or severe headache is also seen in people who consume ajinomoto in high quantities.
  • The monosodium glutamate content present in it can lead to breathing issues, while sleeping. It makes you snore a lot.
  • And shockingly, a study published in the journal Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety suggests that it might be cancerous as well. The study reveals that too much consumption of ajinomoto might reprogram the cancerous cells and also lead to colorectal cancer.  
Stay away from ajinomotoif you are pregnant. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
The last word

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. 

Nikita Bhardwaj Nikita Bhardwaj

Six-pack abs are all that Nikita needs, along with her daily dose of green tea. At Health Shots, she produces videos, podcasts, stories, and other kick-ass content.