Study finds glutamates such as MSG can help reduce Americans' sodium intake

November 08, 2019

Promising results from a new study published in the journal Nutrients add to accumulating evidence that glutamates such as monosodium glutamate (MSG) can be used to reduce sodium in the food supply. The study analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), looking at what Americans eat and estimating the reduction in sodium if glutamates are used as a partial replacement for sodium in certain food categories.

Findings indicate that the substitution of glutamates for salt can reduce sodium intake by up to 7-8 percent.

Research results are consistent with the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine's 2019 Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium report, which references MSG as a tool to help reduce sodium. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that Americans consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day as part of a healthy eating pattern, but about 90% of Americans are consuming too much. High sodium intake can raise blood pressure, and high blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular diseases.

"Most of our sodium intake comes from restaurant meals and packaged foods," says Dr. Taylor C. Wallace, an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies at George Mason University and lead researcher in the study. "MSG can be used to reduce sodium in these foods without a taste trade-off. MSG contains about 12 percent sodium, which is two-thirds less than that contained in table salt, and data shows a 25-40 percent reduction in sodium is possible in specific product categories when MSG is substituted for some salt. As Americans begin to understand that MSG is completely safe, I think we'll see a shift toward using the ingredient as a replacement for some salt to improve health outcomes."

Researchers used the data set from those enrolled in NHANES between 2013-2016, which includes 16,183 subjects aged 1 year and older. They established average sodium consumption and then used a modeling method to estimate sodium reduction using glutamate. For the total population, they found that the substitution of glutamate in certain food categories can reduce sodium intake by approximately 3 percent, and among consumers of at least one product category that is typically higher in sodium (like cured meats), the addition of glutamate could reduce sodium intake by even more (7-8 percent).

This indicates that if glutamate were used as a salt substitution in products like cured meats, meat-based frozen meals, soups and crackers, everyone in the US >1 year of age will likely benefit from a reduction in sodium. Other research has shown that when salt is simply reduced on its own, consumer acceptance of the food or product goes down. Because glutamate offers umami taste, it can reduce sodium without sacrificing taste.
The study was funded by Ajinomoto Co., Inc. It uses conservative assumptions on sodium reduction by substituting glutamates for sodium chloride, and does not model inclusion of glutamates in restaurant foods, which supply a large portion of sodium to the US diet. Therefore, the effect of glutamates could be greater than what is presented in the study.

About Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition North America, Inc.

Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition North America, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ajinomoto Co., Inc., a global leader in the research, development, manufacture and sale of amino acid-based products for the pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, sports nutrition, health and beauty industries, as well as food ingredients. The company opened its first American office in New York in 1917 and has since grown and expanded its presence, establishing offices and production facilities in North Carolina, Iowa and Illinois. Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition North America, Inc. leverages an international manufacturing, supply and distribution chain to bring the highest-grade products to customers. For additional information on Ajinomoto Health & Nutrition North America, Inc., please visit

Link to abstract:


1. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Sodium and Potassium: Knowledge Gaps and Future Directions. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2019.

2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2015). Dietary

Guidelines for Americans. Retrieved from

3. Jackson SL, Coleman King SM, Zhao L, Cogswell ME. Prevalence of sodium intake in the United States. MMWR. 2016; 64:1394-1397.

Edelman Public Relations

Related Nutrition Articles from Brightsurf:

Here's how to improve packaged foods nutrition
FOP nutrition labeling results in a significant improvement in the nutritional quality of food products.

'Front of package' nutrition labels improved nutrition quality
A new study analyzing 16 years of data on tens of thousands of products finds that the adoption of nutrition data on ''front of package'' labels is associated with improved nutritional content of those foods and their competitors.

Aquaculture's role in nutrition in the COVID-19 era
A new paper from American University examines the economics of an aquaculture industry of the future that is simultaneously environmentally sustainable and nutritious for the nearly 1 billion people worldwide who depend on it.

Fathers are more likely to be referred for nutrition or exercise counseling
Fatherhood status has been linked to medical providers' weight-related practices or counseling referrals.

Refugee children get better health, nutrition via e-vouchers
Electronic food vouchers provided young Rohingya children in Bangladeshi refugee camps with better health and nutrition than direct food assistance, according to new research led by Cornell University, in conjunction with the International Food Policy Research Institute.

Leaders call for 'Moonshot' on nutrition research
Leading nutrition and food policy experts outline a bold case for strengthening federal nutrition research in a live interactive session as part of NUTRITION 2020 LIVE ONLINE, a virtual conference hosted by the American Society for Nutrition (ASN).

Featured research from NUTRITION 2020 LIVE ONLINE
Press materials are now available for NUTRITION 2020 LIVE ONLINE, a dynamic virtual event showcasing new research findings and timely discussions on food and nutrition.

Diet, nutrition have profound effects on gut microbiome
A new literature review from scientists at George Washington University and the National Institute of Standards and Technology suggests that nutrition and diet have a profound impact on the microbial composition of the gut.

Are women getting adequate nutrition during preconception and pregnancy?
In a Maternal & Child Nutrition analysis of published studies on the dietary habits of women who were trying to conceive or were pregnant, most studies indicated that women do not meet nutritional recommendations for vegetable, cereal grain, or folate intake.

Supermarkets and child nutrition in Africa
Hunger and undernutrition are widespread problems in Africa. At the same time, overweight, obesity, and related chronic diseases are also on the rise.

Read More: Nutrition News and Nutrition Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to