Now that fall has arrived, people are eating soup more frequently to combat cold season. Before reaching for cans of soup, however, it’s important to consider the added MSG and the high sodium content found in instant soups. According to experts, MSG and high sodium can lead to an array of health problems, from allergic reactions to an increased risk of stroke.
For Bonnie Balk, registered dietician and health & wellness expert for Maple Holistics, eliminating canned soups from your diet is one of the best ways to avoid the health risks and complications associated with high sodium intake and MSG.
Many Americans are under the misapprehension that too much sodium is really only dangerous if you have a pre-existing condition like heart disease or high blood pressure, but it's actually a good idea for everyone to cut down on their sodium intake.
According to WebMD, "Too much sodium can increase the risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. This is cause for concern, as heart disease and stroke and the No. 1 and No. 3 killers of men and women in the U.S."
What do the risks of too much sodium have to do with canned soup? Bonnie Balk explains, "The sodium levels in instant soup on average are 2,400 mg, which is more than the recommended (2300mg/day maximum) according to the American Heart Association."
In fact, the American Heart Association actually recommends moving toward a much lower daily sodium intake--around 1,500 mg per day for most adults. To reach this goal, it's important to cut out instant soup and other processed foods. The American Heart Association explains, "More than 70 percent of the sodium Americans eat comes from packaged, prepared and restaurant foods--not the salt shaker."
Balk also warns against the added MSG found in canned soups. She explains,"Before you boil up water for your instant soup bowl, reconsider the long-lasting effects that are bubbling. MSG (monosodium glutamate) is notoriously added to processed meats, packaged foods, and canned soups to enhance flavor. The immediate noticeable effects (headaches, sweating, flushing, and rapid heartbeats) many people experience should be enough of a reason to warn you that your body rejects this additive."
Although the jury is still out on how harmful MSG is to your body, the negative reactions Balk describes are part of a well-known condition called "Chinese restaurant syndrome" or "MSG symptom complex."
However, in modest amounts, MSG may not be harmful for everybody. Writing for Healthline, Joe Leech, MS, RD, explained, "Some people may experience adverse effects from consuming MSG. Evidence indicates that MSG is safe in moderate amounts. However, megadoses may cause harm. If you react adversely to MSG, you shouldn’t eat it. That said, if you don’t experience side effects, there’s no compelling reason to avoid it."
Even if you don't experience an adverse reaction to MSG, the high sodium content in canned soup poses a serious threat to a healthy diet and lifestyle. That being said, cutting out canned soups is one easy way to be healthier in 2020.