MSG is short for monosodium glutamate. It is a common food additive.
People think it’s harmful to our health because glutamic acid functions as a neurotransmitter in our brain. It is an excitatory neurotransmitter, meaning that it stimulates nerve cells to relay its signal. Some people claim that MSG leads to excessive glutamate in the brain and excessive stimulation of nerve cells.
Why is yeast extract a good substitute for MSG?
The glutamate that comes from yeast extract is a natural one, while MSG is a synthetic one.
The yeast extract is an L-glutamate (natural)
L-glutamic acid, found in protein, is referred to as ‘bound’ or ‘protein bound’ glutamic acid. Virtually every natural food contains glutamate. For example, fishes have the most. Natural food protein, as well as protein in the human body, contains only L-forms of amino acids.
The MSG is a D-glutamate (synthetic)
D-glutamic acid is an “outside of protein” or “free glutamic acid.” Its artificially and chemically produced outside of the body. This is what is known as monosodium glutamate or MSG.
The yeast extract is a 100% natural food enhancer (UMAMI)
MSG doesn’t have a flavor. Instead, it acts just as a flavor enhancer, like salt. So yeast extract, besides being a 100% NATURAL food enhancer (UMAMI) by adding more flavor, adds a nice color and lot of flavor to foods, like a spice.
As its name indicates, yeast extract is derived from fresh yeast. Yeast is truly a natural all-rounder and essential for producing common foods such as bread, beer, and wine. This same yeast forms the basic ingredient for yeast extract.
Yeast extract is a rich blend of natural components that takes advantage of the various vitamins and proteins that yeast delivers. It is produced without the use of synthetic additives or chemical substances. Experienced food producers appreciate and use yeast extract because of its natural and unique taste providing characteristics.
Yeast extract contains a lower content of glutamate.
Yeast extract is a rich mix of protein components. As glutamate is part of any naturally occurring protein, it is also present in yeast extract. However, glutamate only accounts for approximately 5% of the total extract. Compared with other foods we consume daily – including tomatoes, mushrooms, and cheese, the glutamate level of yeast extract is very low. For instance, one tomato contains approximately twice the amount of glutamate present in 200 ml of yeast extract flavored bouillon.
Yeast extract is often mistaken with MSG – even though these ingredients differ strongly, both in composition and function. While yeast extract comprises a rich mix of proteins, vitamins, and amino acids, MSG is composed exclusively of glutamate salt. As a result, monosodium glutamate does not have a taste on its own and is only used to make existing flavors stronger.