Food Lists, Glutamate

Glutamate Food List

Good Grief… Glutamates!

Think of your brain as a race car, with neurotransmitters being the gas and brake for the race car. Following so far?

In this scenario, GABA would be your brakes, calming the brain and promoting relaxation. Too much GABA would cause lethargy and fatigue.

Glutamate would be like the gas pedal, acting as your major excitatory neurotransmitter, keeping the brain focused and alert. Too much glutamate/excitation causes anxiety and sleeplessness, among other symptoms, depending on the person. Over time, excessive levels of glutamate cause neurological inflammation and damage.

Keeping glutamate and GABA balanced in the brain can be extremely impactful for a range of neurodegenerative conditions:

  • ALS
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Autism
  • Huntington’s
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s
  • Stroke
  • Those with atrial fibrillation, seizures and panic attacks also seem to benefit from achieving this balance.

Glutamate is a VERY common amino acid found NATURALLY in many foods to varying degrees. Remember, even the human body produces some and uses it to produce body proteins, and neurotransmitters (brain chemicals).  Over-consumption of MSG, glutamic acid, or other forms of glutamate can cause sensitivity in some people. Avoiding it is close to impossible. The key is knowing food sources so you can limit your exposure if needed.

The first step in balancing glutamate and GABA is to avoid foods and nutritional supplements that contain or prompt the body to create glutamate or other excitatory neurochemicals that can enter via the glutamate receptors such as aspartate, aspartame, aspartic acid, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine (mostly a problem with children), homocysteine and monosodium glutamate (MSG).  Then, if you feel better when restricting glutamates, it’s best to modify/limit the amount of food sources you consume.

All of these act as neurotoxins when present in excess.

Sources of MSG

  • Hydrolyzed protein or hydrolyzed oat flour
  • Sodium caseinate or calcium caseinate
  • Autolyzed yeast or yeast extract
  • Gelatin
  • Glutamic acid
  • Monosodium glutamate

Excitotoxic Food Ingredients

  • Ajinomoto
  • Autolyzed anything
  • Autolyzed yeast
  • Autolyzed yeast extract
  • Bouillon
  • Broth
  • Calcium caseinate
  • Carrageenan (or vegetable gum)
  • Caseinate
  • Chicken/pork/beef “base”
  • Chicken/pork/beef “flavoring”
  • Disodium caseinate
  • Disodium guanylate
  • Disodium inosinate
  • Dough conditioner(s)
  • Gelatin
  • Glutamate
  • Guar gum
  • Hydrolyzed anything
  • Hydrolyzed oat flour
  • Hydrolyzed plant protein
  • Hydrolyzed protein
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • Kombu extract
  • Malt extract
  • Malt flavoring(s)
  • Malted anything
  • Malted barely flour
  • Malted barley/barley malt
  • Maltodextrin
  • Meat flavorings (chicken, beef etc.)
  • Monosodium glutamate
  • Natural flavor(s)
  • Natural flavoring(s)
  • Nutrasweet/aspartame
  • Plant protein extract 1-cysteine
  • Seasoned salt
  • Seasoning(s) or spices
  • Smoke flavoring(s)
  • Sodium caseinate
  • Soup base
  • Soy extract
  • Soy protein
  • Soy protein concentrate
  • Soy protein isolate
  • Soy sauce
  • Spice mixes that contain glutamate or MSG as an ingredient
  • Stock
  • Textured protein
  • Vegetable gum
  • Whey protein
  • Whey protein concentrate
  • Whey protein isolate
  • Yeast extract

Foods High in Glutamates:

  • Anything enzyme modified
  • Anything fermented
  • Anything protein fortified
  • Anything ultra-pasteurized
  • Anything vitamin enriched
  • Anything with corn syrup added
  • Anything with milk solids
  • Baked goods from bakeries
  • Barbeque sauce
  • Certain brands of cold cuts/hot dogs
  • Body builder protein mixes
  • Bottled spaghetti sauce
  • Boullion (any kind)
  • Broccoli
  • Canned and smoked tuna, oysters, clams
  • Canned soups (certain brands)
  • Canned refried beans
  • Canned, frozen, or dry entrees and potpies
  • Caramel flavoring/coloring
  • Catsup
  • Cereals
  • Chili sauce
  • Chocolates/Candy bars
  • Citric acid (when processed from corn)
  • Corn
  • Cornstarch
  • Corn chips (certain brands)
  • Dough conditioners
  • Dry milk or whey powder
  • Egg substitutes
  • Flavored chips (certain brands)
  • Flavored teas, sodas
  • Flour
  • Flowing agents
  • Fresh and frozen pizza
  • Fresh produce sprayed with
  • Auxigro—instead choose organically grown produce
  • Fried chicken from fast food sources
  • Frostings and fillings
  • Gelatin
  • Grapes
  • Gravy Master
  • Instant soup mixes/Stocks
  • Kombu extract
  • L-cysteine
  • Low-fat/Diet foods
  • Many salad dressings/Croutons
  • Mayonnaise
  • Molasses
  • Most salty, powdered dry food mixes
  • Mushrooms, especially shiitake and enokitake
  • Mustards
  • Non-dairy creamers
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Peas
  • Pectin
  • Pickles
  • Salted peanuts (certain brands)
  • Potatoes
  • Powdered soup and sauce mixes certain brands)
  • Prawns
  • Processed cheese spread
  • Ramen noodles
  • Restaurant gravy from food service cans
  • Restaurant soups made from food service Soup base
  • Sausages/Processed meats/Cold cuts
  • Seasoned anything
  • Skim, 1%, 2%, non-fat, or dry milk
  • Some bagged salads and vegetables
  • Some peanut butters
  • Some spices
  • Soy sauce
  • Supermarket turkey & chicken (injected)
  • Table salts
  • Tofu and other fermented soy products
  • Tomato sauce/Stewed tomatoes
  • Walnuts
  • Whipped cream topping substitutes
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Xanthan gum/other “gums”

Addendum: for additional information of hidden glutamate in foods http://www.truthinlabeling.org/hiddensources.htm

96 thoughts on “Glutamate Food List

    Ultimately, just eat a whole foods diet full of fresh foods! For those who are glutamate sensitive, they may need to modify the amounts of foods containing glutamates, but the highest amounts are found in processed foods, foods we should all strive to avoid anyway. 🙂 –Patty

    But fermented foods are good for people too, as many of these listed. It’s all in how you incorporate it. A packaged free diet filled with organic fruits and veggies is an ideal base. If you’re healthy from Whole Foods first, you can consume other goods that benefit you too, but if they don’t, one should be able to feel that and discontinue. Most people don’t connect themselves to their food though. And so many don’t actually eat food.

    We need a limited quantity of glutamate for focus and consentration and for learning new things. The dangerous is exessive glutamate in processed foods and artifitial flavours.

    Organic (if you can afford it), fresh foods prepared in your own kitchen, as much as possible. It can be done, and the benefits are incredible. Olive oil (cold pressed, organic), coconut oil, and for high heat, avocado oil (until they screw that up). Most nuts – I make an incredible faux ranch dressing with cashews, lemons, garlic and herbs from my garden. It gets easier as you go along.

    I am not the author, but I avoid tuna because of the mercury in it, which is definitely bad for the brain. Concentrations of mercury go up, the bigger the fish is, because the big fish eat the smaller mercury-containing fish. Pectin, if gotten naturally from the fruits you eat, is fine. The processing of pectin for the commercial product leaves something to be desired – sugar beets are almost all GMO in the US, isopropanol alcohol leaves a chemical residue, even when the alcohol is allowed to dry off. I prefer an organic agar, which I order from France.

    MSG is a salt form of glutamic acid, a VERY common amino acid found NATURALLY in many foods to varying degrees. Even the human body produces some and uses it to produce body proteins, and neurotransmitters (brain chemicals).

    Over-consumption of MSG, glutamic acid, or other forms of glutamate can cause sensitivity in some people. Avoiding it is close to impossible. The key is knowing the food sources so you can limit your exposure if needed. -Patty

    Only self reported cases exist. Blind testing has shown that everyone tested that reported an ”msg allergy” felt no ill effects after eating significant portions of MSG containing foods.
    When they were not aware they were consuming it.

    It’s amazing how far people are willing to carry on with their illusions.

    I only recently found out that I have inherited genetic variants that cause me to be unable to break down glutamates at the usual rate. That solves a lot of confusion for me as I would always react to some foods with migraine, sometimes 48 hours after eating the food. I will still react with a migraine even to natural foods (tomatoes, mushrooms) or even when I’m not aware there has been any MSG added in the restuarant food. I think I might be an unwilling MSG detector. I got a migraine headache from eating one organic cherry tomato when I had no idea that tomatoes even had glutamates in them.

    I have SVT, a heart condition that can accelerate my heart rate up to 200 beats per minute. When I have MSG, ANY amount whether I know it or not, my heart goes off and sometimes takes three or fours hours to slow.

    Hi Julieanne, I had SVT too, which was usually triggered by exercise. I’d be on the elliptical and ba-dump! my heart rate would jump to ~220 bpm. Sometimes way too much coffee or a burst of adrenaline would trigger it as well. I never noticed that MSG triggered it, even when I put MSG on my popcorn (yes, I like MSG on popcorn!!!).

    Anyways, as you may know you can get that SVT fixed by having a cardiac ablation. I had it done a couple years ago, and haven’t had an episode since. The procedure wasn’t bad at all, actually it was kind of cool because the technology is amazing! And it’s AWESOME to be free of that annoying racing heart! If you have a chance to have an ablation, go for it. Especially if your episodes last for hours. That sounds really awful!

    My guess -Tyrone is motivated to counter the truth in this article- since who would be here, and further, who would comment a few times if they did not want to know more about free glutamate(and specifically, MSG) and it’s effects on the human body? I have seen this so many times. Truth is stated and detractors come. I believe it is called “green scaping” the opposite of grassroots movement (often times a purposeful effort by an industry to create division and increase confusion). I apologize if I am wrong, but this screams “green scaping” to me Tyrone. There are many white papers showing the dangers of MSG, Aspartate, Aspartame etc. Don’t be confused by a random comment from Tyrone:) MSG and its many names “natural flavors” etc are poison to the human body and there is endless lobbying to confuse the public about this danger.

    Tracy, I agree with you completely. Trolls are pretty much everywhere you go. And the industries you spoke of apparently have no concern about people…only about money. I am withdrawing from the med called Lyrica. It’s not an opioid but it is addictive, altho’ they don’t tell you that. Withdrawal causes or exacerbates the “glutamate storm” that goes on in the brain and body. The suffering is indescribable. (I had been on prescription opioids for about 12 years. Getting off them was not easy…but it was nothing in comparison to getting off Lyrica.). I had gotten off my low glutamate diet…now I’m sorry I did. As of today, I’m determined to be diligent… I desperately need some relief. This is one of the best articles I’ve read on the subject of glutamate and MSG. I have saved it to my homepage so I can refer back to it. It’s not an easy subject…that’s for sure. Sometimes it can be overwhelming. Thanks for your comments.

    They are foods that are high in glutamate. Most people are tolerant of glutamate, but for those who aren’t, this list helps them identify foods that may need to be consumed in moderation. -Patty

    No, the enriched foods are what this is referencing. Foods are only enriched if they are first refined, so this goes back to an earlier question…just avoid refined foods, favoring instead a diet of whole foods, and most people are fine. This list is for those who need to identify glutamate sources so they can limit intake. -Patty

    Great blog! Thanks for taking the time to do this. I had the same question about fermented foods as Tim. Would homemade fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, rejuvelac, almond cheese, etc., be damaging to the nerves as well?

    Glutamate is a VERY common amino acid found NATURALLY in many foods in varying amounts. Even the human body produces some and uses it to produce body proteins, and neurotransmitters (brain chemicals).

    Over-consumption of MSG, glutamic acid, or other forms of glutamate can cause sensitivity in some people. Avoiding it is close to impossible. The key is knowing the food sources so you can limit your exposure if needed. Fermented foods have many health benefits, so unless you don’t tolerate them, I would incorporate them regularly!
    -Patty

    indeed this is very helpful…We are starting our 7 year old in a glutamate reduce diet. He has ASD. He does need Probiotics though… Do comercial probiotics (BIO-Kult) also contain glutamate?

    There ARE some probiotics that produce amines and glutamate. I am not certain which ones, but you can read about it here: https://forums.phoenixrising.me/index.php?threads/why-probiotics-can-be-harmful-amines.4536/

    In my searching, I didn’t see any mention of soil-based probiotics producing glutamate. Also, you may find that once other high glutamate foods are out, some probiotics are tolerable. Often it’s about weighing risks to benefits and looking at total body load. I hope the diet is helpful! -Patty

    Homemade and store-bought fermented foods are naturally high in glutamate. For most, the health benefits of these food would far outweigh the risks. This list is to make people aware of the sources of glutamate in the diet so they can limit exposure if necessary. -Patty

    I have the same question. Fermented food at home is supposed to be so good for our biome, full of friendly bacteria from our home environment. What’s the problem with such food?

    MSG is a VERY common amino acid found NATURALLY in many foods to varying degrees. Even the human body produces some and uses it to produce body proteins, and neurotransmitters (brain chemicals).

    Over-consumption of MSG, glutamic acid, or other forms of glutamate can cause sensitivity in some people. Avoiding it is close to impossible. The key is knowing the food sources so you can limit your exposure if needed. Fermented foods have many health benefits, so unless you don’t tolerate them, I would incorporate them regularly!
    -Patty

    Great list. My 5 year old has Autism and we’ve had to cut out natural foods which contain msg too. That’s tomatoes, brocoli, grapes, green peas etc. If he has any of those, the aggressive behavior and meltdowns come back. We’ve been meltdown free for 6 months since removing msg/free glutamates from our diet. I no longer suffer from join pain either.

    I love this list thank you! I have a question though, how do you get your daily calcium requirement? I find I react to most things containing calcium & especially to calcium suppliments.
    Thanks & cheers

    I would need to gather more information about you specifcally to determine alternate forms of calcium. Personally, I have an unusual genetic variant (present in about 1 in 100,000 people) that makes it very difficult for me to tolerate much supplemental calcium. I find I am more tolerant if I add in extra magnesium when I take it. I’m not sure if that could be helpful to you. -Patty

    hi, can you please tell me which varient it is that is the calcium problem for you?!!
    I think I may have same problem. I get terrible bone pain and muscle spasms when I eat dairy

    Mine is a calcium channel error. I did genetic testing through Courtagen to discover this. What has resolved this issue for me is taking about twice as much magnesium glycinate as i do calcium (in mgs). I’ve also discovered this particular genetic issue can increase sensitivity to EMF exposure. Hope this is helpful!

    You can try oven cooking eggshells, then when cool grind then in a food processor (put a wet tea towel over the lid). (If ink stamped boil then oven cook to remove ink). Store it in the freezer, put a pinch in your food every now and then. The calcium form is Calcium Carbonate, better to eat with acidic food, as is alkaline, can make you burp a little bit. So a little often better than big doses. But no surprise ingredients like Sulphites, or gelatine or amino acids.

    I am obviously affected by glutamates, but nowhere do I see onion in this list. Onion is the worst culprit for me, it creates the same reactions as the other things on the list but apparently doesn’t have glutamate in it? Can you clear that one up? Thanks

    Liz, please read some of the other comments…many people have found benefit from this information. It’s not necessary for most people to avoid glutamates. I’m curious what brought you to the site. -Patty

    I appreciate this list so much! My dr just kept giving me anti anxiety meds which weren’t helping me. I’ve been off these foods for nearly three weeks and my anxiety is completely gone, migraines are greatly decreased and I can sleep at night again! No more insomnia! Thank you so much! Only folks with serious health problems can really understand how food is the base of everything!

    My husband and I started using bone broth protein powder believing it to be very healthy and beneficial but I ended up back in the hospital with my heart racing something terrible again and they never find anything! My anxiety skyrocketed and I was having horrible panic attacks and depression. My dr gave me more anti anxiety meds and I won’t take them. So I researched possible side affects of the bone broth and found out if you have a brain injury or condition you can have glutamate sensitivity. I found this list and realized I eat a lot of broth, tomato sauce, broccoli, and other “healthy” foods on the list and immediately went off all of it. I feel sooooo much better and even told my dr today about it. She seemed to feel silly for not catching on to this one herself!

    Hi Anna,
    Would you be able to share what you HAVE been eating as I find that when I take out all of the items listed as having glutamate I dont have much food/nutrition left. I already do not eat processed or enriched foods. I eat all whole foods but still find the restrictions hard and I dont want to end up undernourished. Thank you so much!

    I had insomnia and brain fog for months and stopped adding gelatin to my morning smoothy (was taking it for joint pain) I couldnt believe it would be the culprit…but have found im sleeping well again soon as i stopped taking it. Ive always known that flavouring, store sauces and soy sauce effect the quality of my sleep, but i hadnt considered the other foods. Im also sensitive to b vitamins and spirulina. Thanks for the list, will help balance how much glutamate im consuming in a day.

    Hello, interesting article, however I have a question.

    If somebody thinks that they may have excess glutamate ,(but they don’t), and they reduce their intake of glutamic acid drastically, could this mean that they actually reduce their GABA level as glutamic acid is used to produce GABA?

    I am not very knowledgeable about this subject so I apologize if what I said is incorrect.

    Kind regards,
    Ruairi

    That’s a great question. What I have found over the years is that patients will NOT continue a restricted diet for any length of time if they don’t see a benefit to it. Most patients who find our website have already determined they have a glutamate sensitivity and are looking for some guidance on what foods to avoid. I am not aware of anyone reading the article and then deciding to start the diet. I hope this helps answer your question. -Patty

    Thank you for the list. I’m wondering if reducing glutamate will help with OCD and fibromyalgia. I know after consuming MSG last year I had an ocular migraine. are coconut and olive oil ok? I’m concerned about losing weight.

    If glutamate sensitivity is driving your symptoms, lowering your intake could absolutely help. I am more suspicious of gastrointestinal imbalance, however. I would recommend you consult with either Francie Silverman or Patty Shipley. A phone consultation is an option if you’re not local to our practice.

    I’m one of those sensitive ones. Symptoms of dementia, muscle clenching, then weakness and extreme fatigue. Eating a free-form glutamate diet is not easy, but my symptoms didn’t give me much choice. What I can say is that things like walnuts and grapes have natural L-glutamate, not the free form version and have never given me a problem. I can handle some fermented things, like soy sauce in moderation. It’s only the lab produced version that causes a severe reaction for me. I make a lot of Asian stir-fly foods (homemade sauces) and slow cooker dishes like corn beef and cabbage, roasted chicken…whole foods. It’s better to focus on what you can eat and not what you can’t.

    NAC and taurine both scavenge glutamate and prevent or lessen binding to the NMDA receptor. NAC also provides cysteine which is the rate limiting step for glutathione synthesis. If you have brain glutamate issues you probably have coincident low glutathione in brain because the glutamate excitotoxicity causes ROS and uses up your antioxidants. Taurine calms microglia and prevents or lessens their activation which is part of the glutamate cascade of problems. Also mind your B vitamins. B6 especially the P5P form of it is essential to the function of the GAD enzyme which converts glutamate to GABA. The B’s work synergistically. So get a good active B complex like Thorne.

    I do a considerable amount of low-slow smoking of meats at 225-250 degrees (i.e. pork shoulder, brisket, turkey etc.) Does this type of well-controlled low-slow smoking in an electric smoker increase the free glutamate levels of the meat?

    INCORRECT!

    Low slow cooking (like making broths or stews) releases more glutamates from meats. You want fast cooking as possible. Medium to medium-rare cooking for meat is best for the lowest amount of free glutamates to be release.

    Often what tomato sauce brings is the acidity. I’ve sometimes been lacking tomatoes when I really wanted them for a recipe and have simply substituted something else that adds acidity. Lemons and limes work nicely here. Unfortunately, for a highly tomato-based recipe, there just isn’t anything like tomatoes!

    The content of free glutamate is different for different types of rice. I remember reading a study that mentioned free glutamate content in basmati rice being much higher than normal rice… and from personal experience, since I make my own gluten free bread from rice flower, I’ve found that some variations of rice flower give me symptoms of too much glutamate intake as well as rice flowers that contain rice bran… I’m guessing that these symptoms either come from excess glutamate in the specific rice type itself or either from there being an amount of rice bran in the flower

    Also, how can I get a comprehensive list of high and low glutamate natural foods? I already do not eat processed food but am realizing that many things with higher free glutamate, like walnuts and tomatoes, I do eat a lot of. Thank you!

    Also, I know that they say probiotics are important to gut and overall health. But it says not to eat fermented foods and these foods are highest in probiotics (like yogurt). What suggestions do you have, thank you so much

    What about too little glutmate. I had my amino’s tested. My L-Glutamine was average and my GABA too. But my glutamate was very low; 1 on a scale from 1-10.

    I have OCD. Low glutamate plays a role in schizophrenia and can lead to psychiatric illness.

    What about too little glutmate. I had my amino’s tested. My L-Glutamine was average and my GABA too. But my glutamate was very low; 1 on a scale from 1-10. I have OCD.

    Glutamate is important as an excitatory neurotransmitter. A deficiency will usually result in poor focus and brain/body fatigue. A deficiency is unusual. The first thing I would try to determine is if there was sufficient intake and proper digestion of protein, since all amino acids come from protein. -Patty

    I’ve become very sensitive in pregnancy. I had trouble with glutamates in my last two pregnancies but there was not enough information online about it. Third time round there is so much, and it’s coincided with pretty serious sleeping issues with my 4 year old son. I’ve taken the high glutamate foods out of my families diet, even though we ate a mostly Whole Foods diet, and my son has been sleeping well for the past week!!! I’m so thankful for articles like this and people who comment, because my son was suffering from something diet related, and I had no idea.

    My son, 6 has just been advised to remove glutamate from his diet. Can anyone recommend a place to access recipes.
    We eat very clean anyway and am struggling to find meal plans / school ideas.
    Thanks

    My son, 6 has just been advised to remove glutamate from his diet. Can anyone recommend a place to access recipes.
    We eat very clean anyway and am struggling to find meal plans / school ideas.
    Thanks in advance

    I’m 70, and have suffered from OCD since childhood, I guess it’s pervasive development disorder, and both my children have forms of it also. I take 1 mg Xanax at night to help me sleep, Im afraid to take medications because of side effects and afraid of supplements because I don’t trust their purity. I’m so tired of suffering and can’t afford 100% organic.

    Gaba is great for anxiety… benzo are so horrible I am getting off of mine. They make glutamate cause the most anxiety for benzo people!!! Gaba will calm you, cramp bark is good for relaxing tense muscles which also helps me calm down. Just my experience !!! Wish you the best!

    My glutamate levels are on 38!!! I am terrible scared . They said this can turn into a neurodegenerative disease. I am only 31. please help! I dont know where to go from here. This. Thia number can’t keep increasing if I dont want my neurons to be affected. I am getting depressed! Please can you offer any guidance?

    I’ve got celiac disease and need to avoid glutamate (cause anxiety). I have trouble finding any good to eat that doesn’t make me sick! Even tuna and makeral have glutamate!!! ?

    My neurologist suggested I give up glutamates because I was getting 15 – 30 migraines per month. Upon dropping free glutamates in 4 weeks I’ve had 7 migraines, a huge reduction for me.
    Thank you for this list.
    I’ve been missing chewing sugarless gum. I’m wondering if Xylitol is ok.

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