Asians had originally used the “kombu” seaweed’s broth as a flavor enhancer, without understanding that glutamic acid was its flavor-enhancing component. In 1908, a multi-million-dollar industry was born when Professor Kikunae Ikeda of the University of Tokyo isolated monosodium glutamate using kombu. He noted that the Glutamate had a distinctive taste, different from sweet, sour, bitter and salty; he gave this taste the name “umami”. Umami, translates roughly to savory or meaty in the English language – or as Vogue food writer Jeffrey Steingarten once described it, “Supreme Deliciousness!” Read more
MSG was first condemned in 1968, when a physician, Robert Ho Man Kwok, contacted the New England Journal of Medicine with a letter describing Chinese Restaurant Syndrome. “[It] usually begins 15 to 20 minutes after I have eaten the first dish, and lasts for about two hours,” noted Kwok. “The most prominent symptoms are numbness at the back of the neck, gradually radiating to both arms and the back, general weakness, and palpitations.” Read more
Although glutamate is naturally occurring in many foods, it is frequently added as a flavor enhancer. Foods containing large amounts of free glutamate, such as tomatoes, mushrooms and cheese have long been used to obtain savory flavors in dishes. In fact, we consume about 20–40 times more naturally occurring glutamate in the food that we eat than we do MSG. Read more
Glutamate is one of the most common amino acids found in nature. Glutamate is also produced in the human body and binds with other amino acids to form a structural protein.
When glutamate binds to a protein molecule it is tasteless. Fermentation, aging, ripening and cooking liberate free glutamate. Glutamate is a crucial component of the taste of cheese Read more
The flavor enhancing properties of glutamate have been scientifically investigated in many contexts. For each food, there is an optimum glutamate concentration. Some foods, however, are not improved by the addition of glutamate – noticeably sweet foods and some particularly bitter foods. Like any seasoning, the optimal concentration of umami taste varies widely between individual consumers. Read more
Ever leave a Chinese food restaurant and find yourself hungry only minutes after departing? A team of scientists working at the in the University of Madrid found that when given to rats, MSG produces a 40% increase in appetite. The scientists speculate that MSG affects the arcuate nucleus area of the brain and so prevents proper functioning of the body’s appetite control mechanisms. According to this hypothesis, consuming foods with large quantities of MSG causes one to feel hungrier. Read more
- Glutamate is everywhere in nature. It is naturally present in the organs and tissues of the human body, in our digestive system, brain, and blood.
- Virtually everyone consumes glutamate each and every day. Glutamate occurs naturally in many foods we eat, including: proteins, ripe tomatoes, parmesan cheese, mushrooms, peas, and corn.
- The amount of MSG that is ingested as a food additive is approximately 1/1000th of the total glutamate already present in our body. Read more