Glutamate is the purest taste of umami, the fifth basic taste. Umami taste receptors have a special affinity for free glutamate.
We consume between 10g and 20g of glutamate from our diet, of which glutamate from seasoning or condiments is less than 10%.
Monosodium glutamate is the sodium salt of amino acids found in protein rich foods. It is found naturally in many foods and can also be added to foods to enhance flavor. MSG in the crystal form is produced by fermentation, a process similar to that used in making wine, vinegar and yogurt. Carbohydrates from corn or sugar cane are fermented to produce glutamate, which is purified and crystallized before drying. The finished product is a pure, white crystal which dissolves easily and blends well in many recipes.
The body treats glutamate in exactly the same way whether it comes from the food we eat or is added as seasoning in the form of monosodium glutamate (MSG).
Glutamate is important for healthy metabolism. However, most of the dietary glutamate we consume is used as fuel by the cells of the digestive system.
Increasing the umami taste in food by increasing the level of free glutamate can result in salt (sodium) and fat-reduced recipes which still taste satisfying.
Reducing table salt by using MSG reduces the sodium content of recipes, as MSG has two-thirds less sodium than table salt.
Only a small amount of added glutamate is required to optimize umami taste; using more won’t do you any harm but, as with salt, the food might not taste as good.
The extensive body of research which exists about this widely used ingredient has been reviewed by independent scientists and regulatory authorities throughout the world – all have found MSG to be safe.
Numerous well-conducted scientific studies confirm that MSG is not related to any adverse health outcomes and is safe for the general public to consume.