A Century after Its Discovery, Umami’s Benefits Keep Increasing

By July 3, 2018 News

TOKYO (July 2, 2018) – Umami, known as the savory taste, was discovered more than a century ago, yet recent research continues to document additional umami benefits. 

 Umami benefits

Currently underway is a year-long recognition of umami’s 110th anniversary since its extraordinary discovery in 1908. At one event this year, participants at the Asian Congress of Dietetics in Hong Kong will discuss this latest umami research. The unique benefits of umami, including umami’s dietary significance, will be addressed during an Asian Congress of Dietetics (ACD) lunch symposium on Friday, July 6. The symposium ties in directly to the theme of the 7th ACD, which is “The Rise of Nutrition and Dietetics in Asia,” being held July 6-8 at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

The principal speaker at the lunch symposium will be Dr. Snigdha Misra, who is chair of the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at International Medical University, in Malaysia. Dr. Snigdha will present her recent research among patients in a nursing home, demonstrating that umami supports nutrition among the elderly. Dr. Snigdha also will discuss how foods with umami seasonings are effective in reducing sodium intake and can help maintain normal blood pressure, especially among the elderly.

Dr. Snigdha notes, “The elderly face challenges in appetite due to decline in taste sensitivity. The addition of excessive sauces or dressings may make food appetizing, but could be detrimental to health due to the high sodium content. Umami enables food to be flavorful while lowering the sodium content of the food and stimulating the appetite.”

According to the International Glutamate Information Service, sponsor of the lunch symposium, “It is fitting that the Asian Congress of Dietetics this year is focusing on the rise of nutrition and dietetics in Asia. It was in Japan that 110 years ago Professor Kikunae Ikeda identified the ‘glutamic taste’ after isolating it from kelp broth. Dr. Ikeda was the first scientist to identify the unique properties of glutamate. He named the taste of glutamate ‘umami,’ which has a distinctive taste that is different from sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Umami today is widely recognized as one of the five basic tastes. Dr. Ikeda’s driving goal was to improve nutrition of the Japanese with his umami seasoning. He has been designated as one of Japan’s 10 greatest inventors for his discovery.”

The International Glutamate Information Service (IGIS) is a non-profit organization communicating science-based information about umami, glutamate, and monosodium glutamate (umami seasoning). For more information, visit glutamate.org.

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