A previous blog by dietitian and former nutrition professor Christine Rosenbloom calls upon consumers to “savor the flavor with umami” during National Nutrition Month (March) — and every month.
According to Dr. Rosenbloom, “Taste is the number 1 reason why we choose the foods we love to eat. Sure, good health and nutrients are important to a dietitian, but taste rules. This dietitian savors the flavors of food by enhancing the taste of foods with umami. Most of you know about the basic tastes of sweet, sour, salty and bitter, but umami is the 5th taste, with specific receptors on our tongue for this flavor enhancer. Glutamate, an amino acid, is the trigger for umami taste receptors. When we eat foods with high levels of free glutamate, we stimulate the receptors for a real taste treat.”
Delish.com has an excellent article on how to add umami to your cooking, with tips about using umami-rich ingredients. Another simple method is to use monosodium glutamate (MSG) at home to impart umami flavor and reduce sodium intake. MSG is a simply a sodium salt of glutamate. “Using 2/3 salt and 1/3 MSG means a 25% reduction in sodium,” says Chef Chris Koetke, who is a guest blogger on MSGdish.
MSG has gotten a bad rap that is undeserved, as Katherine Zeratsky, RDN, LD, Mayo Clinic, explains, noting that MSG has been used as a food additive for decades. “Over the years, the FDA has received many anecdotal reports of adverse reactions to foods containing MSG, however researchers have found no definitive evidence of a link between MSG and these symptoms.”
More about the umami flavor: Chefs Explain Umami, That Fifth Taste We Can’t Get Enough Of
More about MSG’s proven safety: The History of MSG Safety