This Surprising Flavor May Make You Eat Less (and 4 Ways to Find It)

by Lexi Petronis

CN Digital ArchiveCN Digital Archive
Our, sweet, salty, bitter...these are the four basic "tastes," right? But there's also umami--which translates to something like "savory" in Japanese (the "meaty" flavor in some cheeses, for example)--and it just might help keep you from overeating, according to a new study.

The study--published in the The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition--suggests that umami, which is also known as monosodium glutamate (or MSG), may make foods more appetizing--and, as a result, also make us feel fuller, faster.

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Researchers asked 27 study subjects to eat the same breakfast...but gave some of them a high-protein soup with an MSG-enzyme combo, and others a bowl of soup without the MSG. Both groups later ate the exact same lunch. The people who ate the soup with MSG ate less of their lunch--but said they felt full.

The researchers think these results might suggest that umami may play a role in regulating how much we eat.

Interesting! So where might one find natural sources of umami?

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Tomatoes and tomato sauce: As tomatoes ripen, the levels of glutamate increase, making them taste more "meaty" (another descriptor for umami).

Mushrooms: These also register high on the umami scale, lending a savory taste (as well as fiber, which also helps keep you full).

Parmesan: While most cheeses--especially the pungent kinds--have umami, Parmesan is said to have the most natural levels of glutamate.

Shellfish: Clams, scallops, mussels, and oysters are all high in glutamate.

Umami! Who knew? What are your favorite sources?

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