MSG Facts vs. Fiction Explained in Recent News Reports

MSG glutamate umami facts.jpg

Science Friday, a nonprofit organization and trusted source for news about science, reports that there is no basis for claims that MSG may cause allergies. And a new study finds that umami flavor in the form of MSG promotes feelings of fullness, helping to satisfy appetite and potentially help with...

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New Video and Infographic Explain Why MSG is Perfectly Safe


According to the American Chemical Society (ACS), monosodium glutamate (MSG) has suffered from inaccurate consumer perceptions for too long - so the non-profit organization has decided to put the consumer myths about MSG to rest. In a new video released in August 2014, ACS corrects the myths about ...

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Glutamate Is Natural

Glutamate Is Natural

Glutamate is common throughout nature. It is a component of your body and your foods. The taste-imparting property of glutamate has long been used around the world to enhance the palatability of foods.

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MSG Safe Use

MSG Safe Use

Over one hundred years ago, Professor Kikunae Ikeda of Tokyo Imperial University discovered the taste that is now recognized internationally as “umami.” It has been established for more than 10 years now that umami, which is the taste imparted by monosodium glutamate (MSG), stands alongside sweet, sour, salty and bitter as one of the five recognized basic tastes.

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Benefits of Glutamate

miso soup with seaweed.jpgProfessor Kikunae Ikeda from Japan in 1908 isolated glutamate from kelp and pinpointed it as the key flavor in stock made from seaweed. Professor Ikeda realized that glutamate gave foods a unique taste and named this taste "umami," the fifth basic taste after sweet, salty, sour and bitter.

Umami and Food Palatability

Shizuko Yamaguchi and Kumiko Ninomiya

Journal of Nutrition. 2000;130:921S-926S.

Faculty of Applied Bioscience, Department of Nutritional Science, Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technical Committee, Umami Manufacturers Association of Japan, Tokyo, Japan

Umami is the term that identifies the taste of substances such as L-glutamate salts, which were discovered by Ikeda in 1908. Umami is an important taste element in natural foods; it is the main taste in the Japanese stock "dashi," and in bouillon and other stocks in the West. The umami taste has characteristic qualities that differentiate it from other tastes, including a taste-enhancing synergism between two umami compounds, L-glutamate and 5'-ribonulceotides, and a prolonged aftertaste. The key qualitative and quantitative features of umami are reviewed in this paper. The continued study of the umami taste will help to further our general understanding of the taste process and improve our knowledge of how the taste properties of foods contribute to appropriate food selection and good nutrition.

Glutamate is not only taken in with our food supply but is also synthesized by our bodies. From a nutritional perspective, glutamate is a non-essential amino acid. Most dietary glutamate is rapidly metabolized in the gut and is used as an energy source. This paper shows that the body produces its own glutamate for a number of essential functions.

Intestinal Glutamate Metabolism

Peter J. Reeds, Douglas G. Burrin, Barbara Stoll and Farook Jahoor
U.S. Department of Agriculture/Agricultural Research Service, Children's Nutrition Research Center, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX

Journal of Nutrition. 2000;130:978S-982S.

Although it is well known that the intestinal tract has a high metabolic rate, the substrates that are used to generate the necessary energy remain poorly established, especially in fed animals. Under fed conditions, the quantification of substrate used by the gut is complicated by the fact that potential oxidative precursors are supplied from both the diet and the arterial circulation. To circumvent this problem, and to approach the question of the compounds used to generate ATP in the gut, we combined measurements of portal nutrient balance with enteral and intravenous infusions of [U-13C]substrates. We studied rapidly growing piglets that were consuming diets based on whole-milk proteins. The results revealed that 95% of the dietary glutamate presented to the mucosa was metabolized in first pass and that of this, 50% was metabolized to CO2. Dietary glucose was oxidized to a very limited extent, and arterial glutamine supplied no >15% of the CO2 production by the portal-drained viscera. Glutamate was the single largest contributor to intestinal energy generation. The results also suggested that dietary glutamate appeared to be a specific precursor for the biosynthesis of glutathione, arginine and proline by the small intestinal mucosa. These studies imply that dietary glutamate has an important functional role in the gut. Furthermore, these functions are apparently different from those of arterial glutamine, the substrate that has received the most attention.