Although it is not widely known or acknowledged in the western world, Umami (pronounced “oo mommy”) is the fifth taste. It has a pleasant savoury flavour and is distinct from the other tastes of; sweet, salty, sour and bitter.
It is obviously a Japanese word, and is commonly recognised in Asia, but is not well known by the public in the West.
Latest research into umami has found that it may have significant health benefits.
The studies have been published recently in the January 2015 edition of the journal “Flavour” and show that Umami could improve the flavour of low fat foods, making them more appealing.
Ole Mouritsen, Guest Editor for the Flavour journal’s special series on umami and Professor of biophysics at the University of Denmark, said; “In general, our understanding of taste is inferior to our knowledge of the other human senses. An understanding and description of our sensory perception of food requires input from many different scientific disciplines.”
Umami is the taste that is triggered by the body when Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) is consumed.
So MSG is bad right?
No – according to these studies, naturally occurring MSG is actually good for you, and especially with elderly people.
Receptors for this taste are not only in the mouth but the gut as well, and the study has shown that there is likely a loss of this taste sensation as a person ages. This results in loss of appetite, weight loss and poor overall health
Researchers suggest that it may be the diseases that elderly folk suffer and the resultant medications which may cause taste disorders and also saliva loss. Increasing saliva production may improve general taste as well increasing the sensitivity to umami. Increasing consumption of umami containing foods may also be a benefit.
Written by Rachelle Williams, The Green Food Safety Coach.