A recent (Feb. 3, 2017) article in Business Insider, noting that monosodium glutamate (MSG) occurs naturally in many flavorful foods, poses the question, “How do you get free glutamates in your food naturally?”

The article explains: “Monosodium glutamate is a powerful flavor enhancer that, despite what you may have heard, is widely accepted in the scientific community as a safe additive. In fact, MSG or other ‘free glutamates’ occur naturally in many of the most flavorful foods, some of which have been used to enhance flavor in cooking for millennia.”

And how does MSG make foods flavorful? Foods that are high in glutamate (glutamic acid, an amino acid that is part of many proteins) impart the umami taste. The article notes that research has proven that MSG and glutamate-rich foods trigger special receptors in the mouth, “unlocking the savory taste known as umami.”

According to the Umami Information Center, here are some foods that are high in glutamate (in mg/100g) and therefore rich in the umami taste:

Marmite: 1960 mg

Soy sauce: 400–1700 mg

Parmesan cheese: 1200–1680 mg

Vegemite: 1430 mg

Roquefort cheese: 1280 mg

Dried shiitake mushrooms: 1060 mg

Oyster sauce: 900 mg

Miso: 200-700 mg

Green tea: 220–670 mg

Anchovies: 630 mg

Dry-cured ham: 340 mg

Tomatoes: 140–250 mg

Clams: 210 mg

Peas: 200 mg

Cheddar cheese: 180 mg

Oysters: 40–150 mg

Scallops: 140 mg

Shrimp: 120 mg

Corn: 70–110 mg

Potatoes: 30–100 mg


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