Glutamate is an amino acid that is found in virtually every food. It’s a big part of protein-rich foods like meat, eggs and cheese, but is also found in fruits and vegetables. And, it is what’s responsible for giving foods the umami (savory) flavor that makes them taste delicious.
Within food, glutamate is either attached to other amino acids in the form of a protein (bound) or by itself (free). The more free glutamate there is, the more umami flavor the food will have. There are a few variables that impact how much free glutamate is in a food
Watermelon is my favorite summertime treat: cold, juicy, and sweet. Last year, at a July 4th get-together, as I was cutting up watermelon, another holiday party guest suggested I sprinkle my slice with a pinch of salt. I thought “salty watermelon?” I’m a dietitian who encourages people to cut down on salt! But sure enough: instead of tasting salty, the watermelon popped with sweetness.
“Oh, we always make sure to ask for no MSG when we eat Chinese food.” “I never allow my kids to eat anything with MSG.” “We’d never eat at any restaurant that uses MSG.” “It’s horrendous that MSG is even allowed to be used in food that could be given to kids.”
These are comments I’ve actually heard from consumers and patients. What these same consumers have actually done is let me know they are very misinformed. How? Read on.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) has long been acknowledged as a superior flavor enhancer, delivering the great taste of umami. But did you know it also has added value as doing good for your body?
Among its benefits, MSG can help the generalized population of Americans who have been encouraged to decrease sodium consumption; benefit specific individuals with high blood pressure who must decrease sodium intake; and aid vulnerable populations such as malnourished elderly needing a more nutritious diet.
What’s junk science? It’s “pseudo-science.” It’s when someone or some group with an agenda uses – or references – poorly done research to attempt to prove a point they want to make. It’s also when such persons or groups twist the conclusion of good research to fit an agenda. It’s misleading but it happens all the time in news stories. At best, junk science is misleading. When it’s intentional, it’s almost fraudulent.
To help sort out all the consumer confusion caused by junk science, the American Society of Nutrition, the American College of Nutrition, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics formed a partnership called the Food and Nutrition Science Alliance. The Alliance developed a list of “Ten Red Flags of Junk Science” examples, according to Tufts University.