Author: BBC Health
The ability to taste umami in food (the fifth taste) could be beneficial for overall health, particularly in older people, Japanese researchers suggest.
In a new study, published in the journal Flavour, scientists from Tohoku University Graduate School of Dentistry in Japan developed an umami taste sensitivity test and used it on 44 elderly patients. The taste tests revealed that the elderly patients who had lost their taste for umami also complained of appetite and weight loss.
Those who had problems tasting umami complained that food was no longer palatable and they were not eating normally.
All of the patients were aged over 65 so their loss of taste could be due to aging, the study said.
But the researchers also suggested that diseases suffered by elderly patients and side effects from their medications could cause reduced salivation, leading to taste disorders.
The journal’s press release noted: “Despite the widely held belief that monosodium glutamate (MSG) is an unhealthy addition to food, researchers from Tohoku University Graduate School of Dentistry, Japan, show that the taste it triggers, umami, is important for health, especially in elderly people.”
“Thus, umami taste function seems to play an important role in the maintenance of oral and overall health,” the study authors concluded.