Glutamate gives many foods a special touch. As a flavor enhancer glutamate is controversial. Glutamate: pleasure or danger? The stomach growls loudly, but the desire to cook is limited. Luckily, there are still soups in the cupboard. Quickly tore open a bag of Asian noodles, doused with boiling water, stirred and ready. Hmm, tastes really intense and somehow own - just umami. Umami is the Japanese word for delicious and spicy aroma. The sonorous flavor enhancer, typical of the Asian cuisine, is called Glutamate in this country. Glutamate is sweet, sour, bitter and salty the fifth flavor.
What is glutamate?
Glutamate is an endogenous protein component that is also found in foods such as tomatoes, meat and soybeans. Humans need the substance as messenger substance (neurotransmitter) for the transmission of information in the brain. Glutamate is bound to proteins in many foods and is unbound as a free glutamate. Taste-enhancing effect only the free glutamate.
The food industry has been using the umami effect for over 40 years, using glutamate in the production of ready-to-serve and frozen meals, as well as spice blends and snack foods. Because the neurotransmitter can intensify the intrinsic taste of foods such as herbs, vegetables and meat, which is lost during heating or freezing, in the brain. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), glutamate has no harmful effect on the organism.
Nevertheless, glutamate intolerance or allergy occurs in some people. In the 1970s, the taste enhancer caused negative headlines with the "China Restaurant Syndrome." At the time, many visitors complained of side effects such as nausea, headache, and severe palpitations after consuming Chinese dishes, and scientists considered the possible link between symptoms and glutamate consumption to the bottom.
In a large-scale study, subjects were given food with and without glutamate, without being able to tell the difference. The result corresponds to the evaluations of today's scientists: they could not establish a concrete connection between the symptoms and the intake of glutamate. An allergy to glutamate could therefore not be clearly demonstrated. However, there were a few discomforts when eating dishes containing large amounts of glutamate on an empty stomach.
Incidentally, glutamate has nothing in common with gluten, the gluten protein in cereals, against which many people have an allergy.
Glutamate: side effects and consequences
Anyone who has no problems with glutamate-containing food, his soup from the bag in the future, without hesitation eat. However, the protein component is also added to foods of low quality. In this meadow, any nibbles such as chips are very tasty and the enjoyment of unrestrained. One of the side effects of glutamate is therefore certainly overweight. Nutrition experts therefore recommend high-quality foods such as organic products, which manage without any added glutamate. This includes fresh herbs and spices.
When eating ready meals from bag and box, it depends on a healthy level. It is worthwhile, then, to study the list of ingredients at the next purchase. For here glutamate hides behind the different names monosodium glutamate, flavor enhancer or behind the numbers E 620 to E 625. Organic manufacturers occasionally use the flavor enhancer yeast extract. Under the harmless-sounding name yeast extract, however, there is nothing else than weakly concentrated glutamate.