The Umami Taste – The Satisfying Taste


The Glutamate receptor

People taste umami through taste receptors specific to glutamate.


Inherent to the discussion of Umami and the glutamate receptors is the issue of MSG – mono sodium glutamate.


See Mercola: Umami/MSG  


While MSG and umami may be chemically similar, there is an important distinction that significantly affects the way it reacts in your body. Umami flavor, or natural glutamic acid (glutamate), found in natural foods is "bound" to other amino acids or proteins. The glutamic acid that is MSG is not. As reported by Smithsonian magazine:3


"Glutamates that occur naturally in food come intertwined with different chemicals or fiber, which the body is naturally inclined to regulate, explains Amy Cheng Vollmer, professor of biology at Swarthmore College. MSG, however, comes without the natural components of food that help the body regulate glutamic levels. It's like taking an iron supplement versus obtaining iron from spinach or red meat: the iron supplement creates an expressway between the iron and your bloodstream that you wouldn't find in natural iron sources. 'The bottom line here is context is everything,' Vollmer adds."


See: Smithsonian Magazine: ‘ It’s the Umami, Stupid. Why the Truth About MSG is So Easy to Swallow’    

Link Here



Natural food sources of glutamic acid, Umami, are superior as they are integrated into a whole food.



Natural Food sources of Glutamate:

  • Mace and nutmeg
  • Turmeric
  • Kombu, seaweed
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Fermented soy products like soy sauce, tempeh and miso
  • Pickled plums (ume) and many other pickled vegetables and fruits
  • Miso
  • Parmesan
  • Marmite/Vegemite
  • vine-ripened Tomatoes
  • cumin,
  • smoked paprika,
  • red bell pepper
  • various fermented bean/fish pastes/sauces
  • Porcini and shiitake mushrooms - — the darker, the better
  • truffles
  • Dried fungi
  • Fermented soybeans are the richest non-animal sources of umami
  • garlic
  • onion
  • chili powder
  • salt
  • white pepper
  • green tea
  • peas, beets, spinach, carrots, green peppers and corn
  • asparagus, peas, sweet corn, beans, carrots, sweet potatoes, soybeans, cabbage, avocados, spinach and
  • winter squash
  • Artichoke sauce
  • Legumes
  • Black olives
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Aged and blue-veined cheeses
  • Pork, beef, lamb, turkey and chicken; especially mature birds and dark meat), aged steaks
  • Shellfish, especially oysters 
  • Almonds, walnuts and other tree nuts
  • Roasting, browning, grilling, sautéing, and caramelizing foods increases the amount of umami in foods.
  • Toasted Nuts and Seeds



Other Resources


How to unlock the 'fifth taste' of umami, which makes foods savory and satisfying