Umami flavour as a means of regulating food intake and improving nutrition and health

Nutr Health. 2012 Jan;21(1):56-75. doi: 10.1177/0260106012445537.


Diet and lifestyle have an impact on the burden of ill health and non-communicable ailments such as cardiovascular disease (including hypertension), obesity, diabetes, cancer and certain mental illnesses. The consequences of malnutrition and critical unbalances in the diet with regard to sugar, salt and fat are becoming increasingly manifest in the Western world and are also gradually influencing the general health condition for populations in developing countries. In this topical mini-review I highlight the lack of deliciousness and umami (savoury) flavour in prepared meals as a possible reason for poor nutritional management and excess intake of salt, fat and sugar. I argue that a better informed use of the current scientific understanding of umami and its dependence of the synergetic relationship between monosodium glutamate and certain 5'-ribonucleotides and their action on the umami taste receptors will not only provide better-tasting and more flavoursome meals but may also help to regulate food intake, in relation to both overeating and nutritional management of elderly and sick individuals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Appetite Regulation*
  • Dietary Fats / adverse effects
  • Dietary Sucrose / adverse effects
  • Flavoring Agents* / pharmacology
  • Food Additives* / pharmacology
  • Food Preferences*
  • Food Safety
  • Humans
  • Nutrition Disorders / prevention & control
  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary / adverse effects
  • Sodium Glutamate* / pharmacology
  • Taste Buds
  • Taste*


  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Flavoring Agents
  • Food Additives
  • Sodium Chloride, Dietary
  • Sodium Glutamate