AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 27, Number 2, 2018

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Savory Foods May Promote Healthy Eating Through Effects on the Brain

Researchers have found that consuming a broth rich in umami—or savory taste—can cause subtle changes in the brain that promote healthy eating behaviors and food choices, especially in women at risk of obesity.

Umami is a Japanese word to express a delicious, savory meal, and it represents one of the five basic tastes, together with sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. A key component of umami taste is glutamate, a naturally occurring non-essential amino acid that can be found in nearly all foods, and especially in foods high in protein such as dairy products, fish, and meat.

Previous experimental studies have shown that intake of a broth or soup supplemented with monosodium glutamate (MSG), a sodium salt of glutamate, prior to a meal can decrease appetite and food intake, especially in women with a propensity to overeat and gain weight. In a study, researchers evaluated changes in the brains of healthy young women after they consumed chicken broth with or without MSG added.

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