A recent article, noting that monosodium glutamate (MSG) occurs naturally in many flavorful foods, poses the question, “How do you get free glutamates in your food naturally?”

The article, appearing in Business Insider, explains: “Monosodium glutamate is a powerful flavor enhancer that, despite what you may have heard, is widely accepted in the scientific community as a safe additive. In fact, MSG or other ‘free glutamates’ occur naturally in many of the most flavorful foods, some of which have been used to enhance flavor in cooking for millennia.”

Umami Seasoning Unlocking the savory taste known as umami.

And how does MSG make foods flavorful? Foods that are high in glutamate (glutamic acid, an amino acid that is part of many proteins) impart the umami taste.

The article notes that research has proven that MSG and glutamate-rich foods trigger special receptors in the mouth, “unlocking the savory taste known as umami.”

According to the Umami Information Center, here are some foods that are high in glutamate (in mg/100g), which therefore impart the umami taste:

Marmite: 1960 mg
Soy sauce: 400-1700 mg
Parmesan cheese: 1200-1680 mg
Vegemite: 1430 mg
Roquefort cheese: 1280 mg
Dried shiitake mushrooms: 1060 mg
Oyster sauce: 900 mg
Miso: 200-700 mg
Green tea: 220-670 mg
Anchovies: 630 mg
Dry-cured ham: 340 mg
Tomatoes: 140-250 mg
Clams: 210 mg
Peas: 200 mg
Cheddar cheese: 180 mg
Oysters: 40-150 mg
Scallops: 140 mg
Shrimp: 120 mg
Corn: 70-110 mg
Potatoes: 30-100 mg

Learn more:

This article is reprinted with permission from MSGdish.org (blog).