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IMP Taste Enhancer Chemical May be the New MSG

Monday, October 06, 2008 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: MSG, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) Italian researchers have discovered that certain chemicals increase the effectiveness of the taste-enhancing food additive monosodium glutamate (MSG), according to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

MSG is popular as a food additive because it activates the tongue's "umami" taste receptors. These receptors, which were only proven to exist six years ago by University of Miami School of Medicine researchers, produce a generalized sensation of good taste that highlights sweetness, decreases bitterness and balances out saltiness.

In addition to umami, the tongue is also able to distinguish between the flavors of sweet, salty, bitter and sour. Beyond these five basic flavors, all taste information is supplied by the nose.

Taste buds, or lingual papillae, are small clusters of 50 to 100 cells located on the surface of the tongue. Contrary to what many people are taught in grade school, every taste bud is able to detect all five flavors, regardless of its location.

Researchers from the Universita degli Studi di Milano tested the ability of chemical derivatives of guanosine 5'-phosphate (GMP) to enhance the flavor of MSG. In doing so, they were building on prior research showing that GMP and inosine 5'-monophosphate disodium salt (IMP) increase the intensity of glutamate.

"Systematic sensory studies on this synergism revealed that the umami intensity of aqueous solutions of MSG increased exponentially when IMP (or GMP) was added even in very low concentrations," lead researcher Paola Cairoli said.

All the derivatives tested were between 1.2 and 5.7 times more effective at enhancing MSG than IMP had been in prior studies.

According to Jacqueline Marcus from Jacqueline B. Marcus & Associates, MSG is appealing to the food industry because it can be used to reduce the sodium content of foods without affecting flavor.

In the same way, the IMP and GMP derivatives currently being researched could eventually achieve the same effect with even less MSG being used.

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