Umami is classified as the 5th basic taste along with salty, sour, bitter, and salty. It’s a meaty or savory flavor. In Japanese, ‘Umami’ stands for a delicious savory taste.
Most people love using umami products because they are tasty and have a wide range of benefits. According to scientists, umami is the taste of inosinate, guanylate, and glutamate. The latter is also referred to as glutamic acid- an amino acid present in animal proteins and vegetables. You can find Inosinate in meat, and guanylate is present in plants.
Umami plays a crucial role in enhancing survival. You’ll be consuming umami products by eating foods that are rich in protein. The taste of umami alerts your system that the food you’ve eaten has protein.
Eating Umami products causes your body to secrete digestive juices and saliva to enhance protein digestion. Umami-rich products not only help in improving digestion, but they come with several other health benefits. For instance, they enhance satiety (which makes you feel full) to aid in weight loss. In this blog, we will cover a list of foods with high umami content; They include;
Soy products are derived from soybeans. Soybeans are eaten whole but can also be fermented or processed into different products like soy sauce, miso, tempeh, and tofu. Fermented or processed soybeans have increased levels of glutamate content.
Let’s look at the glutamate content for various soy-based products per 100 grams.
- Soybeans; 70 to 80mg
- Miso; 200 to 700mg
- Natto /fermented soybeans- 140mg
- Soy sauce; 400 to 1,700mg
Consuming soy-based products is associated with several health benefits, including improved fertility, especially in women, reduced blood cholesterol, plus fewer menopause symptoms.
Aged cheeses contain high levels of glutamate (umami compound). The protein present in cheese breaks down as the cheese ages into free amino acids. That happens via a process known as proteolysis, which increases free glutamic acid levels.
Very old cheeses like Italian parmesan contain the highest level of umami taste. So, you’ll only have to add a small amount to boost umami flavor on your meal.
This ancient Korean side dish was prepared using spices and vegetables. Lactobacillus bacteria is used to ferment the vegetables. That’s because the bacteria break down the vegetables by releasing digestive enzymes like amylases, lipase, and proteases.
Kimchi has protein molecules that are broken down into free amino acids via proteolysis. As a result, the levels of the kimchi umami compound increases. That explains why kimchi has 240mg of glutamate compound per 100 grams.
Kimchi is not only rich in umami compounds, but it comes with incredible health benefits such as lowering blood cholesterol and improving digestion.
Green tea lovers know that it’s indeed a healthy beverage. For instance, it lowers the levels of bad cholesterol and reduces type 2 diabetes risk. Besides, it helps in controlling weight gain.
Green is rich in glutamate compounds. As a result, it has a bitter, sweet, and umami taste. Dried green tea has the highest glutamate content, which is 220-670 mg per 100 grams.
The beverage contains a high level of theanine, which is an amino acid that’s identical to glutamate. Green tea’s bitter taste is a result of tannins and catechins substances.
The highest percentage of seafood are rich in Umami compounds. And they have both inosinate and glutamate. Inosinate is a part of the umami compound and works great as a food additive. Some popular seafood with high levels of umami compound include;
- Dried baby sardines
- Bonito flakes
- Scallops and anchovies.
Tomatoes are good sources of umami flavor, though plant-based. They enhance a sweet and savory flavor since they have high glutamic acid levels.
A regular tomato has 150 to 250 mg glutamic acid per 100 grams. Cherry tomatoes have 170 to 280 mg per 100 grams.
You can increase umami flavor in tomatoes by drying them. The drying process reduces moisture and increases glutamate. In fact, dried tomatoes have about 650 to 1,140 mg glutamic acid per 100 grams (3.5 ounces).
Regular tomatoes contain 150–250 mg of glutamic acid per 3.5 ounces (100 grams), while cherry tomatoes provide 170–280 mg in the same serving.
Tomatoes are also rich in minerals and vitamins such as Vitamin K, Vitamin C, folate, Potassium, and antioxidants (plant-based).
Meats are also good sources of umami flavor. They are rich in glutamate compounds and inosinate, just like seafood. Below are types of meats and their inosinate and glutamate content per 100 grams;
|Beef||80 mg||10 mg|
|Pork||230 mg||10 mg|
|Dry/ cured ham||0 mg||340 mg|
|Bacon||30 mg||198 mg|
You can increase glutamic acid in meat by processing it or drying it. That’s because, during these processes, proteins are broken down, completing, thereby producing free glutamic acid.
You can also get umami flavor from chicken egg yolks as it contains 10 to 20 mg glutamate per 100 grams. Other foods that are rich in umami flavor include mushrooms and seaweeds, among others.
Umami is the fifth among the basic tastes. It’s meaty/ savory, and the taste is triggered by glutamic acid or amino acid glutamate present in umami products. Umami flavor improves flavor on dishes and helps promote satiety.