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Physiol Behav. 1991 May;49(5):833-41.

Basic properties of umami and effects on humans.

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  • 1Central Research Laboratories, Ajinomoto Co., Inc., Kawasaki, Japan.


This is a review of the taste of umami substances, and some related findings. The data demonstrate that, though the taste of the common umami substances such as MSG and IMP is mainly caused by their anions, the effects of their cations, such as Na, should not be ignored. The effects of cations approach the taste thresholds of umami substances. Although the taste threshold of MSG was slightly lower than that of Na, the threshold of IMP was found to be controlled by Na. However, the degree of saltiness was less than 10% above the threshold of the equivalent weight of NaCl. It was also found that the taste of IMP was probably caused by glutamic acid in saliva, since IMP itself has no umami taste. That is, IMP enhances the umami taste of MSG. Finally, comparison of umami sensitivity of Japanese and Americans revealed no difference.

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