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Br J Nutr. 2008 Apr;99(4):904-8. doi: 10.1017/S000711450788295X. Epub 2008 Jan 2.

Taste sensitivity for monosodium glutamate and an increased liking of dietary protein.

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Department of Human Biology, Maastricht University, PO Box 616, Maastricht 6200, MD, The Netherlands and Top Institute Food & Nutrition (TIFN), PO Box 557, Wageningen 6700, AN, The Netherlands.


The aim of the present study was to determine individuals' taste threshold for monosodium glutamate (MSG) alone and in combination with inosine 5'-monophosphate (IMP-5) and to examine if this threshold was related to an increase in sensory properties (including pleasantness of taste) and/or to one's preference for dietary protein over carbohydrate and fat. Using the triangle tasting method, the taste threshold was determined for thirty-six women and twenty-four men. Thresholds varied from zero to infinite as determined using a clear soup with added MSG in the concentration range of 0.1 to 0.8 % (w/w) MSG. Subjects rated fourteen sensory properties of the soup and also their 'liking', 'eating frequency' and 'preference' of twenty-two common high-protein, high-carbohydrate and high-fat food items. The taste threshold (and therefore sensitivity) of MSG was lowered from 0.33 (sem 0.24) to 0.26 (sem 0.22) % MSG when 0.25 % (w/w) IMP-5 was added. None of the sensory properties assessed was associated with the taste threshold of MSG +/- 0.25 % IMP-5 in the overall study population. However, the taste descriptor 'meatiness' was associated with the threshold data for individuals who could taste concentrations of <or= 0.4 % MSG. 'Liking' and 'preference' scores for protein were found to be related to the threshold of MSG +/- 0.25 % IMP-5. From this study population we conclude that the taste threshold of MSG in combination with IMP-5 does appear to predict one's 'liking' of as well as 'preference' for high-protein foods.

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