Umami 'could help weight loss'
Scientists claim the flavour that gives food its "deliciousness" could help with weight loss and regulating appetite.
Umami, which means delicious in Japanese, is recognised as the fifth sense of taste - the others being sweet, salty, sour and bitter - and helps people to fill full, according to new research from the University of Sussex.
It is the chemical glutamate, a protein found in meat and other savoury foods such as Marmite, parmesan and shiitake mushrooms, which gives food its tastiness, a spokeswoman said.
Professor Martin Yeomans, who was involved in the study based on the psychology research of Dr Una Masic, said: "We know from past research, including previous work at Sussex, that foods with a high protein content tend to satisfy your appetite better than carbohydrate and fat-rich foods.
"So if protein is satisfying, and umami signals the presence of protein; in this study we asked whether the presence of the umami taste itself reduced subsequent appetite."
The research, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, looked at the effects of two common food additives on levels of hunger: monosodium glutamate (MSG) and inosine monophosphate (IMP), which are known to produce the flavour of umami.
They were added to both a low-energy version of a spiced carrot soup and the same soup with energy added covertly as a mixture of protein and carbohydrate.
Dr Masic then tested how hungry 26 healthy volunteers felt and how much they consumed at a later meal.
The soups enhanced with the umami-taste were found to reduce the amount subsequently eaten by participants when compared to the same soup without added umami, tests suggested.
Those who ate the umami soup also did not feel hungrier as a consequence of eating less, the university spokeswoman said.
The effects of umami proved stronger when consumed in the higher-energy soup which suggested that umami-enriched foods may help people with weight concerns to regulate their appetite.