Consuming savoury foods can cause subtle changes in the brain that promote healthy eating behaviour and food choices, especially in women at risk of obesity, a study has found.
Umami is a Japanese word to express a delicious, savoury meal, and it represents one of the five basic tastes, together with sweet, salty, bitter, and sour.
A key component of umami taste is glutamate, a naturally occurring non-essential amino acid that can be found in nearly all foods, and especially in foods high in protein such as dairy products, fish, and meat.
Previous experimental studies have shown that intake of a broth or soup supplemented with monosodium glutamate (MSG), a sodium salt of glutamate, prior to a meal can decrease appetite and food intake.
In a study published in the journal Neuro-psychopharmacology, researchers evaluated changes in the brains of healthy young women after they consumed chicken broth with or without MSG added.
Researchers used three laboratory tools to detect changes: a computer test that measured inhibitory control (a key mental process that is necessary for self-regulation of eating), a buffet meal during which participants ate freely while wearing special glasses that tracked eye movements, and a functional brain scan that measured brain activity while participants made food choices.
Following intake of the umami-rich broth, participants performed the inhibitory control test better, had more focused gazes during the meal, and had more engagement of a brain area that is linked to successful self-regulation during food choice. PTI