Effects of added glutamate on liking for novel food flavors.Appetite. 2004 Apr; 42(2):143-50.A
Adding glutamate to foods increases their umami quality, their acceptability and their consumption. The functional significance of this palatability is unclear. Other highly palatable substances, e.g. sugar and fats, also increase liking for novel flavors with which they are repeatedly paired, especially when ingested. This is thought to reflect the rewarding effects of sugar and fat energy, post-ingestion. To determine if a liking for novel flavors can also be conditioned using glutamate, 44 subjects rated 10 ml samples of three novel soups for liking and familiarity, both before and after seven daily exposures to each of two soup flavors-one with added monosodium l-glutamate (MSG) (0.5% w/w; MSG+) and one without (MSG-). During exposure, subjects received either a 250 ml bowl of soup (Consume group) or a 10 ml sample (Taste group). There were no significant differences as a function of samples or groups, despite some trends for changes in liking to be higher in the consumed MSG+ condition. In a second experiment, 69 subjects were divided into three groups (Consume MSG+; Consume MSG-; Taste MSG+) in which they received nine exposures to one novel soup flavor. The Consume MSG+ group showed a significantly greater increase in liking than either the Consume MSG- or the Taste MSG+ groups, which did not differ. Changes in familiarity ratings reflected amount consumed, not MSG content. Pairing glutamate with a novel flavor can condition liking for that flavor. While post-ingestive effects of glutamate may be rewarding, flavor conditioning cannot be ruled out.