Flavor enhancers: their effect on the body and healthy alternatives – nutrition

– Flavor enhancers not only provide a spicy aroma, but also more intensity in food. Nevertheless, they are controversial. Why is that?

Flavor enhancers are often used as additives in the food industry. The best known flavor enhancers have a so-called umami taste. “Umami” colloquially means “tasty”. This has a spicy salty note and is considered the fifth taste after salty, sour, sweet and bitter. Flavor enhancers are supposed to provide a culinary experience, but at the same time they are very controversial. But are flavor enhancers really that dangerous?

What are flavor enhancers?

Flavor enhancers are food additives that enhance the taste of the product. These usually have no taste of their own and consist mainly of organic substances. The effect of flavor enhancers is based on the sensitization of the oral taste buds.

Substances with an E number of 600 or higher are called flavor enhancers. In the food industry, Flavor enhancer E621 used. This is popularly known as “glutamate”. Glutamate flavor enhancer is used in the form of monosodium glutamate, potassium glutamate, glutamic acid or magnesium glutamate. The most common salt is monosodium glutamate.

Glutamate triggers an umami flavor effect on the tongue. But glutamate also comes into play many protein-rich foods like cheese or ham before. Glutamate is also found in Soya sauce, ripe tomatoes, peanuts, broccoli, grape juice and peas. In supermarkets, there are more and more products with the mention “Without flavor enhancer”. A closer look at the ingredient list clearly shows that yeast extract is used as a substitute for flavor enhancement.

Glutamate is one of the additives that must be labeled and must therefore appear in the list of ingredients. However, foods do not have to be labeled if other foods containing natural glutamic acid, such as tomatoes or yeast extract, are used in the manufacture of a product.

What foods contain flavor enhancers?

Flavor enhancers appear almost exclusively in processed foods in particular. This includes:

– ready meals
– the sauces
– Snacks
-Bouillon cube
– soups
– Confectionery
– Desserts

Intolerance to flavor enhancers: what do you need to know?

Flavor enhancers often get a bad rap. Glutamate is often associated with “Chinese restaurant syndrome”. People with the syndrome complain nausea, headache or palpitations after eating Asian food. This is then partly attributed to the high amount of glutamate. However, such a connection cannot be fully scientifically proven.

There is no allergy to glutamate, but there is some intolerance in the study. Intolerances can occur in individuals after eating dishes containing glutamate. These become noticeable as a tingling in the throat and a feeling of warmth or tightness. The intolerance is only temporary, so the symptoms usually disappear within half a day. Anyone sensitive to flavor enhancers should avoid foods containing glutamate as a precaution.

Are flavor enhancers harmful?

There is an authorization requirement for flavor enhancers. Therefore, a food is first checked for safety before it is approved for sale. This ensures that the flavor enhancer does not affect health. The German Nutrition Society states that with a balanced and healthy diet, no negative health effects from flavor enhancers can be expected. Nevertheless, it is recommended to pay attention to the labeling and foods containing glutamate to be consumed only in moderation. It is advisable to cook fresh and balanced foods and only rarely use ready meals. In particular, packet soups, potato chips and ready meals are not part of a healthy and sustainable diet.

The European Food Safety Authority recalls that headaches or high blood pressure may be promoted by increased glutamate intake. However, 30 milligrams of glutamate per kilogram of body weight per day is considered safe.

brain metabolism

However, glutamate not only plays a crucial role in food, but also as a messenger in the brain. This is why the human body itself produces glutamate. As a neurotransmitter, it is involved in brain function, pain transmission, growth, weight regulation and appetite control. When glutamate levels rise in the brain, brain cells die. However, this danger does not exist with a diet containing glutamate, since flavor enhancers cannot pass the so-called blood-brain barrier. However, it can become more permeable in diseases such as internal bleeding or meningitis.


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natural flavor enhancers

People should bet on fresh and balanced foods rather than consuming dishes cooked with a lot of glutamate. At the same time, it is worth getting to know new tastes and cooking creative dishes again and again. Even without flavor enhancers, dishes can be transformed into a real taste experience with natural spices and tasty ingredients.

For example, dishes can lemon zest Where Ginger be spicy. fresh garlic and onions must not be missed by any amateur cook and also enhances the taste of the dish. But also spices like currycoriander, cardamom or nutmeg can transform any dish into an absolute taste moment – and all without glutamate.

At the same time you need a pasta dish with maturing Tomato and parmesan no flavor enhancers. Rice dishes can, for example, with peas or broccoli be combined. Also nuts, olives or capers give each dish a particularly tasty touch.

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