Free Glutamate can be found in food items that are rich in protein such as cheese, eggs, and meat products. Some veggies and fruits may also contain glutamate. In fact, glutamate is known to provide certain food items its distinctive flavor known as” umami” or what is generally described as savory. Foods that are umami and savory are perceived as being delicious and enticing. Glutamate can also be either free or bound depending on whether it is attached to various proteins or if it is not bound to any protein (free). Food items that have a stronger umami flavor will usually be due to the more glutamate the food item contains.
One factor that can affect a food item is its ripeness. Fruits and veggies that more ripe will have a higher level of glutamate while those that are less ripe will have less of that umami taste. The same is true for other physical characteristics of food items such as color. For example, a tomato that is glossy and with a color that is deep red will usually mean higher levels of glutamate compared to a tomato that has a pale color.
Food aging through the process of curing also has higher levels of glutamate than those that have not been cured. This is because the curing or the fermentation process of the food product or item will increase the release of critical amino acids resulting in more free glutamate. An example would be that ham that is cured will have around 337 milligrams of free glutamate while meat that is fresh will only have around 10 milligrams of glutamate. Another way by which glutamate is increased for food items that are consumed is through the addition of MSG or monosodium glutamate. MSG is a form of pure and isolated glutamate normally utilized as a type of food seasoning.
Certain foods are believed to contain high levels of glutamate and these include nuts, vegetables, certain fruits, cheeses that are aged, sauces that are fermented, different seafood, fish, and meat. Enumerated below are some of the food items that are believed to contain significant amounts of glutamate:
Foods High In Free Glutamate per milligrams per 100 grams (mg/100 gms)
- Miso at 200 to 700 milligrams
- Oyster Sauce at 900 milligrams
- Soy Sauce at 1264 milligrams
- Fish Sauce at 1383 milligrams
- Vegemite at 1430 milligrams
- Marmite at 1960 milligrams
Nuts, Vegetables, and Fruits
- Napa Cheese Cabbage at 100 milligrams of glutamate
- Potatoes at 102 milligrams of glutamate
- Corn at 106 milligrams of glutamate
- Green peas at 106 milligrams of glutamate
- Brocolli at 176 milligrams of glutamate
- Mushrooms at 180 milligrams of glutamate
- Kimchi at 240 milligrams of glutamate
- Tomatoes at 246 milligrams of glutamate
- Grape juice at 258 milligrams of glutamate
- Dried tomatoes at 650 to 114 milligrams of glutamate
- Walnuts at 658 milligrams of glutamate
- Shiitake Mushrooms that are dried at 1060 milligrams of glutamate
Different Types of Cheese
- Cheddar Cheese at 182 milligrams of glutamate
- Emmental cheese at 310 milligrams of glutamate
- Roquefort Cheese at 1280 milligrams of glutamate
- Parmesan Cheese at 1680 milligrams of glutamate
Seafood, fish, and meats
- Chicken at 22 milligrams of glutamate
- Shrimp at 40 milligrams of glutamate
- Egg yolks at 46 Milligrams of glutamate
- oysters at 137 milligrams of glutamate
- Scallops at 159 milligrams of glutamate
- Clams at 210 milligrams of glutamate
- Mackerel at 215 milligrams of glutamate
- Cured ham at 337 milligrams of glutamate
- Anchovies at 650 milligrams of glutamate
What are the other health benefits or possible risks of Glutamate?
Glutamate has been identified as an excitotoxin which means that it stimulates the cells of the nerves. As such, people believe and assume that an excess amount of glutamate can result in overstimulation for certain nerve cells. While there is real harm in excess glutamate intake, glutamate found in food items is usually has none or very minimal adverse effects on the brain. In fact, there is little evidence to support that normal amounts of glutamate consumed can have an adverse effect on the brain as an excitotoxin.
Listed below, however, are some of the other salient points in connection with Glutamate:
- Glutamate may result in allergic reactions or sensitivities in some individuals- Glutamate may cause some individuals to experience some form of an allergic reaction to the said amino acids. This kind of condition is referred to as the MSG symptom complex and or the Chinese Restaurant Syndrome. The symptoms for the said syndrome include flushing, weakness, tingling, numbness, tightness of the muscles, and headaches.
- Glutamate may impact the flavor and the intake of calories for individuals- As stated earlier in the article, glutamate can make various food items taste more delicious or flavorful due to its umami flavor. However, evidence suggests that glutamate can actually help individuals feel more satiated which may result in reduced intake of calories. One study showed that people who took in soups that had MSG in them resulted in fewer consumption of calories within the day.
- Glutamate may contribute to possible disorders in metabolism and obesity- Studies show that glutamate may result in obesity due to certain metabolic disorders. However, further studies are needed to establish the said link between obesity and Glutamate.