Researchers Suggest Savory Foods Promote Healthy Eating Behaviors

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Researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) suggest that consuming an umami broth can promote healthy eating behaviors and food choices.

Umami in Japanese means a delicious and savory meal. It represents one of the five basic tastes, together with sweet, salty, bitter, and sour. Glutamate is a key component of this savory taste and is a naturally occurring non-essential amino acid found in nearly all foods. Dairy products, fish and meat are high in glutamate. Prior research revealed that intake of a broth or soup containing monosodium glutamate (MSG) before a meal can decrease appetite and food intake. High intake of MSG made women susceptible to overeat and gain weight. This research published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology on March 30, 2018 evaluated changes in the brains of healthy young women after they consumed chicken broth with or without MSG added.

The research led by Miguel Alonso-Alonso, MD, PhD, an Assistant Professor at the Center for the Study of Nutrition Medicine in BIDMC’s Department of Surgery used three laboratory tools to detect these changes. A computer test measured inhibitory control that is necessary for self-regulation of eating, a buffet meal where participants consumed their choice of food while wearing special glasses to track eye movements, and a functional brain scan that measured brain activity as participants choose their food. It was observed that participants performed better inhibitory control test after consuming umami-rich broth. This resulted in better focused gazes during the meal and more involvement of brain area that is linked to successful self-regulation during food choices. Moreover, the participants suffering from obesity were seemed to consume less saturated fat food during the meal. The research promises novel ways to provide healthy eating habits and reduce food intake in people. Eating an umami-rich broth before a meal could benefit obese people. The team urged further research is required to address whether these observed changes can accumulate and affect food intake over time. The research was published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology on July 06, 2018.

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