Glutamate is a multifunctional amino acid. It plays a key role in central neurotransmission, in intermediate metabolism of carbohydrate as well as in taste, representing the major ligand having the umami taste. Glutamate is one of the main constituents of dietary proteins and is also consumed in many prepared foods as a flavour enhancer in the form of glutamate salts. Umami perception is based on multiple receptor systems distributed in the oral cavity and in the gastrointestinal tract which activates a number of regions of the brain involved in different functions, from food identification to the formation of an affective value related to a particular food, which may influence appetitive behaviour. Future research on umami taste and umami compounds will be fundamental in gaining a better understanding of their physiological significance and to promote their status in a healthy and pleasant diet.
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