Tomato to Seafood, 7 Foods Naturally High In Umami Flavor

Umami, often referred to as the "fifth taste," is a savory flavor that plays a vital role in enhancing culinary experiences. In Ayurveda, this flavour is referred to as "Shadrasa," and it is regarded as the pinnacle of all six flavours (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and umami). Ayurveda recognizes the importance of umami in promoting overall well-being. The incorporation of umami-rich foods in Ayurvedic cuisine not only enhances the culinary experience but also supports the body's equilibrium. Here are the top 10 foods naturally rich in the umami flavor and their significance in Ayurveda, fostering a wholesome connection between taste and health. 

Umami is the scientific name for the savoury flavours of glutamate, inosinate, and guanylate. The amino acid glutamate, often known as glutamic acid, occurs naturally in both plant and animal proteins. It is more common to find inosinate in meats than guanylate, which is present naturally in plants. 

Soy-Based Foods 

Soybeans are used to create soy meals, which are common in Asian diets. Although whole soybeans are edible, they are more typically used to make fermented or processed foods like tofu, tempeh, miso, and soy sauce. Proteins are broken down into free amino acids, one of which is glutamic acid, during processing and fermentation, which increases the total glutamate level of the soybeans. Incorporating these umami-rich options into your dishes adds depth and complexity, elevating the overall culinary experience. 

Aged Cheeses 

Umami is especially prevalent in aged cheeses like Parmesan, Gouda, and Roquefort. Proteins in the cheese degrade into amino acids like glutamic acid as it ages, which contributes to its savoury flavour. Proteolysis, which occurs during cheese ageing, breaks down proteins into their constituent amino acids. Free glutamic acid levels will increase as a result of this. Aged cheeses are delicious because their umami flavour develops and becomes more intense with time. 


Kimchi, a staple of Korean cuisine, is a pickled vegetable and spice mixture. During fermentation, the veggies are broken down by the Lactobacillus bacteria, which secrete digestive enzymes such proteases, lipases, and amylases. Proteins in kimchi undergo proteolysis, whereby their constituent amino acids are released from their respective protein molecules. Due to this, more of the umami chemical glutamic acid is present in the kimchi. For this reason, kimchi packs an enormous 240 mg of glutamate every 3.5 ounces (100 grams). Besides being rich in umami compounds, kimchi is also extremely nutritious and has been linked to health advantages including enhanced digestion and reduced cholesterol levels. 

Green Tea 

Green tea is a favourite drink among people who care about their health. Many potential health benefits have been attributed to its consumption, including a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, lower levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol, and a healthy body weight. The high glutamate content of green tea contributes to its distinctive sweet, bitter, and umami flavour. Each 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of dried green tea has 220-670 milligrams (mg) of glutamate. Theanine, an amino acid structurally related to glutamate, is abundant in this beverage. Theanine has been linked to a rise in umami compounds, according to the study. Green tea, on the other hand, gets its bitter taste from compounds called catechins and tannins. 


The umami taste is abundant in seafood, especially in some varieties like anchovies, mussels, and seaweed. Glutamate and inosinate (sometimes called disodium inosinate) can be found in seafood in their natural forms. Aside from glutamate, inosinate is another common umami component found in processed foods. Having high concentrations of glutamic acid and inosinate gives them a salty, saline flavour. These marine gems boost the umami in food, making it even more enjoyable for seafood lovers to indulge in their favourite cuisine. 


Tomatoes' glutamate level increases when they ripen, contributing to their robust umami flavour. When combined with other chemicals, this glutamate amplifies their flavour. Tomatoes are widely used in a wide variety of cuisines because their umami flavour is enhanced when cooked or processed, such as in tomato sauce or paste. 


Mushrooms have a high concentration of the free amino acids glutamate and guanylate, which give them their distinctive umami flavour. The synergistic effect of these substances enhances the savoury flavour and makes for a very memorable meal. Mushrooms are frequently used in cooking because their umami profile is enhanced and they can be used to give depth and richness to a variety of meals.