Power of Amino Acids! We Use Them Every Day!

Food and Amino Acids

Amino acids are the secret to good taste.

Food and Amino Acids


  • 1

    Amino acids are the key to good taste!

  • 2

    Amino acids work together to give foods taste!

  • 3

    Fermented foods taste good because the proteins are digested and become amino acids.

Amino Acids Are the Key to Good Taste!

Amino Acids Have Different Tastes

Amino acids have different tastes. Some are sweet, bitter, sour or have an umami taste. While an amino acid may be described as tasting sweet or bitter, each one has a unique taste.
For example, valine is considered a bitter amino acid, but it also has a slightly sweet taste. Meanwhile, the sweetness of glycine and alanine is less intense than sugar.

Amino Acids Work together for Different Tastes!

Each amino acid has a unique taste. How a food tastes depends largely on what different amino acids it has.
When we study the amino acid content of foods, we can see that the types and amount of amino acids has a strong effect on the taste.

Amino Acids Work together to Produce the Taste of Foods!Amino Acids Work together to Produce the Taste of Foods!Amino Acids Work together to Produce the Taste of Foods!Amino Acids Work together to Produce the Taste of Foods!Uneyama et al., Amino Acids, 43, 2349-2358 (2012)

Amino Acids Work together for Different Tastes!

Why Do Ripe Tomatoes Taste Delicious?

Tomatoes Get Sweeter and Their Amino Acid Content Increases as They Ripen

The amino acids glutamate and asparagine are essential to the taste of tomatoes. The ratio of the amino acids is also important. When glutamate and asparagine are present in a 4:1 ratio, tomatoes have the most tomato taste.
Tomatoes ripen and turn red when they receive plenty of sunlight. Riper tomatoes are sweeter and have a higher amino acid content so they taste more delicious.

*Without glutamate tomatoes would taste more like weak apple juice or a sour apricot.

Glutamate and Asparagine in Tomato

Crab and Sea Urchin Taste also Produced by Amino Acids

Crab and Sea Urchin TasteEssential Components of Crab TasteEssential Components of Sea Urchin Taste

Amino Acid Arginine Gives Seafood Its Unique Taste

The taste of crab comes from just a few amino acids working together with nucleic acids and minerals. Arginine is a bitter amino acid that brings out the unique taste of seafood.

Amino Acid Methionine Gives Sea Urchin Its Unique Taste

There are five main amino acids that give sea urchin its taste.
The taste of sea urchin can be reproduced in the lab by combining these five amino acids in the same ratio as found in actual sea urchin. Methionine is a very bitter amino acid, but gives sea urchin its unique taste. When methionine is subtracted, the taste is much like shrimp or crab.

Fermented Foods Are Rich in Amino Acids

Fermented Foods

Fermented Foods—Developed to Make Foods More Delicious

Since ancient times mankind has found ways to grow, harvest and preserve foods in large quantities. Now, instead of simply preserving food, we have developed food cultures that involve the preparation and processing of foods to make them taste more delicious.

Digesting Proteins into Amino Acids to Produce Different Tastes

Fermented foods are one of the ways that we have learned to make food more delicious. Proteins by themselves do not have much taste. However, if we ferment foods such as soy, fish and milk, the proteins are digested and become amino acids, which produce various tastes. Fermented foods are rich in taste and easily preserved and they are packed with amino acids.
Amino acids are used as flavor enhancers and seasonings to make foods everywhere taste delicious and give them a unique taste.


Meats and Sashimi Taste Better when They are Rich in Amino Acids and Umami

Breakdown of Proteins Increases the Amino Acid Content for More Delicious Taste
When lions catch their prey in the wild, they first eat the pancreas, small intestines, and liver. These organs are richer in amino acids than muscle and so they taste better.
Two or three days later after the lion has left its prey, hyenas and other animals move in to eat the muscle. By that time, the muscle proteins have started to break down, becoming amino acids and nucleic acids to increase and making the meat taste much better.
Similarly, sashimi (raw fish) also tastes better after a certain amount of time has passed rather than immediately after the fish is caught. The amino acids and nucleotides in the flesh become abundant about after 12 to 24 hours after the fish are caught.