While you may have heard of monosodium glutamate (MSG), disodium guanylate is another food additive that has likely flown under your radar.
This is perfectly understandable, as it’s sometimes listed under the umbrella term “natural flavors.”
Disodium glutamate is frequently used alongside MSG in a range of foods, such as canned soups, potato chips, and dairy products.
Yet, you may wonder whether it’s safe.
This article explains what disodium guanylate is, what foods contain it, and whether it’s safe for consumption.
What it is and how it’s used
In biochemical terms, GMP is a nucleotide, which is a component of important molecules like DNA.
Disodium guanylate is typically paired with monosodium glutamate (MSG) or other glutamates but can be used on its own — though this is fairly rare because it’s more expensive to produce.
Glutamates are proteins that naturally occur in foods like tomatoes and cheese. They’re also found in your brain, where they act as neurotransmitters (2).
While table salt (sodium chloride) can bring out foods’ flavors, compounds like glutamates can enhance how your tongue perceives salt. Disodium glutamate amplifies salt’s flavor intensity, so you need a bit less salt to produce the same effect (3).
In other words, when MSG and disodium guanylate are combined, you’re likely to perceive food as much tastier (5).
In one study, the sodium content in fermented sausages was replaced with potassium chloride, resulting in unappealing qualities like poor texture and flavor. However, after MSG and flavor-enhancing nucleotides were added, study participants rated it delicious (5).
Importantly, the combination of MSG and disodium guanylate adds umami to a dish. Umami, which is considered the fifth basic taste, is associated with the savory or meaty flavors of beef, mushrooms, yeast, and rich broths (1, 6).
Given that disodium guanylate doesn’t create umami on its own, it needs to be paired with MSG.
As an MSG replacement
As a food additive, disodium guanylate can enhance the effect of MSG (7).
Though less common, disodium guanylate is also sometimes paired with disodium inosinate to replace MSG entirely (8).
However, I+G only creates umami when paired with MSG.