Imagine a miracle substance that had the ability to turn sour foods sweet? Synsepalum dulcificum, better known as the Miracle Fruit, enhances the flavor of certain foods by coating the taste buds and causing sour foods such as limes to taste as sweet as sugar. It provides a bit of sweetness for those who are must eliminate sugar from their diets. It is also useful for cancer patients and those on heavy medication who struggle with an altered perception of taste. As well as its almost miraculous effects on the taste buds, the miracle fruit is packed with antioxidants, flavonoids and phytonutrients.
Origins of the Miracle Fruit
The miracle fruit is native to West Africa. It was first documented in the 18th century by Chevalier des Marchais, a European explorer searching for different fruits on the African continent. He noticed that the native people would often pick the fruit and consume it before meals. The fruit’s incredible potential to revolutionize the food industry was first theorized in the 1960s by a man named Robert Harvey who was a biomedical postgraduate student travelling through Africa. Harvey set up the Miralin Company in 1974 to grow the berry and extract its active ingredient for use as a natural, healthy sweetener. Just before the company was able to release its new product, the FDA suddenly declared the extract to be a food additive that would need to be tested before it could be made available to the public. As the Miralin Company could not afford to fund clinical trials for its product, the company eventually folded. The FDA’s sudden change of opinion is thought by many including Harvey to be the result of aggressive lobbying by the sugar industry who were afraid of losing a large percentage of their profits.
How It Works
The miracle fruit contains a glycoprotein molecule known as miraculin that binds itself to the tongue’s sweet taste receptors. When any type of sour food is consumed, the taste receptors are then activated. The fruit has almost no taste when consumed by itself, and the effects last from anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours. The miraculin molecule can be deactivated by hot liquids such as coffee and will gradually be washed away by the saliva. The fruit’s strange ability has led to ‘flavor-tripping’ parties around the US where groups of food-lovers gather to experience the altered flavor of foods such as beer, pickles, vinegar, grapefruit and goat cheese.
How Cancer and Diabetes Patients Can Benefit from the Miracle Fruit
Many patients undergoing chemotherapy complain of a side effect that results in all the food they consume having an unpleasant, metallic taste. The miracle fruit can help patients regain their appetite and many claim that it can eliminate the metallic aftertaste that is experienced with most foods. The vitamins and nutrients contained within the fruit are also ideal for cancer patients who are required to follow a healthy diet to build up their immune system.
A study performed at the Taipei Medical University in Taiwan found that a patient’s insulin sensitivity could be improved by the miracle fruit. The researchers stated that “miracle fruit may be used as an adjuvant for treating diabetic patients with insulin resistance.” Those who suffer from diabetes are often required to eliminate all forms of processed sugar from their diet. This can be extremely restricting, and many people miss the taste of sugar and sweet foods. The miracle fruit provides an ideal way for diabetics to enjoy sweet tasting foods without any negative effects or serious health complications.
Where to Buy It
Miracle fruit supplements can easily be purchased online or from certain health food stores. They often come in a small packet that looks like bubblegum. Make sure you look for 100% organic supplements that do not contain colorings or preservatives. It is possible to purchase the berries fresh, but they can be difficult to find due to them having a relatively short shelf-life.
Possible Side Effects and Interactions
The miracle fruit is generally considered safe for use and does not have any known side effects. However, pregnant and nursing mothers should avoid it as there have been no studies on its effects on unborn fetuses or breast milk. It is advisable to always consult a natural health practitioner before beginning any type of unfamiliar herbal treatment.