Miraculin is a sugar substitute extracted from the fruit of
Synsepalum dulcificum. The fruit is famously known as miracle berry that, when
eaten, causes sour foods subsequently consumed to taste sweet.
"You can eat a berry and then bite into a lemon. It becomes not
only sweeter, but it will be the best lemon you've tasted in your life,"
explains Robert Harvey, a biomedical expert and a promoter of the sugar
substitute in the United States, in an exclusive interview with BBC News.
Many researches and experiments have gone deep into the merits and
demerits of miraculin sugar substitute
over the past decade, but a few
studies have examined the effect of miraculin on mixed acid solutions.
Now a new study appeared in the Scientific Research Publishing
examines the intensity of the sweetness of mixed acid solutions after the sugar
substitute was applied in response to the enhancement of the sourness.
The researchers suggest that the sweetness drawn out by miraculin is
not enhanced by the binary and trinary acid solutions used in this study.
Method of the Study
The research was led by C. Endo, A. Hirata, A. Takami, I. Ashida and
Y. Miyaoka from the Niigata University of Health and Welfare, Niigata, Japan.
The experiments were authorized by the ethics committee of the Niigata
University of Health and Welfare.
As many as twenty adults with no subjective issues with gustatory
and olfactory functions participated in the experiments. A tablet of miraculin,
which was gently ground in a mortar and pestle, was used. The quality checked
ground miraculin powder was provided to each participant with a plastic spoon.
Then, effects of ground miraculin powder on the perceived intensity of taste
and odor were analyzed using six organic acid solutions in the twenty
participants. Citric acid was a component of the solutions, and the average pH
(potential of Hydrogen or concentration Hydrogen) were between 2.24 and 2.48.
The results showed that the ground miraculin powder evoked
sufficient sweetness after oral application. However, no significant
differences were found in the intensities of sweetness evoked by the miraculin
application among the six acid solutions.
"Major differences, after the sugar substitute was applied, were
identified in three of the sensory items examined (the sourness, the
astringency, and the overall odor intensity) among the six solutions. Still,
the average scores for these sensory items had no mutual relationship with the
average solution pH values," scientists concluded.
About the Miracle Fruit
Miracle berries have long been known
in West Africa. The berry was first documented by explorer Chevalier des
Marchais in 1725. However, serious attempts to grow it only started after the
American botanist David Fairchild.
In 1960s, a scientist, Dr Linda
Bartoshuk, studied miraculin, the protein in the berry. One of her lectures was
heard by Robert Harvey, who realized that miracle berries were a huge
Harvey tried a range of sugar-free
products coated with the extract, but he could not manage to get the US Food
and Drug Administration (FDA). Media reported that the food and drug regulatory
organization was acting in favor of the sugar industry in the case of Harvey.
Health Benefits of the Miracle Fruit
Obesity has become a worldwide
problem. The global prevalence of obesity and the economic burden on healthcare
systems has doubled since 1980.
The values of healthy eating have
been extolled for decades. The search is always on for replacements for those
fatty and sugary foods
'miracle fruit' can be used to produce sweet tasting foods without sugar or
So, basically, the fruit offers a
sugar-free life for all people and it is important to lead a health life and
avoid future health complication.
Experts say that, miracle berries
have been given to patients undergoing cancer treatment. One of the side effects of chemotherapy
is sour, metallic tastes in the mouth. The miracle berries can convert these tastes
to sweetness, and it will help patients to eat more nutritious foods without
patients who really crave sweetness can also use it. Kids with diabetes for
whom the lack of sweetness really hurts, will be much happier with the effect
of miracle fruit.