Synsepalum dulcificum is a plant known for its berry that, when eaten, causes sour foods (such as lemon and lime) subsequently consumed to taste sweet. This effect is due to miraculin. Common names for this species and its berry include miracle fruit, miracle berry, miraculous berry, sweet berry, and in West Africa, where the species originates, agbayun, taami , asaa, and ledidi
Species: S. dulcificum
Binomial name: Synsepalum dulcificum (Schumach. & Thonn.) William Freeman DanielferI
The berry itself has a low sugar content and a mildly sweet tang. It contains a glycoprotein molecule, with some trailing carbohydrate chains, called miraculin. When the fleshy part of the fruit is eaten, this molecule binds to the tongue’s taste buds, causing sour foods to taste sweet. At neutral pH, miraculin binds and blocks the receptors, but at low pH (resulting from ingestion of sour foods) miraculin binds protein and becomes able to activate the sweet receptor, resulting in the reception of sweet taste. This effect lasts until the protein is washed away by saliva (up to about 30 minutes).
The names miracle fruit and miracle berry are shared by Gymnema sylvestre and Thaumatococcus daniellii, which are two other species used to alter the perceived sweetness of foods.
Synsepalum dulcificum or the “miracle fruit” is well known for its taste-modifying ability. The aim of this review was to assess the published medically beneficial as well as potential characteristic of this fruit. A search in three databases, including PubMed, ScienceDirect, and Google Scholar, was made with appropriate keywords.
The resulting articles were screened in different stages based on the title, abstract, and content. A total of nine articles were included in this review. This review summarized the findings of previously published studies on the effects of miracle fruit.
The main studied characteristic of the fruit was its effect on the taste receptors, resulting in the sweet sensation when substances with acidic content were ingested. This effect was shown to be related to a glycoprotein called “miraculin”.
Other beneficial characteristic of this fruit were its antioxidant and anticancer abilities that are due to the various amides existing in the miracle fruit.
Apart from the above, the other observed effect of this fruit was its antidiabetic effect that was tasted in rats. Further studies should be conducted to established the findings.
The miracle fruit can be a healthy additive due its unique characteristic, including sour taste sensation modification as well as its antioxidant and antidiabetic effects.
Keywords: anti-cancer activity; antioxidant activity; antiproliferation; i bitro; in vivo.
In addition to its benefits as a taste modifier, the berry can act as a low-calorie food enhancer reducing the need for ingredients that add extra calories to your food. One berry contains less than 1 calorie with nearly zero fat, sodium, cholesterol, carbs and protein. It contains ample amounts of vitamin A, C, and E, minerals, essential amino acids, anthocyanins, phytosterol, and flavonoids. Like other fruit berries, the Miracles Fruit is packed with healthy bioactive nutritional compounds that have proven anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and regenerative activity.
Uses and Regulation
In tropical West Africa, where this species originates, the fruit pulp is used to sweeten palm wine. Historically, it was also used to improve the flavor of soured cornbread, but has been used as a sweetener and flavoring agent for diverse beverages and foods, such as beer, cocktails, vinegar, and pickles.
The berry is on thr EU list of novel foods, and requires a safety assessment before it can be sold as food or used as food additive. Since 2011, the United State FDA has imposed a ban on importing Synsepalum dulcificum (specifying miraculin) from its origin in Taiwan, declaring it as an “illegal undeclared sweetener”.
Although miracle fruit is often used to experiment with flavor changes, there’s also widespread interest in the berry’s potential health benefits. For instance, some doctor are exporing miracle fruit’s ability to increase appetite in certain populations of patients (such as those undergoing chemotherapy).
Widely available in tablet form, miracle fruit it also sometimes touted as a weight loss aid.
Health Benefits of Miracle Fruit
Preliminary research suggest that miracle fruit may be beneficial in the treatment of diabetes. In a study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2006, scientists fed miracle fruit to a group of rats placed on a diet high in fructose (a type of sugar known to increase blood sugar levels). Results showed that miracle fruit helped protect against resistance, a health problem closely linked to the development of diabetes.
In a pilot study published in the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing in 2012, researchers found that miracle fruit may be of some benefit to patients receiving chemotherapy. The study included eight patients with cancer, all of whom were experiencing chemotherapy-related taste changes. A common side effect of chemotherapy, negative taste changes can result in poor nutrition and result quality of life.
For the study, half of the patients were given a two-week supply of miracle fruit, while the other half were given a two-week supply of a placebo. After two weeks, the treatment and placebo groups were switched. Looking at food diaries and taste-change ratings submitted by each patient, the study’s authors determined that miracle fruit had a positive effect on taste changes.
Miracle fruit may benefit people who are trying to reduce their calorie intake, according to a small study published in the journal Appetite in 2011. In an experiment involving 13 people, researchers gave each participants a lemon-juice-based popsicle that was either low in sugar or sweetened with sucrose (also known as “table sugar”). Some of the study members were also given miracle fruit prior to eating their popsicles. All popsicles were consumed after the subjects had eaten a standard breakfast and lunch.
Analyzing the participants food intake for the remainder of the day, the researchers found that study members are given both miracle fruit and the low-sugar popsicles consumed fewer calories (compared to those who ate either the sucrose-sweetened popsicle or the low-sugar popsicle without miracle fruit). Given this finding, the study’s authors concluded that miracle fruit can enhance the sweetness of low-sugar desserts while limiting calorie intake.
References: wikipedia.org / verywellhealth.com / ncbi.nlm.nih.gov