The miracle berry

For some people eating healthily is a chore, but imagine if everything you ate tasted sweet.  Sound tempting?  Read on...

The miracle berry

Let's face it, brussel sprouts and broccoli don't taste great, but if they did we'd probably eat more of them and be healthier as a result of it.

Most of us find ourselves snacking on sweet foods such as biscuits and cakes simply because they taste better, but what if everything you ate could taste sweet?

The miracle berry is a fruit which can do just that.

What is it?

Discovered in West Africa by explorer Chevalier des Marchais, the miracle berry (synsepalum dulcificum) is a fruit which, when eaten, causes other foods to taste sweet.

Marchais first came across the fruit on his travels in 1725 when he noticed that the local tribes people chewed on the berries before meals.

The miracle berry was also at the centre of a controversial business proposition in the 1970s when an attempt was made to use the fruit as an additive to non-sweet foods. 

The idea was to make certain foods sweeter without the need for sugar and therefore without the added calories.

However, the plan never came to fruition due to accusations that the project had been sabotaged by people in the sugar industry who didn't want to lose business to a potential sugar replacement.

How it works

An active glycoprotein molecule is the key to the miracle berry's powers.  It also contains carbohydrate chains called miraculin (hence the name).

The fruit is available as freeze-dried granules or in tablet form as these keep for longer.

When put in the mouth, the fruit's molecule sticks to the tongue's taste buds and it is thought that the miraculin then distorts the shape of the sweetness receptors.

However, the effects are not permanent and can last anywhere between 30 minutes and two hours.

What are its uses?

One of the miracle berry's most obvious uses is for weight loss.  If you can make things taste sweet then it eliminates the need to eat sweet foods, enabling you to cut down on your sugar intake.

In an ideal world, sweet tasting foods could be manufactured using the fruit, without the need for sugar or artificial sweeteners, which are notorious for leaving a bad taste in the mouth.

Other people who can also benefit are those with diabetes and there have also been reports that patients who are receiving chemotherapy are finding it useful as their treatment can often leave them with a metallic taste in their mouths which can be alleviated by the miracle berry.

Is it safe?

Despite being called the miracle berry, there is always the chance that you could be allergic to it.  Proceedings are also still taking place to finalise the approval of the Foods Standards Agency and have the fruit classified as safe for human consumption.

However, there have been no findings to suggest that use of the miracle berry is harmful, but using it remains at your own risk for the time being.