Synsepalum dulcificum produces berries that, when eaten, causes sour foods (such as lemons and limes) subsequently consumed to taste sweet.
The berry itself has 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. While the exact cause for this change is unknown, one theory is that miraculin works by distorting the shape of sweetness receptors “so that they become responsive to acids, instead of sugar and other sweet things”. This effect lasts 15–60 minutes.
Researchers have already attempted various studies about the benefits that we can get out of this miraculous berry. Some possible benefits accordingly are as follow:
1. Attempts have been made to create a commercial sweetener from the fruit, with an idea of developing this for diabetics.
2. For cancer patients, the fruit allegedly counteracts a metallic taste in the mouth that may be one of the many side effects of chemotherapy. Though, these claims have not been researched scientifically.
3. These berries could be aid for parents who find it difficult to feed their children with fruits rich in vitamin C.
Personally, I see these researches as noble projects to pursue because we are not only opening our mind to another human beneficial endeavor but could also save our economy’s struggle on the inflating sugar industry. But, we should always remember that any attempt should be for the common good and not just a fruit of our personal agenda that will result to mass conflicts and ownership issues. Finally we should always remember that the abundance of this miracle fruit is not forever. Thus, attempts of putting it commercially should not be the only thing that we must aim. As human, we are responsible in the protection of our natural resources as well.