Miracle fruit is one of the common names of Synsepalum dulcificum, a shrub that is native to western Africa, where it has been in use for centuries. Most notably, miracle fruit has the ability to make sour food taste sweet, thanks to a compound called miraculin. Miraculin is able to bind to the tongue’s taste buds, which blocks the receptors when the pH level of the mouth is neutral. However, when we eat sour fruit, the pH of the mouth drops, and miraculin is able to activate the sweet receptors while blocking the sour ones. Aside from the novel aspects of miracle fruit, also known as miracle berry, sweet berry, and asaa, this fruit has a number of unique nutrients that can positively affect health. These small berries are the size of cherry tomatoes and each contains a single seed, roughly the size of a coffee bean. The berries are typically consumed raw and are actually tasteless when eaten alone, but the fruit pulp can also be mixed into fruit smoothies or other sweet desserts. Some restaurants around the world use miracle fruit as a complement to their dishes, allowing diners to revel in the strangeness of eating sour food, but tasting a sweet treat instead!
Benefits of miracle fruit
- Weight Loss – By acting as a low-calorie, sugar-free additive in many meals, this fruit is an excellent aid in the weight loss efforts. It will not contribute to the overall calorie intake, nor is it packed with simple sugars and carbs that can lead to weight gain.
- Boosts Immune System – Although only trace amounts of vitamin C are present in this fruit, it can still give a small boost to the immune system. Vitamin C stimulates the production of white blood cells, which are the body’s main line of defense against pathogens and infections.
- Vision Health – There are also trace amounts of vitamin A found in this fruit, which has been directly linked to improved vision health, specifically a lower risk of macular degeneration and cataract formation as one ages.
- Manages Diabetes – Perhaps the most important health benefit of miracle fruit is enjoyed by diabetic patients, who can safely replace sugar in their diet with this berry. Apart from the flavor impact, some of the active ingredients in this fruit can naturally lower insulin sensitivity, which is good news for diabetic patients.
- Has Antioxidant Properties – The number of polyphenolic compounds found in this fruit will give the body an antioxidant boost, which can lower levels of free radicals and reduce oxidative stress in organ systems.
Adding miracle fruits to your diet
Miracle fruit is used in various ways around the world, but its use is primarily linked to its flavor-altering properties. It is commonly added to desserts and other foods that may have a tart flavor, or it is used as a replacement for sugar in foods. For example, if you have a sweet tooth but are trying to cut down on your sugar intake, using miracle fruit in conjunction with sour food can give you the sweet burst you’re looking for.
Word of caution
Despite the potential health benefits and novel abilities of this fruit, miracle fruit does have some side effects that should be considered, such as high acidity and gastrointestinal problems.
Acidity – Using this fruit can enable you to eat more sour foods, but only taste them as being sweet. While this is a unique property, it can allow you to eat an excess of sour foods, which could result in elevated acidity levels in the body.
Stomach Issues – Similarly, this fruit could also allow you to eat spicy food without feeling the heat, which could lead to heartburn or gastrointestinal distress. Use this berry in moderation, and be aware of what types of food you are eating to avoid unnecessary problems.