Synsepalum dulcificum, is being referred to as a “miracle fruit” for its ability to alter the taste buds, turning everything sour to sweet for about 15 to 30 minutes. This small berry has inspired “taste tripping” parties, where foodies and curious eaters pay $10 to $35 to try the berries, which are native to West Africa. About five months ago, a Miami, Florida, hospital began studying whether the fruit’s sweetening effects can restore the appetite of cancer patients whose chemotherapy treatments have left them with dulled taste buds that make food taste metallic and bland. Others are looking into how the berries could help people with diabetes and obesity.
The fruit contains a natural protein, called miraculin, which has sugar molecules that bind to the tongue. When acid enters the mouth, the sugar molecules press into the sweet receptors. In 1974 FDA declared that miraculin was a food additive.