You've heard of superfoods, but how about miracle fruit? Called Synsepalum dulcificum, it's a native West African berry that looks like a cranberry, that magically makes sour foods taste sweet. Be it lemons, pickles, vinegar or even beer, the miracle fruit turns them into dessert.
Foodies have been holding "flavor tripping parties" with the miracle fruit, according to Time magazine. Although the miracle fruit doesn't taste like much on its own, it affects the flavor of other foods for about an hour. Guinness beer is reported to taste like chocolate, and lemon tastes like sweet juice.
Scientists have found that a key ingredient in the miracle fruit — a protein known as miraculin — binds strongly to the sweet taste receptors on the tongue. The protein then changes shape in a way that turns on its sweet receptors when it's introduced to something highly acidic (AKA sour). After the acidic food is swallowed, miraculin returns to the inactive shape, but it remains bound to the sweet receptor for up to an hour, ready to receive a new acid trigger, according to Discovery News.
It's easy to see how and why the dieting and food industry would be interested in this miracle fruit. Besides a food marvel, it could also be a lower-calorie way to enjoy sweet treats. But not so fast. Although purified miraculin extract is currently being sought after in Japan, in the U.S a 1974 ruling by the Food and Drug Administration banned the sale of a miracle fruit extract.
Jennipher Walters is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomedGirls.com and FitBottomedMamas.com. A certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and regularly writes about all things fitness and wellness for various online publications.