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Healthy Diet Plans >>  Sweeteners >>  Natural Sugar Substitutes >>  Miraculin


The glycoprotein extract from the miracle fruit plant is miraculin. Miracle plant (Synsepalum dulcificum or Richadella dulcifica) is a shrub native to West Africa. The red berries on the plant are used to improve taste of acidic foods in West Africa. The fact is that miraculin is not sweet but the taste buds on human tongue when exposed to miraculin perceives ordinarily sour foods as sweet for up to two hours after its consumption. It is given the name miracle fruit as the fruit itself dose not have any distinct taste, but it has a taste modifying function which is regarded as a miracle.
Miraculin is the active substance of the miracle fruit isolated by a Japanese scientist, professor. Kenzo Kurihara and is named after miracle fruit. Miraculin was found to be a glycoprotein consisting of 191 amino acids with some carbohydrate chains and was first sequenced in 1989.

Miraculin is a protein with sour taste with only 14% sugar in miracle berry pulp. It might be very difficult to believe that the sweet beverage or fruit you are gulping is actually sour. But it is true; it is believed that miraculin has the properties to change the structure of the taste buds on the tongue after consumption. This might result in activation of sweet receptors on the tongue by miraculin that is sour in nature. This effect is retained until the taste buds come back to normal, but the detailed mechanism on how it acts and has a tongue-inducing behavior is still not known. Another concept is that there are different taste buds for different taste sensation for example the taste buds will recognize a salty taste and pass the signal to the brain to activate salty receptors in turn we feel this salty taste. But in case of miraculin, that has particularly no taste tends to recognize the sweet receptors cells on the taste bud which in turn activates the sweet taste receptors in the brain. Thus this is a miracle that tricks and fools the brain. It is suggested that there is a structural binding between the sweet-inducing protein and the sweet receptors. People with diabetes may also benefit from miraculin when used as a sweetener.

Japanese researchers have succeeded in preparing genetically modified plant that express miraculin for example lettuce. These efforts were with the intension to create a new sugar free sweetener from miraculin, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have showed a red signal to his proposal.
Submitted on January 16, 2014