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Miracle fruit is now available in a variety of convenient formats, including tablets, juices, and powders.
Miracle fruit (Synsepalum dulcificum) has earned a reputation from flavor-tripping parties, but the curious ability of this fruit to block bitter tastes in favor of sweet ones may have a greater purpose.
At this year’s SupplySide West tradeshow, Miracle Fruit Farm (Miami) showcased its miracle fruit in a new pink powder form, and co-owner Erik Tietig said he was looking for manufacturers eager to market it towards one particular subset of consumers: chemotherapy patients.
“When chemotherapy patients go through chemo, they get a very strong metallic flavor from food, and it generally makes them so nauseous that they vomit after or even before each meal,” said Tietig. “Then they develop an aversion to eating altogether, and then they start having unwanted weight loss. So, one side effect of chemotherapy just gets compounded.”
Tietig says miracle fruit, in a convenient tablet or powder form, has the potential to alleviate this problem by ridding the taste buds of that metallic flavor and allowing chemotherapy patients to enjoy the natural flavors of foods. And it’s all because of a unique glycoprotein in miracle fruit, called miraculin.
“Miraculin binds to the sour taste buds,” says Tietig. “It literally creates a physical barrier on your tongue and it only allows the sweet sensations to be translated to the brain It’s not that you’re ingesting more sugar, but the brain is literally tricked. It’s tricked into believing that everything you’re eating that is acidic has a very sweet flavor to it, and, at the same time, it actually enhances the natural flavors of food.”
Tietig says two clinical trials support miracle fruit as an aid to chemotherapy patients, including a small-scale study conducted in Miami and a larger follow-up trial conducted at Mount Sinai Hospital.
While miracle fruit is native to Ghana, Miracle Fruit Farm harvests the fruits and trees in Florida. They were first introduced to the United States by a USDA plant inspector back in the 1940s.
Nutritional Outlook magazine