Thursday, November 03, 2016

Miracle fruit as a sweetener

Miracle fruit (Synsepalum dulcificum), grows in the coastal region of West Africa, and first came to European attention in the 1850s when an English surgeon noted that the commander of a British fort in Dahomey enjoyed ‘constant opportunities of testing the wonderful effects of this fruit’.

Miracle fruit has been studied for its sweetness value. The extract is lemon tasted sweet but did not sweeten coffee or other unsweetened food. The sweetening lemons required about ½ hours before taking effect and that effect lasted for only about 3 hours.

It was proposed that the effect of this berry’s extract is not to sweeten but to numb the ability of the taste buds to detect acidity, allowing the sugar in the lemon to come through.

Research by Kurihara and Beidler (1969), have suggested that the glycoprotein that is the active component in miracle fruit might have two binding sites. One of these binds to the receptor membrane, and the other is actually a sugar molecule that can bind to the sweet receptor site in the usual fashion.

Normally, the sugar molecule is held in a position that prevents its binding. Acid is assumed to change the conformation of the sweet receptor site so that it can come into contact with the sugar molecules.

Miracle fruit contains the protein miraculin, which is related to the protein thaumatin found in another ‘sweetener’ plant Thaumatocossus.
Miracle fruit as a sweetener
 
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