Miracle fruit contains a protein called miraculin that tastes sweet enough to replicate the effect of sugar. Why isn't it widely used as a healthy sweetener?

In 1725, the French explorer Reynaud Des Marchais was astounded to find that the locals regularly consumed the berry to improve the taste of bland or sour breads, but until the small explosion of research into the biological mechanisms at work at the protein level over the past decade, we didn’t really understand why.

The surface of your tongue is covered by a multitude of different receptors to detect tastes from sweet to umami. Just like sugar and artificial sweeteners like aspartame, the miraculin in the berry binds to your sweet taste receptors, but far more strongly.

The acid present in sour foods sparks a chemical reaction that causes miraculin to temporarily distort the shape of these taste receptors, enhancing them and making them so sensitive that the powerful sweet signals they are sending to your brain completely drown out the sour ones.

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