Gummy bears are my favorite candy ever. So during my week of no sugar, I found it particularly difficult to resist the free gummy bears I came across while running errands in the mall. But one thing made this no sugar challenge a lot easier: the miracle berry.
At Sundance Film Festival I found myself at a wellness lounge (typical) where they were handing out samples of kombucha, organic dark chocolate, and other yummy, healthy things... and that's where I first stumbled upon this little red berry.
"So, what is this?" I asked the dude at the booth. He instructed me to try a lemon. It tasted like a lemon: sour. Then, he had me eat the little red berry and taste the lemon again... I couldn't believe what was happening to my taste buds. THE LEMON CHANGED FROM SOUR TO SWEET! Deliciously sweet, like a real-life pink lemonade lemon.
The experience was so wild, I decided that I needed to make a video about this. The man at the booth who assisted my first flavor tripping experience is named Juliano Bonanni, and he's the founder of a company called Nature's Wild Berry that harvests this fruit on a farm in Florida.
He told me the berry is called the ledidi berry, or Synsepalum dulcificum, its species name. It's nicknamed "the miracle fruit" or "the miracle berry."
How does it work?
The miracle fruit was studied in the 1970s by Linda Bartoshuk, a professor at the University of Florida's Center for Smell and Taste. Bartoshuk found that the berry contains a natural glycoprotein called miraculin. This glycoprotein binds to taste bud receptors, and its sugar molecules shrink the sour receptors on your tongue while increasing sweet receptors. However, the miracle berry only works with acidic foods.
Juliano told me the reason he started Nature's Wild Berry was that he helped his friend lose more than 80 pounds in one year just using the berries to help combat sugar cravings! I needed to put this to the test: can the miracle berry actually help fight sugar cravings? I decided to go no sugar for one week and see.
The miracle berry is helping cancer patients and diabetics
As I started researching the miracle berry more, I discovered that it's actually being used to help cancer patients who are going through chemotherapy. A common side effect of chemotherapy is an unpleasant, metallic taste in the mouth. Some describe the taste as like "having pennies in your mouth," which makes it quite difficult to eat. The miracle berry has been shown to help restore taste buds to their natural state, so cancer patients can actually enjoy food and be able to get the nutrients they need. A study published in the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing found that "all study participants reported positive taste changes with the supplement."
Juliano told me Nature's Wild Berry donates the miracle fruit to any cancer patient who needs it. He also said that Nature's Wild Berry works with diabetics and diabetic centers to help patients reduce sugar and eat more healthfully. A research article published in 2017 in the Journal of Chemistry even found that the miracle berry, "showed notable inhibition of 𝛼-glucosidase, which was much better than that of the antidiabetes drug acarbose." The researchers concluded that the miracle berry, "can be explored as a novel antidiabetes additive with both antioxidant and hypoglycemic bioactivities."
It seems like this little berry has a lot of potential not only to combat sugar cravings and make healthy food taste sweet, but also to help cancer patients and diabetics deal with some of the challenges they face.
I guess the miracle berry is sort of a miracle!