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What is Miracle Berry?

I just randomly came across this berry, while researching some stuff on sugar. I had read that the miracle berry makes sour foods taste sweet and it’s like magic. I was curious enough to order some and try it. I wasn’t expecting much, figured it was just a lot of hype, but still curious. I popped one, chewed it up and went straight for the lemon (might as well go hard). Hesitant and expecting the sourness…BAM! it was the sweetest lemon I ever had, not in the least bit sour. It actually worked. I basically stared trying every fruit in the kitchen. They were all unbelievably sweet…the best version of the particular fruit I ever had.

The effects from the miracle berry lasts for about a half hour. But damn, that was an interesting half hour (Don’t take much to get me excited). Let’s find out more about this berry.

What is the Miracle Berry?

The miracle berry is the fruit of a plant known scientifically as Synsepalum dulcificum, and is native to West Africa [1, 2]. The berry itself is red (kinda like a cranberry), about 2 cm in length and contains a single seed. It was first discovered in West Africa by Chevalier des Marchais, during a 1725 excursion, while he was looking for different types of fruit on the continent.

How does it work? The berry contains miraculin (MCL), a protein, which is  flat in taste at neutral pH, but has taste-modifying ability to convert sour stimuli to sweetness. The molecule essentially binds to the taste buds and at low pH (sour foods), miraculin activates the sweet receptors, resulting in the perception of a sweet taste [3]. It not only increases the sweetness perception, “…If you had a strawberry, it’s not just the sweet that goes up, but there’s a dramatic intense strawberry flavor,” says Linda Bartushuk, director of human research at the Center for Smell and Taste at the University of Florida.

The berry itself has about 1-2 calories and is mildly sweet. The effect can last anywhere from half an hour, to an hour. In my personal experience, it tapers off after the half hour mark.

Benefits of the Miracle Berry

Helps reduce obesity Maybe…This is not a magic pill. It could be used in foods to improve the flavor profile and increase the sweetness. Then it may be possible to either eliminate, or at least greatly reduce the amount of sugar, in a donut or other desert or drink, for example. In this sense you’re consuming less calories which should help with obesity.

Helps with Diabetes? In a 2006 study, miracle fruit was used to investigate the effect on insulin resistance in rats. It was found that a single oral dose of the powder of this miracle fruit decreased the plasma glucose for 25 hrs in rats fed fructose-rich food for 4 weeks. Also, the in-vivo (live rat studies) insulin sensitivity was greatly raised by the miracle fruit [4]. Unfortunately this was the only study published in a reputable science journal that I could find. If you come up with something else, let me know.

Antioxidants A 2014 study of miracle berry identified  12 types of phenolics in the fruit. Phenols have the ability to scavenge for free radicals, which are harmful to the human body. The study also showed that miracle berry significantly inhibited the oxidation of polyunsaturated fats in fish oil [5]. This study along with others also revealed that the free phenolic content in the berry skin was almost 3 times of that in pulp and 4 times of that in seeds and reduces oxidation [6, 7, 8]. There have been no human trials/studies to date to test the effectiveness of the miracle berry in a realistic setting, but promising none the less.

Final Thoughts

Lots of promise for diabetes and good antioxidant activity, but few studies. The ability to make sour/bitter things taste much sweeter is the one thing that’s been shown to work. If anything it makes for an interesting time eating normally sour tasting foods. I’ve tried it and it works so well. There’s no danger to using it. It’s been consumed in West Africa and added to foods for centuries. I think it would be pretty cool to just experiment with cooking and baking. It can be somewhat expensive, since it is not something that is mass produced, but is easily found on Amazon and other places on the web. So go ahead and give it a try!

14 thoughts on “What is Miracle Berry?

  1. The miracle berry certainly appears to possess interesting characteristics with its ability to make sour foods taste sweet. 

    When you did your test with the lemon, was it just one little berry that you consumed to get these effects? I am curious if sour foods would taste even sweeter if more berries are eaten. Also is there any down side to using these berries for this effect too often or over an extended period of time? 

    Your article has really peaked my interest in these tiny berries. I am definitely going to learn more about them. This could be the answer to getting my picky kids to eat more healthy foods hah! Thanks so much for the helpful info! 

    1. Just 1 little berry. I don’t think eating more makes it sweeter, once the taste buds for sweetness is activated, more isn’t going to enhance the activation.

  2. I haven’t heard a whole lot about miracle berries so this is a really interesting and useful post thank you. Pretty wild that the miracle berry can make sour foods taste like sweet foods and that it actually worked when you tried it on a lemon. The science behind this fruit is pretty fascinating, especially in that the pH can increase the intensity of something like a strawberry. An added bonus is the health benefits related to obesity, diabetes and antioxidants. You peaked my interest and I’ll definitely be checking out the miracle berries through your link here, thank you!

  3. I must say, I haven’t heard of this miracle berry before, but it sounds awesome. You say the effects last a half an hour. What effects do you mean? Are they the ones you describe below that? Or do you mean that you eat it and then can eat sour things for a half hour after eating the berry? I just wasn’t clear on that.

    This post has definitely piqued my curiosity so I think I am definitely going to try a few of these healthy little berries for myself.

  4. Miracle berry? Never hear about them. I’m interested in this article, you wrote wisely. It is a useful article.

    My husband’s brother has diabetes; I will tell him about the miracle berry, and I believe he would like to try them out.

    How do you think, are they better to use pills or tablets? Do they have a side effect?

    Thank you for the content; knowledge is power!

  5. The miracle berry, the things we find on this fitness journey!

    Do you eat the entire berry including the seed or just the berry? They look like little jelly beans you’d pop all day. Given their effects, I’d say you can compare them to giving your taste buds a “high.” I could see how this would be helpful for those trying to curb a sugar addiction. Instead of eating donuts and drinking soda to wash them down, they could pop one of these and eat some baby carrots with water, instead. That is, given they’re disciplined enough to avoid the sweets at the grocery store! Much potential as a supplement these miracle berries have.

    1. You eat everything. I didn’t notice any seed either…It’s dried when packaged and sort of crisp…

  6. Anything that makes food taste better will definitely help reduce body fat overall. The fact that it even sweetened lemon gives this product a lot of promise, as if it can make a lemon taste sweet, it can make anything sweet. For me, especially since I can be a carboholic during a few and far in between “cheat meal,” I might be able to bypass even them with Miracle Berry.

    But in all seriousness, those who have a tough time consuming more nutrient-dense food due to lack of taste, or if they just prefer the sugary taste, it’ll be something for them to try. It’s a renewed hope. 

  7. This is a great whole food benefit for anyone who can afford to eat what seems to be a super healthy food with the additive type benefit of using this as a sweetener substitute to prevent those healthy deficiencies that may be hereditary or not, such as diabetes. They also look like pills. Looks like a fit for chewable vitamins. 

  8. Hi Dave,

    This post sure is packed with information about this berry  and its various benefits. Mandarins are in season at the moment I’ve been buying a couple of kilos at the local fresh food market at the moment.

    They are pretty sweet but I wonder what they would be like after a couple of these berries? probably pretty amazing!

    I’m eager to try these berries in a smoothy or juice something of that nature.

    Have you got any good simple recipes (for bachelors) that are pretty straight forward that you could add these berries too? Even if its just a link to another recipe its all good.

    If your a fan of banana bread let me know… I have a killer recipe that takes 10 minutes to prep and 1hr in the oven 😉

    -All the best

    -Will

  9. Hey thanks for answering the question on what is Miracle Berry for me today as I was researching this product. Thanks for also helping me to find a place to order it since I am always open to new and exotic foods with benefits for less sugar consumption as this certainly helps to reduce healthy risks. 

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