For those of us who pay attention to the health benefits of food, we already know how fruits and vegetables are integral to a healthy lifestyle. But, unfortunately, our fast food culture has made us crave certain foods high in fat and sugar. Most of us have developed taste buds that prefer things that are sweet leaving us with the health consequences of being overweight and undernourished.
When obesity and diabetes have become epidemic, it is important for us to consider ways to make healthy foods fit back into our lives. One possibility is the miracle fruit.
The Natives of West Africa Had a Secret
Miracle fruit is a berry that grows on a shrub that was discovered in West Africa. This berry has been consumed by indigenous peoples for centuries, not for its own taste but for what it does to the taste of other foods. During an excursion by a cartographer commissioned by King Louis XV, he noticed that the locals would eat these berries before eating some of their own food. The secret was that it would make their own bitter fare taste sweet. It seems the miracle of the miracle fruit was in the way it could trick taste buds.
The Protein is the Key to its Abilities
According to a study conducted at the University of Tokyo, the protein found in the miracle fruit latches to sweet receptors. Consequently, when the tongue comes into contact with a sour, bitter, or acidic food, this protein essentially changes their signals.
Potential Health Implications
Although the main uses for miracle berries today are for their taste-altering capabilities, they offer much more potential for a healthy lifestyle than making lemons palatable. Today, making strong tasting foods taste sweet has incredible health implications.
Coming in at only one calorie a piece, a miracle berry has little caloric impact of its own. But when its taste modifying properties are considered, think of what the serious weight loss benefits may be when you can remove sugar from your diet by just tricking your taste buds. This could have serious implications on our current obesity epidemic.
One study has shown that miracle fruit may have an impact on insulin sensitivity. In that study, researchers fed lab rats a diet laced with high fructose for four weeks. Afterwards, they were fed miracle berries three times daily for a total of three days. The researchers noted that the rats had actually reversed their glucose-insulin index over that course of time. This suggests that miracle fruit might aid in improvement of insulin sensitivity in diabetics.
The miracle berry has been shown to have antioxidant properties. Antioxidants kill free radicals in the body. One study identified twelve phenolics and other antioxidants in miracle berries. It has also been discovered that miracle fruit can inhibit oxidation of the fatty acids in fish oil.
One of the only drawbacks of miracle fruit is that it can cause you to overindulge in sour or acidic foods. That is why care should be taken with the amount of these foods eaten in conjunction with miracle berries.