Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
23 May

Miracle Fruit

From reading MDA, you might get the idea that we’re a little too focused on health, wellness, nutrition, and fitness for our own good. I can’t say I blame you. We do love our facts, our science, and our experiential evidence (hey, when you’re a vocal proponent of a lifestyle in direct opposition to Conventional Wisdom, you need to back your claims up), but we also stress that the Primal Blueprint is about enjoying life and fulfilling our existence. Our recipes are healthy, but they’re also rich, hearty, and delicious. Our exercise recommendations are intense and effective, but they’re also interesting, varied, and fun. The concept of regular play and social bonding is a huge part of our philosophy, and we fully promote the consumption of reasonable amounts of red wine and good dark chocolate (preferably together). That said, a post on miracle fruit is long overdue, and, to be expected.

Miracle fruit plants, or synsepalum dulcificum, produces berries that, when eaten, cause sour foods to taste sweet. The active chemical, called miraculin, binds to the tongue’s taste buds, changing the way they interpret flavors. It sounds like something out of Willy Wonka’s factory, but is it truly miraculous? Well, diabetics and dieters have been using it in Asia for decades. It has little inherent nutritional value, but it turns sour sweet and enhances/alters the taste of other things in some pretty remarkable ways.

Our own Worker Bee can attest to the berry’s powers. He gathered a bunch of friends together, told them to bring various foods and beverages, while he provided the miracle fruit. Instead of using the fresh berry – which can be difficult to find and expensive to boot – he used the freeze-dried tablets.

After dissolving a tab on his tongue, he dove into the bounty, which included:

  • Guinness beer (the best of all; tasted like a chocolate milk shake)
  • Blueberries (tasted like the best blueberries ever)
  • Cherry tomatoes (tasted a bit like Concord grapes)
  • Lemons (tasted like lemon candy)
  • Wine (awful; tasted like “painfully sweet dessert wine”)
  • Jalapeños (sweet on the outside, spicy on the inside, rather overwhelming)
  • Mustard (tasted like sweet frosting)
  • Ritz Cheese Sandwiches (admittedly not Primal, but the cheese filling tasted like Oreo filling)

More neutral flavored items like beef jerky, nuts, or pretzels were basically unchanged. His favorite combination was dark chocolate topped with tomato slices and slathered in mustard. Strangest of all, he said, was that using the miracle fruit wasn’t a radical departure from the normal flavor profiles of the food. He could still tell he was eating a tomato, or drinking a beer; it’s just that the sweet/sour/bitter sensations were all out of whack (but in a good way).

It definitely sounds like miracle fruit is worth a try. And it might sound tempting to a Primal Blueprinter struggling with sugar cravings to buy berries and go to town on a bag full of lemons, but I would stress caution. Not only would the acid of the lemon still have an effect on you (try eating a lemon; the citric acid can cause sores), but chasing the sugar dragon – even if it’s technically nutritionally viable – will only keep your cravings going strong. You don’t want to shell out money (miracle berries are rather pricey) every time you want something sweet, do you? It’ll get expensive after awhile and, worst of all, you’ll probably eventually get sick of the flavor. I’d say try the miracle berries, but practice moderation to save your wallet and keep the experience fresh and fun.

Our Worker Bee ordered his tablets online from ThinkGeek and was happy with the experience, and I found a list of worldwide providers of the fruit at Good luck, and tell us all about it!

torrez, Arthaey Flickr Photos (CC)

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I can see trying this on many different things just for the novelty of it. I wouldn’t do that to Guinness though. I wouldn’t want to change perfection.

    jpippenger wrote on May 23rd, 2009
  2. Hahahaha, I was at a Miracle Berry party a month ago or so. Guinness beer was indeed amazing. I also thought eating sour patch kids with cream cheese was fantastic with the berry pill. Admittedly about as far from Primal as you can get, but I probably won’t ingest miracle berries again for a very long time, and it sounded like a funny combination. (Hard cheese tastes like crap though)

    Bons wrote on May 23rd, 2009
  3. Very interesting, I heard something about this fruit before… but now I want to try it out! :)


    Coffee & Vanilla wrote on May 23rd, 2009
  4. It might be fun for kicks, but I doubt this is something I’d use for dieting. I’d rather taste food the way it is naturally.

    I finally kicked the sweet habit (I think) and I enjoy the taste of sweet foods so much more now that I only have them occasinally, rather than daily.

    Diana Renata wrote on May 23rd, 2009
  5. Never heard of this fruit. Sounds like a fun experiment, but as tou say, the chemical nature of the food would remain unchanged. I would be leery of intentionally messing with my taste buds too often. Nature took a long time getting them this way for a reason.

    Greg at Live Fit wrote on May 23rd, 2009
  6. Thanks for the link to Think Geek. Now I want a USB ab-crunching dog and a snowball pistol!!

    peggy wrote on May 24th, 2009
  7. I tried a miracle berry working on a nonprofit seed farm. The hibiscus leaves were sweet and candy, and slices of fresh lemon were especially delicious! I can’t imagine imagine how sweet something like honey would be, haha.

    Lauren B wrote on May 24th, 2009
  8. I am much more of a bitter junkie than a sweet tooth. I wish there was a fruit that would make sweet things taste more like ginger! Until then I just keep enjoying chunks of raw ginger.

    Camille wrote on May 24th, 2009
  9. Oh my god i remember this berry,

    i really think this product has great potential for kids eating fruit instead of just sweets and diabetics as an alternative to all the chemical equivalent sweeteners.

    i picked some berries up from a while back hopefully i shall get a plant soon from there for regular use!

    JennyPierson wrote on May 27th, 2009
  10. Miracle fruit is perfect for diabetes and diet.

    Check out the website

    CUL8R wrote on May 31st, 2009
  11. Miracle Fruit really is amazing!

    Miracle Fruit Fan wrote on July 23rd, 2009
  12. Miracle berries are super, I love them, recently bought some on Amazon

    Maria Melendez wrote on May 31st, 2010
  13. Excellent. In recent news, researchers were able to produce tomatoes that can synthesize miraculin, the taste-changing component in miracle fruit. This has huge implications because it will make the miraculin source easier to grow and will yield larger quantities. I’m sure we’re in for a bigger wave now. Great post.

    Angel Miracle Fruit wrote on August 19th, 2010
  14. Miracle fruit is an under-appreciated blessing to the primal lifestyle; it was originally marketed for diabetics but was swept under the rug when the sugar industry realized they could have some serious competition for the lead in sweeteners.

    This should really be pushed more than it is; you can eat healthy and have sweets at the same time due to this amazing little berry. I personally am a huge fan of the changes in tomatoes and limes after having a tablet.

    A great way to have a deliciously sweet desert without having to worry about being unhealthy!

    Matt wrote on May 17th, 2011
  15. You actually make it seem so easy together with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something that I think I’d by no means understand. It seems too complicated and very large for me. I’m taking a look forward to your next put up, I will attempt to get the grasp of it!

    Chuyen de vat li wrote on November 11th, 2011

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