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Miracle fruit secret revealed

Berry sensitizes tongue's sweet sensors to acidic flavors

5:30pm, September 27, 2011

Scientists have finally explained how a little red berry makes just about anything, from the sourest lemon to the bitterest beer, taste as sweet as honey. A protein found in the fruit tickles the tongue’s sweet-sensing machinery, its effects intensifying in the presence of acidic flavors like citrus and carbonated drinks.

Researchers and foodies alike have long known the effects of the miracle fruit (a.k.a. Richadella dulcifica). At flavor-tripping parties, guests will pop a berry then chew, chew and chew some more, letting the masticated fruit linger on the tongue. Then the sampling begins: Guinness tastes like a chocolate shake, Tabasco loses its sting and pickles their mouth-pinching tang. Lemons and limes gush with sweetness.

While the active ingredient in miracle fruit — miraculin — has been known for decades, it hasn’t been clear exactly how the protein confers its sweetness. Now scientists in Japan and France report that mira

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