Imagine sinking your teeth into a freshly sliced, thick, juicy, yellow lemon wedge. As each of the small vesicles pop, your tongue is flooded with the brightly acidic juice. Your mouth puckers and your face contorts in response to the overwhelming sourness that engulfs your taste buds. In fact, your whole body is likely to respond to such an experience with an involuntary, violent shudder!
However, if you happen to consume the extracts of the "miracle fruit" beforehand, that raw lemon would taste like candy straight from the sweetshop.
The plants are indigenous to the jungles of West Africa. And the prized berry extracts contain a protein, called miraculin, which has the "miraculous" power to make sour and bitter foods taste intensely sweet. It's no science-fiction; miraculin binds to receptors and tricks taste buds into sensing sweetness. The effect lasts anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours. Ironically, the fruit itself has no real taste.
Though this fruit was discovered more than 50 years ago, the miracle fruit is enjoying a recent surge of popularity. Aside from the cool-factor of this fruit, many people believe the miraculin protein will be the sugar of the future, with implications for health conditions like obesity and diabetes.