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Miracle berry

Hot topics: Can this berry curb your appetite?

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Hot topics: Can this berry curb your appetite?
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Looking for a way to curb your sweet tooth?

There's a new "miracle berry" - a West African fruit about the size of a cranberry - that might be able to help.


The berry contains a glycoprotein - conveniently named miraculin - that temporarily fools taste buds into believing that sour and bitter things taste sweet.

Chef Homaro Cantu believes the pill could help at-risk and current diabetics curb their sugar cravings. Miracle berry supporters also believe it could create a whole new encyclopedia of gastronomy - including leaves, barks and grasses - that could expand the globe's edible yield.

"All of the plants that we do not consider food that are safe for the human body to digest, we don't eat because they're sour and bitter. The reason why you don't eat Kentucky bluegrass or crabgrass is because it tastes sour and bitter," Cantu explains.

Despite his focus on diabetes and famine, Cantu was first introduced to the ingredient because of another global health issue - cancer - in an attempt to help a friend.

To figure out how to combat the metallic taste that comes from radiation and chemotherapy, Cantu along with pastry chef Ben Roche chewed on car tire rubber and foil for months trying to mimic the flavor. After trial-and-error with random ingredients, the chefs finally figured it out with help from the miracle berry.

Since then, Cantu has given away the miracle berry to thousands of chemotherapy patients with no reports of adverse reactions.

But this story isn't without a sour note. Because in fact, the berry has been around awhile and in 1974 the FDA rules that miraculin wasn't "generally recognized as safe" and labeled it a "Food additive" instead of a natural sugar substitute.

Cantu and other miracle berry advocates have been trying to reverse its reputation since.