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Over the years, scientists have worked to establish the secret behind miraculin, a red berry that sensitizes the tongue with sweetness. In a recent science news article, Rachel Ehrenberg revealed scientists’ latest discovery on the little red berry. According to them, the plant does not use sugar to tickle the human tongue, instead, it uses protein. The article goes on to point out that the effects of proteins range with PH values.
Also, the sweet-sensing machinery of the tongue is said to work effectively in acidic flavors such as carbonated drinks and citrus. The so-called miracle fruit, which is also branded as Richadella dulcified, has been known for decades. Even though researchers have been successful in establishing miraculin as the active ingredient in Richadella dulcified, it has been difficult to ascertain how the protein bestows sweetness. However, the latest discoveries have shown that it bestows sweetness based on the acidity of the environment. For instance, at PH of 4.8, the sweet sensing cells of the tongue react twice as much as when at PH values of about 5.7.
Further reduction in acidity blocks the sweet sensing cells as they transform in shape. This is quite intriguing given that proteins are not known for their sweet taste. It is sugars that are known to induce taste in fruits. As has been seen in berries, some plants, which cannot generate a huge amount of sugars, use proteins to bestow sweet punch. Nonetheless, the United States Food and Drugs Administration has not approved its use in food. Moreover, according to Paul Breslin, if the protein is heated, it may fall apart (Ehrenberg, 2011, p.1).
This is a massive discovery, especially because it emphasizes the ability of the protein to bestow sweetness. We know that plants store sugars in their fruits. This makes them sweet and invites animals to help sustain their continuity (reproduction). In essence, I know that only sugars bestow sweetness. Moreover, I have never bothered to investigate if the sweetness differs from one PH value to another.
This, therefore, comes as a surprise with all its intriguing ideas on proteins. However, I have also found it difficult to establish why berries are usually very sweet and whether they generate such large quantities of sugar. The article is therefore quite interesting as it brings forth discoveries on protein behavior (Ehrenberg, 2011, p.1).
After reading this article, several questions linger in one’s head. These include the process of bestowing sweetness, PH values, chemical reactions that ensure sweetness at some PH values and not others, among others. It may also be interesting to know if such discoveries in protein can be utilized in reducing blood sugar levels by commercializing it. It would also be important to know if the protein can be found in other plants or if it can be extracted and researched for its usability. In essence, numerous questions come up, to understand the protein fully. Another question that may come up is why the United States regulatory agency FDA has not approved its use in food (Ehrenberg, 2011, p.1).
The article was very interesting as it showed that not only sugars can bestow sweetness, but also proteins. It also brought to light the numerous unknown protein behaviors such as its ability to transform shape in different PH values as well as its ability to bestow sweetness in an acidic environment. It is quite important to note that these theories are generally astonishing given the background on protein behavior. All the same, the world is full of discoveries and I believe more is yet to come (Ehrenberg, 2011, p.1).
Ehrenberg, R. (2011). Miracle fruit secret revealed: Berry sensitizes tongue’s sweet sensors to acidic flavors. Science News. Web.