Tablets of taste-modifying 'miracle fruit' go on sale+
(Japan Economic Newswire Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)TOKYO, Jan. 16_(Kyodo) _ Tablets made from miracle fruit, which makes sour things taste sweet, went on sale Sunday online, the developer of the tablet technology said.
Mitsuharu Shimamura, a 31-year-old horticulturist based in Chita, Aichi Prefecture, said that after a joint study with a Taiwan agricultural firm, he established the world's first technology to make tablets out of the tropical fruit, native to West Africa, which contains a sweet-inducing protein called miraculin.
An Osaka-based trading company began selling the tablets online at a price of 3,990 yen for a package of 10.
One pink-colored tablet is made of three miracle fruit berries, Shimamura said.
When people eat or lick the miracle fruit's red berries, any sour thing they eat or drink a minute later tastes sweet for about two hours. This is because the protein miraculin firmly binds to sweet receptor cells in a person's tongue when sour substances are present.
The protein then transmits a false message to the brain, resulting in a strong, sweet taste in the mouth. The tablets will cause exactly the same effect, he said.
Shimamura, a researcher at NGK Insulators Ltd., expects diabetics will use the tablets to enjoy a sweet taste by artificially sweetening food or drinks with them.
The researcher is the first grower of miracle fruit in Japan to succeed in having the plant regularly bear fruit. To grow the tropical fruit, the temperature must be kept at over 20 C and high humidity should be maintained.
It is easier to grow the fruit in Taiwan than in Japan, he said.
Shimamura said he will present the miracle fruit tablet mass production technology at an academic conference of the Japanese Association for the Study of Taste and Smell, which is to be held at Kyushu University in July.
In Tokyo and Osaka, there are restaurants called Miracle Fruit Cafe which offer sweets using the fruit.
Information on the tablets is available at http://www.miracle-fruit.net/.
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