Halal Consumer - Issue 30 - page 10

Miracle Fruit
Often referred to as miracle berry, miracle
fruit is a berry native to West Africa pos-
sessing a mild sweetness. What makes
this fruit remarkable is not its flavor, but
that the flavor binds to the tastebuds caus-
ing anything sour or bitter to taste sweet
for up to two hours. A glycoprotein called
miraculin induces sweetness and enhances
the flavor of any acidic foods that are
eaten after eating miracle berry. There are
taste-testing events where attendees eat
the berry followed by various vegetables
in order to witness the drastic change in
taste of the familiar vegetables. Ahmad
confirmed that her mouth was sweet for a
while after eating this fruit and even lemon
juice was tolerable.
Referring to the benefits of miracle fruit,
Ahmad states, “Its extracts can be used as
a low calorie sweetener. Since it is consid-
ered more natural compared to artificial
sweeteners, the fruit and its extracts
may be worth seeking out to those who
are interested” in a healthier, low calorie
alternative to sugar. Miracle fruit may be
purchased online in the form of fresh ber-
ries, freeze-dried granules, or tablets.
Carambola, commonly referred to as
starfruit because of its shape, is native to
South Asia and the Pacific Islands and is
one of the easier exotic fruits to find in
the United States. They can be found in
some traditional grocery stores as well as
Asian supermarkets and farmer’s markets.
The opinion of starfruit is very split—some
love it, while many people find starfruit
quite bland. Chicagoans weigh in: Ronia
Abdelrahman says, “Starfruit tastes like
nothing;” Sherry Barakat claims it is a
“watery, dull-tasting cross of pineapple,
pear, and melon;” and Ebony Scott, who
has tasted starfruit several times, always
hopes for a better flavor but never receives
it. She concedes, “Starfruit is a waste of
time and energy.”
Taha admits that eating starfruit is “like
eating cardboard; there’s absolutely no
purpose.” On the contrary, Shirien Damra
finds starfruit to be unique, with a great
taste and appearance. Omar Othman and
his wife, Nadia, agree. They both tried star-
fruit from a street stand in Thailand and
found it “fresh and juicy.”
There are different varieties of starfruit
diverse in size and color whose taste ranges
from bland to sweet, which could explain
the vast difference of opinions. Perhaps not
everyone has tasted the same variety.
For those who have kidney ailments, it
is recommended by the National Kidney
Foundation to avoid starfruit because it
contains a neurotoxin that induces illness
if the kidneys are unable to filter out the
toxin. If your kidneys are healthy, and you
want to vary your diet with something fun
and refreshing, give starfruit a try.
These fruits are all intriguing and unique
in their own way. It is nice to try new foods
and break up the monotony of eating tradi-
tional fruits every day. Next time you’re in
need of groceries, try a specialty market and
ask for one of these exotic fruits. Transform
your diet into something exciting!
is a graphic designer from the
Chicago area. She has an MA from the School of
the Art Institute of Chicago and her interests include
writing, research, food, tea, and natural living.
Fall 2014
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