A café in Tokyo, Japan, is selling a kind of coffee called “miraculin” which does not use sugar or any kind of genetic sweeteners. Miraculin is the main element of a tree called “miracle tree” which has been growing in Vietnam for the last 10 years.
In 1725, a French explorer named Des Marchais wrote about a strange custom of the native residents in the western Africa. Their meals were very sour and they did not use sugar. However, after chewing a kind of red fruit, the sourness would be overcome to sweetness, without the use of sugar.
In 1852, the tree was described by Dr W.F. Daniel as having a special feature, and called Synsepalum dulcificum, belonging to Sapotaceae. He also named it “miracle tree”.
According to Pham Huu Hien, MBA from the US South Columbia University, this is a kind of tree which grows up to six meters after 10 years. The tree is suitable for dry soil and bears fruits which turn red when ripening and look very beautiful after the rainy season
Ripened fruits are easily spoiled even when they are preserved in the environment with low temperature. The tree is called “miracle” because its fruits can make the sourness and bitterness of orange and lemon or any kinds fruits become sweet. The local names of the tree are taami, asaa and ledidi. The main element of the tree is miraculin.
Pharmacist Hien said that a café in Tokyo is now offering miraculin coffee with no sugar or any genetic sweetener. The price is relatively high at $15 per glass. The “miracle” fruits are being provided by Namco Company in Japan. Japanese scientists are planning to graft miraculin gene into lettuce tree in order to make production in a large scale after an experiment of grafting miraculin gene into E.coli bacteria failed.
Miraculin is forecasted to dominate the market in the future as a zero calorie sweetener, which can be used in industrial food and used to replace artificial toxic sweeteners. Besides, it can be used to prevent some kinds of diseases, such as weight loss and glycosuria.
The effect of sweetening can last for one hour and it will disappear easily if one drinks a cup of hot tea. Since miraculin has no calories, and it is a natural sweetener, it has been used by African natives for hundreds of years. Many manufacturers hope that the tree can be used widely to treat many diseases which require genetic sweeteners and cannot use saccaroz, such as glycosuria, or obesity.
However, as miracle tree has not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration FDA, this kind of tree can only be grown as ornamental tree in the country. To date, only Japan plans to use miraculin in industrial food, though the US was the country which had the idea. Some sources said that the FDA still want to protect genetic sweetener producers, therefore, it still has not allowed the use of miraculin.
In Vietnam, miracle tree has been mainly grown as ornamental tree instead of being used for making medicine or functional foods. Many experts from the Institute of Ecology and Biological Resources, the Vietnam Museum of Nature, and from the Agricultural Genetics Institute and the Vietnam Functional Foods association said that they are unfamiliar with the tree and its effects.
Miracle trees were imported to Vietnam 10 years ago, and the trees have been grown more profusely in recent years in HCM City as ornamental and medical plants.
Minh Nguyen is the owner of an original garden named Ky Dieu in Tan Xuan commune in Hoc Mon district of HCM City. Talking with Tien phong reporters, he called himself the first person who brought the miracle tree to Vietnam. It was the gift of a friend, a Viet Kieu, who gave it to him 10 years ago.
Hearing about the miraculous features of the tree, Minh Nguyen tried to seek more information about the tree on Internet. Now he is the biggest supplier of miracle trees in HCM City. As Nguyen does not have knowledge about pharmacy, he has just been selling the trees as ornamental trees.
The cheapest tree is selling at 30,000 dong which will bear fruits in two or four years. If people want to get fruits after 1-2 years, they have to buy bigger trees, at 100-150,000 dong. The trees with beautiful red fruits are selling at no less than 600,000 per tree and can be displayed to decorate houses on Tet days.
There are 3-4 gardens which grow miracle trees in HCM City. Some months ago, some garden owners in Hanoi asked Minh Nguyen to carry out a project of carrying the tree to Hanoi.
Source: Tien phong