Raw deal for dieters

A few days ago, the Post ran a story about gymnemic acid, the “anti-miracle fruit” mentioned here before. The acid is extracted from an herb and blocks the mouth’s sweet receptors when it’s consumed. As a result, anything sweet tastes terrible.

According to the article, a new product called Sugarest that contains the ingredient is being marketed to dieters and smokers trying to quit. From the Post:

Using a concentrated form of this ingredient, a company has developed a tablet that, when sucked or chewed, rapidly makes all sense of sweetness disappear for up to 30 minutes.

Why would someone want sweetness out of their lives, even temporarily?

George Kontonotas, president of Genotec Nutritionals Inc. in Commack, N.Y., says it helps overweight people resist sugary snacks and removes the sweet taste from tobacco smoke.

He says cigarette manufacturers put at least 20 substances into cigarettes, including cloves and apple juice extract, to make smoking more palatable. When sweet receptors on the tongue cannot sense those tastes, “the true taste of tobacco is awful.”

The taste-blocking effects of the active ingredient, gymnemic acid, have been known for some time, but the herbal tablet was introduced to stores in New York just last month.

It’s too bad this stuff is allowed while miraculin is held hostage by FDA roadblocks. If I were dieting and had the choice between a substance that makes healthy things taste sweet and another that makes delicious things taste terrible, there’s no question I’d want the former. Stupid government.

I’ve also got to correct Kontonotas’ misleading statement about the “true” taste of tobacco. As with coffee, some tobaccos taste fantastic on their own, and some are low grade and are only palatable with lots of additives (as found in most cigarettes). It doesn’t make sense to speak of the plant’s “true taste” under the influence of a drug designed to screw with your taste buds.

[Cross-posted at EatFoo.]


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