Monellin is a natural sweetener that is approx 1,500 times as sweet as sugar. It is found in the fruit of the Serendipity Berry which is native to Central and West Africa.
It was the first of five natural protein sweeteners to be discovered, (Monellin 1969, Thaumatin 1972, Mabinlin 1983, Pentadin 1989 and Brazzein 1994). Of these Brazzein has shown by far the greatest promise.
Originally Monellin was believed to be a carbohydrate. The 'Serendipity Berry from Nigeria' featured in the 1972 Guinness Book of records as being the sweetest substance known. It was described along with a photograph of a cluster of berries that looked rather like grapes. Being a protein Monellin contains 4 calories per gram but is so sweet that any food portion will contain virtually zero calories.
It is not heat stable or ph stable and so is not suitable for cooking or for processed foods. It loses its flavour in soda drinks due to the fruit acid (lemon etc) and so is not suitable for this purpose. It has a slow sweetness onset that lingers perhaps too long.
Other than local consumption by natives in Africa it has not yet found use as a food, sweetener or pharmaceutical.
Zero glycemic index. Very sweet. Suitable for diabetics. It is a natural product.
No concerns known. Has been consumed for centuries by natives in Africa. Only tiny amounts are needed to sweeten food and the body is able to metabolize it like any other protein.
It can be produced from the Serendipity Berry, though at the present time, no really cost effective method has yet been discovered.
Not yet on the market.
Probably will not be as useful or popular as Brazzein. However certain future specific applications in either the food or pharmaceutical industry are possible.
Japan is the only country so far to have approved it.
Conclusions and Summary:
At the moment its applications are limited as other natural sweeteners exist with better properties and easier production methods. However it may, in time, be found to have unique characteristics and uses.
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