updated 11/22/2005 4:58:09 PM ET 2005-11-22T21:58:09

A Japanese cafe started serving up berries that make sour desserts sweet Tuesday, offering dieters the chance to indulge in snacks without piling on the calories.

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The desserts at the Miracle Fruits Cafe in Tokyo contain almost no sugar and are unbearably sour, but come with a berry from the Synsepalum dulcificum plant — also known as miracle fruit — which make the sour desserts sweet to the taste, according to Namco Ltd., who runs the cafe.

"You could eat a whole lemon and it would taste sweet," Namco spokesman Yuko Tsukui said of the berries, which accompany desserts on the cafe's menu — all of which have less than 100 calories, or one-fifth that of normal cakes and puddings.

The berry's juices affect the tongue for about 30 minutes to an hour and can be washed away with hot tea or water, Tsukui said.

Found in Western Africa, miracle berries contain the protein miraculin, which stimulates the tongue's taste buds and makes sour food and drinks taste sweet.

Though discovered centuries ago, miracle berries have not been widely marketed because they are easily perishable. But a Japanese supplier recently developed a way to freeze-dry the fruit, allowing for a stable supply of the berries, Tsukui said.

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