Most of us probably couldn’t pick out a monk fruit in the produce aisle, and truth be told, it’s not likely to catch your attention amidst luscious lemons, colorful apples, and vibrant oranges.
But the monk fruit is getting a great deal of attention these days from health-conscious foodies, sugar-free devotees, and those in the diabetes community.
The Monk Fruit
As people increasingly avoid sugar, alternative sweeteners have become more popular. One popular sweetener is monk fruit sweetener, also called monk fruit extract.
Monk fruit sweetener has been around for decades but has recently grown in popularity since it’s become more readily available.
It’s natural, contains zero calories and is 100–250 times sweeter than sugar. It is also thought to have antioxidant properties.
This article tells you everything you need to know about monk fruit sweetener.
What is Monk Fruit sweetener?
Monk fruit sweetener is extracted from monk fruit. The monk fruit is also known as luo han guo or “Buddha fruit.”
It’s a small, round fruit grown in Southeast Asia. This fruit has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) didn’t approve its use as a sweetener until 2010.
Monk fruit, or lo han guo, is a small green melon native to southern China and named after the monks who first cultivated it centuries ago.
The health benefits of the fruit have been well-known in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for decades, but its sweet little secret is finally making it into the wellness mainstream.
The sweetener is created by removing the seeds and skin of the fruit and crushing it to collect the juice, which is then dried into a concentrated powder.
Monk fruit contains natural sugars, mainly fructose and glucose. However, unlike in most fruits, the natural sugars in monk fruit aren’t responsible for its sweetness. Instead, it gets its intense
the sweetness from unique antioxidants called mogrosides.
During processing, mogrosides are separated from the fresh-pressed juice. Therefore, monk fruit sweetener does not contain fructose or glucose.
Because of this extract maybe 100–250 times sweeter than table sugar, many manufacturers mix monk fruit sweetener with other natural products, such as inulin or erythritol, to reduce the intensity of the sweetness.
Monk fruit extract is now used as a standalone sweetener, an ingredient in food and drinks, a flavor enhancer, and a component of sweetener blends
Effect on weight management
Monk fruit sweetener has been claimed to aid weight loss. Since it contains zero calories, many people suggest that it can reduce your total calorie intake.
Nevertheless, it’s relatively new to the market, and no studies have assessed its effects on weight.
However, studies on other low-calorie sweeteners indicate that it may lead to modest reductions in body weight.
Studies report that replacing regular-calorie sweeteners with low-calorie versions can result in a modest weight loss of fewer than 2 pounds (0.9 kg).
One review found that people who consumed low-calorie sweeteners and drinks also tended to consume less added fat, sugar, alcohol, and other sources of empty calories.
In another study, people who used stevia or aspartame rather than sucrose ate fewer calories without reporting any differences in hunger levels.
Currently, no research has examined how monk fruit sweetener specifically affects weight. However, evidence suggests that low-calorie sweeteners may aid weight loss.
More research is needed. Although mogroside extracts from monk fruit may have health benefits, more research is needed.
To date, studies have used high doses of monk fruit extract that are much more concentrated than what you’re likely to encounter with a sweetener.
It’s not clear what dosage you would need to experience any of these health benefits.
Is it safe?
Monk fruit sweetener is relatively new to the market, as the FDA only recognized it as generally safe in 2010.
Unlike other low-calorie sweeteners, monk fruit extract doesn’t have many studies examining its effects.
However, this doesn’t mean that it’s harmful.
Monk fruit has been used as a food for hundreds of years, and there have been no reported side effects from eating the sweetener.
The bottom line
As the name implies, monk fruit sweetener is derived from the juice of monk fruit. Although more research is needed, it appears to be a safe and healthy sugar alternative.
It’s naturally-derived, calorie-free, and may even provide health benefits.
How to use Monk fruit sweetener
- Substitute for sugar with monk fruit when baking.
- Substitute sugar in sauces and dressings.
- Sweeten breakfast foods with monk fruit.
- Sprinkle monk fruit on sour fruits.
- Add monk fruit extract to coffees and teas.
- Blend monk fruit into smoothies.
- Talk to your doctor about monk fruit and weight loss.
- Switch to natural flavors if monk fruit causes cravings
- Avoid monk fruit sweetener with additives.
- Talk to your doctor if you have diabetes.
Monk fruit extract contains no calories and no carbs, making it a great option for a ketogenic diet.
The mogrosides may also stimulate the release of insulin, which can improve the transportation of sugar out of the bloodstream to help manage blood sugar levels.
There are no known side effects to consuming monk fruit and it’s recognized by the United States Food and Drug Administration as being safe.
Monk fruit is keto-friendly and use can use it in low carb baked recipes where sweetness is required.
Start with adding a little bit at a time so as not to over sweeten. If monk fruit triggers cravings for other sweet foods, it may be best if you avoid it altogether.
Monk fruit sweeteners taste different from regular table sugar, and some find the taste unusual or unpleasant. The sweeteners can also leave an aftertaste.
Most nonnutritive sweeteners can cause side effects like gas, bloating, or allergic reactions. … In the case of monk fruit sweeteners, there are no known side effects.
Monk fruit is challenging to grow, harvest, and dry. It’s also expensive to import and process. This makes monk fruit sweetener more pricey than other nonnutritive sweeteners.
It’s also why there are fewer monk fruit sweetener options on your local supermarket shelves.