What’s the best sugar substitute to use? There are many options available like saccharin and aspartame. However, these are artificial sweeteners. A healthy choice is natural sweeteners like something called monk fruit extract. You can use different varieties like pure organic monk fruit sweetener.
Fun Fact: It’s believed monk fruit was first used in the 1200s. More on that later. This sweetener can provide several benefits since it’s a natural fruit and low-carb. These are important issues if you’re on diets like Keto or Paleo. In fact, this sweetener along with others like stevia have been trending in recent years.
Like all sweeteners, there are pros and cons of using monk fruit extract. For example, it’s low-carb so a better choice versus white sugar. All types of processed sugarcane including raw, brown, and white are high-carbohydrate so they’re not allowed on Keto and Atkins.
This is also a natural sweetener so it doesn’t contain substances that don’t exist in the natural world. One issue in terms of safety is the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) declared it generally safe less than a decade ago in 2010. However, it’s always possible for some people could have a food allergy caused by food.
What in the World Is Monk Fruit?
This natural sweetener has an interesting name. It makes you wonder if it’s named after someone with the family name Monk or a religious group that’s somehow linked to the sweet fruit. It’s the latter. Food experts believe that Chinese monks first consumed the first during the 1200s AD.
The monk fruit is a green/round fruit that grows on a vine named for the National Geographic president who searched for the fruit in the 1930s. It turns out it was worth the trip. That’s because it’s 0-calorie and reportedly up to 500x sweeter versus white sugar.
Today people use the monk fruit for medical value. Its supporters claim it can help with sore throat and coughing. It’s also believed to increase lifespan. That’s because it grows in a Chinese region that has a sky-high number of people 100+ years old.
It might be surprising that this product’s extracts have hit the market recently. The main issue is the fruit isn’t just sweet but has some other flavors that work against the sweet taste. The situation changed when Proctor and Gamble received the legal rights to use a process that swapped out those tastes the fruit could be used as a sugar substitute.
You can find monk fruit in a couple of US brand names. They include one from the same company that launched Splenda. The irony is this product actually includes sugar, molasses, and sugar alcohol.
You can find more natural monk fruit varieties. They might include 1+ other ingredients but they’re quite close to the whole food. For example, one only includes monk fruit and dextrose (corn-based sugar). It’s not 100% monk fruit but it’s quite close.
In terms of online feedback about monk fruit, they’ve been generally positive. One issue is that some people say it provides an aftertaste. However, it’s considered less bitter versus stevia.
Pure Organic Monk Fruit Sweetener: Pros and Cons
The antioxidants in monk fruit seem to be anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. That’s because they can block certain molecules and damage to DNA/genes. The problem is human studies are needed to test this possible benefit of the natural sweetener.
This is due to the product having no calories/carbs. Since it won’t boost blood sugar it might help people with diabetes. In fact, some mice studies show the fruit might actually lower blood sugar levels. One study showed it boosted good cholesterol and reduced oxygen-caused issues.
3. Weight loss
It’s been claimed monk fruit can help to weight loss. This is due to it being 0-calorie. The problem is no studies have been conducted to test the sweetener’s effects on body weight. However, consider that white sugar has about 775 calories per cup. So, by simply consuming fewer calories you can reduce your caloric intake.
Various studies of others show that natural sweeteners like stevia seem to help lower calorie intake without causing them to feel hungrier. So, it’s possible monk fruit might not only have fewer calories but also cause you to consume fewer of them.
Various studies show that monk fruit extract might help to block the growth of cancer cells. Other studies show it can help to block skin tumors on mice. It’s not clear whether humans could experience the same results although it’s possible.
Monk fruit sweeteners were approved by the US FDA in 2010, which wasn’t even a decade ago. In fact, few studies have been done to test its effects compared to other options like stevia. There doesn’t seem to be side-effects caused by the product.
One caveat is whether you pick an organic/natural and limited-ingredient product. If you do that then there’s less of a chance you’ll have any problems with monk fruit sweetener.
Monk Fruit vs. Stevia
These are two natural sweeteners you can find on the market. Stevia is also extracted from natural food. However, it’s from a leaf rather than a fruit. The plan is native to certain South American regions. The leaves contain some substances that are up to 400x sweeter versus white sugar.
In fact, for hundreds of years, people have been using extracts from the stevia plant as a natural sweetener. However, it’s worth noting the FDA hasn’t given a green light for raw stevia because of possible safety issues. However, the FDA does consider stevia extracts to be safe.
When you buy stevia extracts it might contain two different stevia-based substances. You can actually find several stevia sweeteners at online retailers. It’s important to research them to know exactly what you’re getting. This is especially important in terms of what the product includes. This will help to determine if it’s a good option.
There are some main drawbacks of stevia to consider. They include possible side-effects like bloating and nausea. Another possible problem is an allergic reaction. There aren’t any reported side-effects from monk fruit extract so this is a major difference.
Another drawback is the cost/availability is quite high and not widely available versus other sweeteners including sugar. A related issue is the products on the market might include stevia plus other sweeteners to produce a balanced taste. This is a situation you might have to deal with when picking monk fruit extracts.
Stevia also produces n aftertaste like monk fruit. However, the main difference is it’s a more bitter one. This could be a problem when you consume foods with stevia since it could produce a negative experience.
Another issue is the amount of processing that’s done. This can result in a product that’s not truly a natural sweetener close to the original plant-based products like pure organic monk fruit sweetener.