If you are on the lookout for alternative sweeteners, you have probably heard about monk fruit sweetener. But, do you know where this alternative to sugar comes from and what potential benefits, and side effects, it offers?
Is Monk fruit a new sweeter?
While it may seem monk fruit is a new sweeter, that’s not exactly right. This product has been around for decades, but it was not that easy to get. Its recent popularity derives from the fact that nowadays it’s more readily available than before.
Origin of Monk fruit
The sweetener is extracted from monk fruit, also known as lui han guo. It is a little, brown, round fruit that belongs to the gourd family and grows mainly in southern China and northern Thailand.
The fruit extract is nearly 300 times sweeter than sugar and in China it has been long used as a low calorie sweeter and in traditional Chinese medicine.
Fructose and glucose
The natural sugars it contains are mainly fructose and glucose, but as strange as it may sound, these aren’t the ones responsible for its sweetness! The unique mix of antioxidants it has, called, mogrosides, are the ones that give monk fruit its high sugary taste. During its processing the mogrosides are separated from the juices, hence, the extract doesn’t contain either fructose or glucose. And because the extract is so sweet, manufactures sometimes mix it with other natural products to reduce the intensity of the sweetness.
Main benefits monk fruit sweetener
The main benefit monk fruit sweetener offer is that you can use it as sugar but without the calories. It contains zero calories and many people suggest that it can help in reducing your calorie intake while maintaining the sweet flavor you like in your drinks and breads.
In addition, mogrosides have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and they can help in inhibiting certain harmful molecules and help prevent DNA damage. Moreover, it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels, making it a safe option for people with diabetes.
And while there are many benefits of using monk fruit as a sugar alternative, some people can be allergic to it and can have reactions such as hives, rash, alterations to the pulse, dizziness, a swollen tongue and even stomach pain or vomiting.
As you can see, while monk fruit sweetener can be a great option to substitute sugar but, as any food, you may be allergic to it, so if you want to include it in your diet, be sure to take it little by little to ensure you don’t have any reaction. And if it’s proven to be a safe food for you, use it in your coffee, teas, sauces, smoothies, yogurt, or bread to add a touch of sweetness without the calories!