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What's Monk Fruit and Why is Everyone Talking About It?

Monk fruit, less commonly known as luo han go, is the newest natural zero-calorie low carb sweetener to make it's way into the Western health world and people (dietitians, especially) are going nuts for it!


Read on to learn why it's leaving Stevia in the dust.


What is Monk Fruit?


Monk fruit is a small green melon that originates in southeast Asia. It's been used by centuries for monks for it's natural sweetness and health benefits. It's recently made its way into our markets as a dried powder sugar substitute.


Benefits of Monk Fruit


Taste & Usability

The main reason people are ditching Stevia in favor of monk fruit is the taste. Many people notice an unpleasant aftertaste with Stevia.


Monk fruit is a clear winner here. It doesn't have the intense aftertaste that Stevia has, and to many people it tastes just like real sugar.


Monk fruit can also be used just like real sugar. The granulated and powdered forms are used in a 1:1 ratio for baking and cooking. You can also find it in a liquid form.


Use it in everything from your coffee to your coffee cake!


Blood Sugar Stability

The main benefit of monk fruit is its lack of affect on blood sugar. It's naturally sugar-free, which makes it perfect for anyone with blood sugar issues [1].


This is great news for prediabetics, diabetics, people with heart disease or hormone imbalances, and anyone who experiences a "crash" after consuming sugar.


Weight Loss

With zero calories and zero carbs per serving, monk fruit is the perfect sugar substitute for anyone trying to lose weight or limit their sugar intake.


With monk fruit, you can still enjoy sweetened items like cookies, lemonade, pancakes without the added calories or sugar.


Monk fruit is also a much better choice than artificial sweeteners, which may actually cause weight gain [2].


Potentially Anti-Inflammatory

Monk fruit gets its sweetness from natural compounds called mogrosides. Mogrosides are considered anti-inflammatory, antioxidative, and anticarcinogenic [3]. Monk fruit itself has yet to be isolated as an anti-inflammatory agent, but the research is promising.


No Known Side Effects

Although we don't have long term studies, the Food and Drug Administration states that monk fruit is generally recognized as safe for everyone, including children and pregnant women.


It also doesn't seem to cause the unpleasant digestive issues that many natural nonnutritive sweeteners can cause, especially sugar alcohols like xylitol and sorbitol.


Recipes:

Potential Weaknesses of Monk Fruit


Cost

Monk fruit does come with a higher price tag than white sugar. It's difficult to grow and costly to important. Pure monk fruit can cost 2-3x as much as sugar.


Sourcing & Quality

Because it's relatively new to the U.S., monk fruit can be hard to find in conventional grocery stores. Most specialty health food stores and even some Costco's carry it now. You can also find it on Amazon or online.


Be sure to check the ingredients before purchasing. To keep costs low, some companies cut the powdered monk fruit with dextrose. Dextrose does have carbs & calories.


One company, Lakanto, keeps their cost low by cutting the monk fruit with erythritol. This is a zero calorie, zero carb product so it's okay for diabetics and anyone following a keto diet.



Allergic Reaction

Monk fruit is a member of the gourd family (which includes pumpkin, squash, cucumbers, and

melons), so people allergic to these foods may also be allergic to monk fruit.


Signs of an allergic reaction:

  • Hives/rash

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Rapid or weak pulse

  • Dizziness

  • Swollen tongue

  • Stomach pain

  • Wheezing

Leave a comment! Have you used monk fruit? What were your thoughts?