What is Monk Fruit? The Better Natural Sweetener
By: Melissa Mitri, MS, RD
Are you rocking the low-sugar lifestyle, but don’t want to give up your favorite sugar-laden desserts? If so, monk fruit is a natural, calorie-free sugar alternative to look for on the food label.
What is monk fruit, how is it different from sugar, what are its health benefits, and is it safe? Keep reading for the answers to all these questions and more.
What is Monk Fruit?
Monk fruit is a fruit commonly used as an extract native to southern China. It is produced by removing the seeds and skin of the fruit, crushing it, and then filtering or extracting its sweet portions into liquid or powdered forms.
On its own, monk fruit is said to be 150-200 times sweeter than sugar. To create more of a natural taste, monk fruit extract is often blended with natural sweeteners so that it tastes and looks more like real, natural sugar.
Monk fruit is becoming more popular as an alternative sweetener to sugar in products to reduce the calorie and added sugar content, while still maintaining a delicious level of sweetness.
If you’re like many people and are concerned about the risks of eating too much sugar, swapping to monk fruit-containing products can easily lower your sugar intake.
Monk Fruit Uses
Monk fruit can be added to foods and beverages in several ways:
- In your coffee or tea as a sweetener
- As a sugar substitute in baking
- Sprinkled on unsweetened breakfast items like cereal, oatmeal, or plain Greek yogurt
- Added to baked goods and desserts like cookies, ice creams, and chocolate
- Incorporated into salad dressings
When searching for a monk fruit-sweetened product, look for monk fruit on the ingredient label. It should ideally also contain another natural sugar such as allulose, which helps reduce the sweetness intensity.
Monk Fruit Benefits
There are several health benefits of sweetening with monk fruit or consuming products containing monk fruit.
It does not raise blood sugar
Monk fruit does not seem to raise blood sugar levels as real sugar does. It is therefore a great alternative if you have diabetes or are just trying to keep your blood sugar levels more steady throughout the day.
It may support weight loss
Since monk fruit is calorie-free, it can help reduce your overall calorie intake. Especially if you’re someone that normally consumes a lot of added sugar, replacing this sugar with monk fruit can save hundreds of calories in your day.
For best results, make sure you are consuming monk fruit products that are also free of added sugars, as many monk fruit-containing products may still sneak them into their ingredient list.
You can find added sugar on the nutrition label right under “total carbohydrates.”
It is anti-inflammatory
Monk fruit contains antioxidants called mogrosides that are said to be anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is a big driver of many chronic diseases, and therefore quelching it as much as possible can support optimal health.
Monk Fruit vs. Sugar
While both are considered natural sugars, they have a few key differences.
Monk fruit is 150-200 times sweeter than sugar on its own. This is thanks to chemical compounds in monk fruit called mogrosides, which may have anti-inflammatory and blood sugar-lowering properties.
If you love sweets, you’ll relish the heightened sweetness of monk fruit. If you prefer a less intense level of sweetness, other sugars or sugar alcohols are typically added to buffer that level of sweetness.
Monk fruit has a lower glycemic index (GI) than table sugar. The glycemic index is measured on a scale of 0-100, with 0 being the lowest chance of it raising your blood sugar, and 100 being the highest chance. Based on current expert consensus, monk fruit has a GI score of 0!
While research is undergoing, monk fruit appears to have a very low impact on your blood sugar levels, if any at all. Thus, if keeping your blood sugar in check is a goal of yours, swapping table sugar for monk fruit can be a great way to do this.
One teaspoon of regular sugar contains 20 calories and 4 grams of sugar. In comparison, monk fruit is zero on both counts.
If you’re someone who eats a lot of sugar or products with added sugar, choosing monk fruit instead can shed serious calories and sugar.
When combined with other sugar alcohols and natural sweeteners, monk fruit tastes fairly similar to sugar and helps provide a natural sweetness.
However, if you have it by itself in your coffee, it will taste a lot sweeter, so you probably don’t need much compared to the amount of sugar you’d normally add.
Is Monk Fruit Safe?
Monk fruit is GRAS, or Generally Recognized As Safe, by the FDA since 2010. It has been used as a health remedy and sweetener for hundreds of years, and there have not been any reported side effects.
If you overdo it you may experience some mild indigestion, but this is the case with any natural or artificial sweetener (or most foods for that matter).
Too much of anything isn’t good, so it’s best to enjoy plenty of whole foods and when you do want a sweet treat, enjoy a monk fruit-containing dessert to satisfy that craving.
Risks of Too Much Added Sugar
Why should you consider monk fruit? One primary reason is the inherent risks of consuming too much sugar.
It’s way too easy to overdo it on sugar if you’re not careful. Many of your favorite desserts likely contain boatloads of added sugar that are linked to several health problems:
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain
- Heart disease
- Fatty liver
Using monk fruit-containing desserts can provide the sweetness you crave without the sugar and extra calories that come along with it.
This is a much healthier option than many other keto or low-carb products that replace sugar with artificial sweeteners like Splenda®.
If you’re looking to cut down on your added sugar and calorie intake but still want to enjoy a sweet treat, monk fruit is a wonderful sweetener alternative. It is sweet-tasting, calorie-free, and will not raise your blood sugar.
You can live the no sugar added lifestyle with monk fruit-sweetened products. Here at Zero Brands, we create sweet treats you can enjoy without the added sugar.
Our ice ice cream bars are sweetened with monk fruit, steviol glycosides, and allulose and contain no added sugars or artificial sweeteners. So the next time you’re craving rich and creamy ice cream, look no further than Keto Foods.
This information is not intended to prevent, diagnose, prescribe, or treat any illness or condition, nor does it take the place of sound medical advice. You should always seek out your own medical care and determine the best diet and course of treatment for your unique health needs.