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Monk Fruit: A Zero-Sugar, Zero-Calorie Sweetener
Monk fruit, also known as luo han guo or “Buddha fruit”, is a melon-like fruit grown in southeast Asia. Due to the climate needed it requires, you probably haven’t seen monk fruit around your grocery store very often. However, this fruit has recently become well known for its use as a zero-calorie sweetener. After being used in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years, the FDA approved monk fruit’s use as a sweetener in 2010. The sweetener is created when the skin and seeds of the fruit are removed, and the remaining fruit is crushed so that the juices can be collected. The juices are then dried out into a powder that can be used by consumers. Monk fruit sweetener can also be found as larger granules or in liquid form.
What makes monk fruit sweetener unique from other sweeteners is that the sweet taste does not come from sugar molecules like glucose, fructose, or lactose. Monk fruit does contain glucose and fructose, but these sugars are removed during the process to create the pure sweetener. Instead, monk fruit sweetener gets it sweet taste from something called mogroside – an antioxidant found in the fruit. The mogrosides in monk fruit make it extremely sweet, up to 250 times sweeter than an equal amount of sugar.
Pure monk fruit sweetener has many benefits when compared to other sweetener options. First, because the actual sugars are removed during processing, the product is zero-calorie. This will allow you to avoid blood sugar spikes that can be brought on by a sugary treat, and it also can help you avoid gaining extra weight because you will not be taking in additional calories. Along with being zero-calorie, pure monk fruit sweetener is also zero-carb, which is great for people who are watching the amount of carbohydrates they take in. Pure monk fruit is also completely natural which allows you to avoid all of the artificial chemicals that can be included in other sweeteners. Lastly, studies have shown that the mogrosides found in this sweetener may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Where to Find Monk Fruit
As with all things, there are a few cons to using monk fruit sweetener. The most challenging part of using monk fruit as a sweetener is being able to find it. Because the actual fruit can be challenging to grow, this sweetener is not as readily available as sugar and other common sweeteners. You may also notice that pure monk fruit can cost more than other sweetener options. However, keep in mind that you do not need to use as much monk fruit as you would other sweeteners because it is so potent. This means that a little bit will go a long way. Always check the label of the monk fruit sweetener you are purchasing to ensure there are no additional compounds added.
The most important thing to keep in mind when buying monk fruit sweetener is to only purchase sweeteners containing pure monk fruit. Because monk fruit is very sweet naturally, some producers will add other artificial ingredients, such as inulin or erythitol, to make the product less sweet. One of the reasons monk fruit is a better option than other sweeteners is that it allows you to avoid eating any of these compounds. By purchasing only pure monk fruit, you can avoid consuming these other ingredients and dealing with any negative side effects they may cause.
Using Monk Fruit
Now, you may be wondering how to incorporate monk fruit into your own nutrition plan. This sweetener can be added to any food or beverage that you would like to sweeten. Keep in mind that monk fruit can be 100-250 times sweeter than typical table sugar, so you only need to use small amounts of it. See the chart below to substitute pure monk fruit for sugar.
Pure Monk Fruit Sweetener
1 heaping teaspoon
For many people, monk fruit offers a great alternative to other sweetener options because it allows them to avoid calories and chemical additives while still enjoying something sweet. If you are curious about how switching to monk fruit may impact your overall health, we recommend you contact your primary care physician or dietician.
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