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Monk Fruit 101: A Complete Guide

This content originally appeared on On a regular basis Health. Republished with permission.



Written By Stephanie Thurrott

Medically Reviewed by Lynn Grieger, RDN, CDCES

As more people attempt to reduce on sugar within the foods they eat, and avoid artificial sweeteners, the marketplace for natural products that may mimic sugar’s taste has grown. One natural sweetener specifically that has been growing in popularity is monk fruit, or luo han guo. This calorie- and carb-free sugar alternative, which is extracted from a fruit, has been used for a whole lot of years in its native China, but only began popping up on Western restaurant tables, supermarket shelves, and social media feeds within the last 20 years or so.

So, is monk fruit actually a healthy alternative to sugar? Here’s what to find out about this increasingly popular sugar substitute and packaged food ingredient.

What Is Monk Fruit?

Monk fruit, also called luo han guo, is a small brown fruit that grows in China, where people have been using it medicinally for a few years, in line with research published within the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology in July 2022. In traditional Chinese medicine, it’s used to lubricate the lungs, soothe sore throats, restore the voice, moisten the intestines, and keep the bowels moving, in line with a study published within the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in January 2020.

In America, monk fruit is especially used as a zero-calorie, zero-carb alternative to sugar, and sold as a powder that might be added to coffee, tea, smoothies, or oatmeal. You can too buy it as a liquid, or as a granulated product formulated to make use of in baking. You’ll sometimes see monk fruit added to packaged foods like chocolate or granola bars.

Research on monk fruit and its extracts is ongoing, but it surely shows promise in managing inflammation, diabetes, cancer, and other health conditions.

Common Questions & Answers

Is monk fruit higher than sugar?

An excessive amount of of either isn’t helpful. There is no such thing as a acceptable each day intake established for monk fruit, but studies have used amounts as much as 60 milligrams per kilogram of body weight without negative effects.

Are you able to eat monk fruit if you will have type 2 diabetes?

Yes. Monk fruit might be a more sensible choice than sugar because it may possibly help stabilize blood sugar levels. It will possibly also help individuals with diabetes manage their weight and heart health.

Does monk fruit have calories?

No, monk fruit doesn’t have calories or carbs. That’s what makes it a pretty alternative to sugar, which has 16 calories and 4 grams of carbs per teaspoon.

How do you employ monk fruit?

You’ll commonly see monk fruit in a sweetener packet that you would be able to add to coffee, tea, smoothies, or oatmeal instead of sugar. It’s sometimes added to packaged foods. And there are types you should use for baking and cooking.

What does monk fruit taste like?

Monk fruit is between 100 and 250 times sweeter than sugar. That’s why the packets are so small, and you possibly can’t do one-for-one substitutions if you’re baking with it. Some people have noted a bitter aftertaste.

Dietary Facts of Monk Fruit

In response to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), a serving of monk fruit sweetener accommodates zero calories and lower than one gram (g) of carbohydrates. That makes it a pretty substitute for sugar, which has 16 calories and 4 grams of carbs in a teaspoon, per the USDA. Monk fruit sweetener has grow to be popular for devotees of low-carb diets just like the ketogenic food plan. It’s comparable with other sugar substitutes akin to stevia and saccharine.

Potential Health Advantages of Monk Fruit

Research thus far on monk fruit has mainly studied effects on animals and on human cells, not on humans. “These studies can provide us insights into the potential of monk fruit and monk fruit extract,” says Samantha Cassetty, RD, the Recent York City–based coauthor of Sugar Shock. “Nevertheless it’s really hard to say anything definitively by way of long-term safety and efficacy based on what we all know at this point.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determined that monk fruit extracts were generally recognized as secure in 2017. In December 2019, nonetheless, the European Food Safety Authority concluded that there’s not enough data to find out whether or not monk fruit extracts are secure.

Still, monk fruit shows potential health advantages in these areas:

  • Blood Sugar Management In response to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), sugar substitutes, including monk fruit, could help some people higher manage their blood sugar, weight, and heart health. The ADA does note, nonetheless, that “there isn’t a clear evidence to suggest that using sugar substitutes will help with managing blood sugar or weight or improving cardiometabolic health in the long term.” One study of obese rats with type 2 diabetes found that a certain monk fruit extract helped control blood sugar and levels of cholesterol, which contribute to diabetes, in line with the outcomes, which were published within the Journal of Ethnopharmacology in January 2020. These findings still have to be confirmed in humans.
  • Cancer Monk fruit may show promise to slow cancer growth within the pancreas and treat cancer within the larynx and colon, in line with research published in July 2022 within the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology.
  • Inflammation The antioxidants monk fruit accommodates might need anti-inflammatory effects, in line with research published in Toxicology in Vitro in February 2022.
  • Asthma Theoretically, monk fruit could have properties that might help lessen inflammation in asthma, in line with a study published in Phytomedicine in October 2021.
  • Parkinson’s Disease Researchers are exploring whether a component in monk fruit might affect the event of Parkinson’s disease, in line with research published in Molecular Neurobiology in April 2022.
  • Alzheimer’s Disease study on mice that was published within the Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology in May 2019 found that a component in monk fruit may show promise in slowing the memory impairment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Can Monk Fruit Help With Weight Loss?

It’s possible that monk fruit sweetener could contribute to weight reduction. Because monk fruit doesn’t contain any calories, “It could assist you to shed weight if you happen to were eating lots of sugar and now you’re eating monk fruit as a substitute,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You from Label to Table. “Nevertheless it’s not as if monk fruit causes weight reduction.” Also, foods that use monk fruit as a sweetener as a substitute of sugar should still be high in fat and calories.

“Monk fruit extracts assist you to cut carbs and sugar, so perhaps that helps you shed weight in that moment. However the long-term payoff doesn’t appear to be there. That’s why it’s not necessarily higher than sugar,” Cassetty says.

While research on monk fruit extract is ongoing, a study published within the International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research in February 2019 found that sugar substitutes don’t necessarily provide the weight-loss effects you would possibly expect. One theory as to why: Individuals who use monk fruit or other sugar substitutes may compensate for the shortage of calories by consuming more elsewhere.

Risks and Side Effects of Monk Fruit

“Monk fruit extract hasn’t been studied to the identical degree as other alternative sweeteners, but the information on alternative sweeteners is de facto mixed,” Cassetty says. The sweetener has been deemed secure by the FDA, and doesn’t appear to cause the unwanted side effects you would possibly see from sugar alcohols akin to sorbitol and mannitol, which might cause bloating, stomachaches, and diarrhea in some people.

While monk fruit itself has been used for a whole lot of years in Chinese culture and medicine without reported harmful effects, a study published in February 2023 in Nature Journal raised the alarm about industrial monk fruit products, which are sometimes made with erythritol, a sugar alcohol. For individuals with existing risk aspects for heart disease, including diabetes, high levels of erythritol of their blood nearly doubled the percentages of experiencing a heart attack or stroke, in line with the study.

“I’d say including just a little bit occasionally in your food plan is okay, but if you happen to’re counting on heavily sweetened things, that’s a chance to take a look at controlling your sweet tooth just a little bit,” says Cassetty.

While monk fruit is becoming more widely available, it may possibly be somewhat pricey. Moreover, it is feasible to be allergic to monk fruit. If that happens, you would possibly notice hives, a rash, difficulty respiration, a rapid or weak pulse, dizziness, a swollen tongue, stomach pain, vomiting, or wheezing.

How you can Use Monk Fruit in Recipes

Despite the fact that monk fruit is as much as 250 times sweeter than sugar, in line with the FDA, you possibly can buy monk fruit extract that has been formulated to be used in baking. Check with the package for directions on how much to make use of instead of sugar. “Just concentrate on what you’re buying,” Cassetty says. You would possibly see other ingredients added to the monk fruit extract, akin to erythritol or sugar, which could have potential risks, as previously mentioned.

For those who’re inquisitive about experimenting with monk fruit extract within the kitchen, the next recipes can assist you to start:

While monk fruit is normally utilized in baking, it may possibly replace sugar in savory dishes, too, akin to:

Summary

Amongst sugar substitutes, monk fruit extract stands out as a natural carb-free, calorie-free sugar alternative that has been used for hundreds of years. That said, it has not been studied thoroughly, and extra rigorous research is required to find out any potential advantages or long run effects of consuming it. Monk fruit extract is commercially most available in processed forms, as well, and sometimes mixed with other, less desirable ingredients, so be sure you read package labels to know what you might be ingesting, and speak together with your healthcare provider if you will have any existing health conditions before making big dietary changes. Used occasionally, monk fruit generally is a healthy solution to satisfy a sweet tooth.

 

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