Monk fruit has made a name for itself among sweeteners. The reasons? It is suitable for diabetics, contains no calories, and has a sweetening power of 200 times more powerful than sugar. When it comes to replacing white sugar, there are more and more alternatives available every day.
Honey, agave syrups, panela sugar, erythritol, or even stevia…a new sweetener has appeared recently: monk fruits which come to us from China. It is gradually spreading into sugary drinks and other products. Maybe you have already tried it? If you don’t know about monk fruit, And Its Sweetener Side Effects, read on. We tell you more about this sweetener in the following lines
What is monk fruit?
Monk fruit (Siraitia grosvenorii) is the fruit of a climbing plant in the Cucurbitaceae family. It is native to southern China, where it is known as luo han guo. Its name is believed to come from the fact that its first cultivators were Arhat Buddhist monks.
In the 20th century, it became known in England. It was only in the 1980s that the first discoveries about its sweetening power were reported
This fruit is small and round, it measures approximately 5 to 7 cm in diameter. Its skin is hard, thin, and covered with fine hair. Its color oscillates between yellow, green, and brown. The flesh is eaten fresh and the skin is used to make infusions.
The highlights of its flavor sweetness which is enhanced in powder or liquid extract form. The main culprits of this property are mogrosides, glycosidic compounds extracted from different plants and used as sugar substitutes. There are more and more substitutes for refined sugar. Monk fruit is a natural alternative
The benefit of monk fruit
Although its use in China dates back several centuries, we are faced with a sweetener that has not been as studied as others present in commerce.
Much of the analysis was carried out on animals and, being a new product, long-term effects have not been tested.
However, it is possible to list a number of benefits that come from using monk fruit extract.
Let’s see what these benefits are:
1. Monk fruit is suitable for diabetics
American diabetes association states that for people accustomed to sweetened products, nonnutritive sweeteners may be a good alternative to sugar, honey, and agave syrup. Although their use does not appear to have an impact on glucose regulation, they facilitate lower calorie and carbohydrate intake.
However, this same association strongly encourages reducing the consumption of sugary foods and drinks. They often suggest alternatives without sugar or sweeteners.
2. It does not add calories or flavor
Monk fruit extract provides no calories or carbohydrates. This is why is generally one of the sweeteners chosen by people following a very low carbohydrate diet, such as the ketogenic diet. In addition, its flavor is quite neutral and, when exposed to heat, it does not lose its properties. It is there for a perfect substitute for sugar for sweetening, cooking, and baking.
3. It generally does not cause digestive problems
There are no known bothersome effects derived from its consumption. Some sweeteners of the same type may cause gas, bloating, or diarrhea in some people
4. It has beneficial properties
The composition of Monk fruits is characterized by the presence of carbohydrates and certain minerals. But it also contains flavonoids, phenolic acids, glycosides, and terpenes which are the basis of its medicinal activity. In addition to the properties recognized, there are other studies on its benefits
5. The different ways to use monk fruits as a sweetener
The whole fruit has a very short shelf life and it is too difficult to find it far from the countries where it is grown. For this reason, whole fresh fruits are really consumed and are generally used more in infusions.
The sweetener is made from a dried fruit extract. It can be used in all types of foods and drinks, hot or cold. When measuring, take into account that it is between 150 and 250 times sweeter than the table sugar.
You can test it in the following situations:
- In coffee, tea, or any type of infusion to replace sugar.
- Soft drinks, lemonades, and juices, to sweeten dairy products such as yogurt, kefir, smoothies, or ice creams.
- To replace sugar in the preparation of all types of pastries: biscuits, cakes, and puddings, in this case, it must be taken into account that the texture, taste, and appearance of the pastry may be different.
Possible side effects of Monk fruit
Most regulatory agencies state that monk fruit is a safe food, even for pregnant women and children. These agencies include the European Food Safety Authority (E F S A) and the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Its use is authorized as a sugar substitute and, at the moment, know harmful effects have been observed resulting from its consumption.
However, it should be kept in mind that this is a brand-new product, and its long-term effects have not been studied.
- The biggest risk could come in the form of an allergic reaction. People allergic to plants in the same family (pumpkin, watermelon, or melon) should perhaps refrain.
- Monk fruit is delicate, it ferments very quickly and its cultivation is problematic. These are some of the reasons why it is difficult to find in stores and its high price.
- The monk fruit extract is an interesting sweetener for diabetics. But some of the products to which it is applied may contain other sweeteners that affect blood sugar levels
Monk fruit is a natural sweetener from a plant grown in China. In recent years, it has become famous as a sugar substitute thanks to its benefits.
It is a safe additive, suitable for a very low carbohydrate diet. It should be kept in mind that this is a brand-new product and its benefits have not been tested in humans. Therefore, the best advice is to use it in moderation aandll quantities.
However, its cultivation and export are low compared to the increase in demand for this product. For this reason, it is difficult to find in most stores and it’s often used in the food industry to sweeten drinks.
- Soejarto DD, Addo EM, Kinghorn AD. Highly sweet compounds of plant origin: From ethnobotanical observations to wide utilization. J. Ethno. 2019;243:112056. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2019.112056. [PubMed]
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2014. High-Intensity Sweeteners. http://www.fda.gov/Food/IngredientsPackagingLabeling/FoodAdditivesIngredients/ucm397716.htm (2014). Accessed 29 Aug 2020.