As per available statistics, sugar in higher quantities is detrimental to our health, and the high amount of calories in sugar can make any healthy person not so healthy. In such times, it is wise to opt for natural alternatives. One such prominent alternative is monk fruit.
Monk Fruit: An Introduction
Monk fruit is a vine that belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family, also known as the gourd family. It is etymologically from China and Thailand. Monk fruit is well known for giving almost 250 times the sweetness of sucrose.
A scientist who travelled miles to discover this cultivation gave this fruit’s scientific name. Initially, this fruit was famous as a sweetener in Chinese medications. Later on, several botanists worked on the fruit to find the component that caused sweetness in the dishes or remedies. Currently, all the information is readily available through various research papers.
Monk fruit leads to lower oxidative stress, reduced risk of obesity and diabetes, reduced inflammation, fatigue therapy, and even a natural allergen due to its unique nutritional combination.
Varieties of Monk Fruit
Commonly, monk fruit gets sold in a powdered form. Also, few brands offer it in a liquid state.
Monk Fruit as a Raw Sweetener
This variety contains no added sugar or alcohol and is made entirely of monk fruit. This variant provides antioxidants, does not alter blood sugar levels, and causes no practical side effects to your body.
Monk Fruit with Additives
This variant consists of monk fruit extract combined with sugar alcohols or stevia. A few examples of sugar alcohols include sorbitol, erythritol, and maltitol. But the issue with this additional sugar substitute is that it causes digestive problems in some people, which can aggravate if not treated correctly. On the other hand, stevia offers the same benefits, but the amount of sucrose and side effects differ from monk fruit.
Nutritional Properties of Monk Fruit
According to the USDA, 100g of monk fruit contains the following nutritional properties:
- Carbohydrate: 0 g
- Total Sugar Alcohols: 0 g
- Protein: 0 g
- Fat: 0 g
- Sodium: 0 mg
- Calories: 0
Monk fruit is a unique and natural sweetener substitute, and this is because the fruit primarily consists of few carbs if it blends with stevia. But don’t be concerned! Your blood sugar levels will not be affected by the contents of one packet. In addition, mogroside, a sweetening ingredient in monk fruit, is an antioxidant that helps in blood glucose regulation.
Monk fruit sweetener contains almost zero calories. In addition, monk fruit sweetener has insufficient quantities of fructose, glucose, and other components, making it a non-nutritive sugar alternative. Although monk fruit includes vitamin C, products made from fruit extract have no minerals or vitamins.
The HealthifyMe Note
Monk fruit sugar is a safe alternative for people with diabetes and is frequently used as a sugar substitute in keto diets because it does not affect blood sugar levels. Children and pregnant women can also consume it because it is certified for general use in the United States.
Health Benefits of Monk Fruit
In general, monk fruit contains essential sugars, fructose and glucose. But the additional sweetness is due to the particular type of glycoside known as mogroside.
A few benefits due to this substance are listed below.
Monk fruit has impressive anti-inflammatory properties, and the compound mogroside that provides sweetness also contains anti-inflammatory substances. According to some studies, these substances inhibit the growth of dangerous cells, preventing chronic disorders.
Mitigates the Effects of Cancer
The sweetening ingredient in monk fruit possesses tumour growth inhibitory properties by promoting apoptosis and cell cycle arrest of pancreatic cancer as part of several studies. Most of them demonstrated desirable cell cycle arrest outcomes.
Some studies also mention that a few varieties of monk fruit also contain anti-inflammatory properties that can control cancerous or oncogenic cells.
Causes No Fluctuation in Blood Sugar Level
The problem with several sweeteners is that they impact the blood sugar level, which can be detrimental to diabetic patients. On the other hand, according to research, monk fruit does not contain any substance that can affect blood sugar levels, and consuming it daily in appropriate quantities does not cause any harm to your body. But, be cautious while choosing monk fruit extract-based products as they may contain sugar or sucrose additives and other flavour-enhancing additives.
Aids in Weight Loss
As mentioned in the nutritional properties section, monk fruit contains no amount of calories and fat. Thus, the body digests and assimilates monk fruit differently than usual sugar. These factors may aid in weight loss eventually in the long run.
Doesn’t Cause Cavities
As there is no natural sugar, you need not worry about cavities. This feature makes monk fruit sugar suitable for children too.
Original monk fruit sugar can add sweetness 250 times that of usual sucrose. Hence you need not buy huge quantities and store them, and you would need a pinch of this sugar for your dish.
The HealthifyMe Note
Overall, monk fruit provides various health benefits. Monk fruit does not include substances that can impact blood sugar levels; eating it in moderation will not affect your body. In addition, it’s a wonderful choice for people trying to reduce weight because it’s fat-free and low in calories. So, use it in your diet to get the most out of this delicious fruit.
Ways to Use Monk Fruit
Monk fruit is excellent on its own. In addition, monk fruit sugar gets consumed in several ways.
A few of them are listed below.
- You can use monk fruit sugar as a sweetener in dairy products like cream and yoghurt.
- You can sprinkle it on top of your salad for a dash of sweetness instead of brown sugar as it does not add calories yet can satisfy the sweet tooth.
- You can replace sugar entirely with monk fruit sugar from coffee, tea, or even some sweets.
- You can use monk fruits in making desserts.
- It can be a medicine in traditional Chinese treatment to cure the common cold and sore throat.
- It can also be the primary ingredient of traditional herbal tea.
Healthy Recipes using Monk Fruit
Chocolate and Raspberry Monk Fruit Cake
Serves: 4 to 5 servings
Preparation time- 20- 30 Minutes
- Chocolate (Bittersweet): 350 g
- Butter (Unsalted): ½ tbsp
- Salt: ¼ tsp
- Coconut Oil: 1 tbsp
- Eggs: 6
- Monk Fruit Sweetener: 1½ cups
- Raspberries: 350 g
- Espresso Powder: 1 tbsp
Method of Preparation
- Firstly you need to preheat the oven to around 325 degrees (Fahrenheit). Now, line the 9inch pan with coconut/cooking oil and foil to avoid sticking up.
- You have prepared the base of the cake.
- Now mix the dark chocolate, unsalted butter, salt, and espresso powder in a bowl. Melt this mixture by constantly stirring and microwaving for 30 seconds, and once it is melted and blended well, set aside this mixture to cool down.
- Take another bowl, add eggs and monk fruit sweetener, and whip it for around 10-15 minutes. Once the eggs start looking thick and pale yellow, stop whipping.
- Once the chocolate mix cools down, slowly add it to the egg mixture by stirring it continuously. Ensure that there is no lump formation. Once both the mixtures are blended well, start adding them to the pan for baking.
- After adding the mixture to the pan, place it inside the oven for around 40-55 minutes.
- The best way to check if your cake is well cooked or not is to insert a toothpick or fork at the surface. If it is well-cooked/ baked, no sticky particles would be attached to the fork.
- While waiting for the cake to get baked, you can prepare the raspberry sauce as a topping/ icing.
- You need to add the berries and 2 tbsp for the raspberry sauce. Monk fruit sweetener in a pan and heat it under medium heat. Stir the mixture until it turns thick. This procedure will take around 20 minutes. Once it cools down, strain out the raspberry seeds.
- Let the sauce and the cake cool down for some time. Once the cake cools down, cut some slices of the cake and serve it with a spoonful of sauce.
This cake is beneficial due to the absence of flour. All the other ingredients of this cake do not contain unnecessary calories.
Monk Fruit and Almond Fat Bombs
This specific recipe is grain, dairy, sugar, and gluten-free and is entirely vegan-based, making it ideal to deal with hunger pangs and craving.
Serves: 4 servings
Preparation time- 30 minutes
Freezing time- 1hr 45 minutes
- Coconut Oil: 1 cup
- Monk Fruit Sweetener: 2 tbsp
- Almond Butter: 1 cup
- Cocoa Powder: ½ cup
- Pink Himalayan Salt: ¼ tsp
- Coconut Flour: ⅓ cup
Method of Preparation
- Mix the almond butter and coconut oil in a pan and heat it in medium heat on a stove or a microwave. Heat until the mixture melts.
- After the mixture is stirred and melted, add the monk fruit sweetener, salt, cocoa powder, and coconut flour.
- Now, freeze this mixture for 90 minutes so that the dough forms a rigid yet flexible mould.
- Once the dough is well frozen, start rolling the dough into small balls. Each ball should at least contain two tablespoons of dough.
- Now, place the balls onto a tray and freeze them for another 15 minutes. You can freeze these balls according to your requirement.
- Your fat bombs are ready to be gobbled up.
Any allergic reaction can be due to the presence of proteins. Since monk fruit contains zero amount of proteins, the chances of experiencing an allergy are rare. Yet as the fruit belongs to the Cucurbitaceae family, people allergic to gourds are advised to avoid monk fruit as they can experience the following allergies.
- Swollen Tongue
- Weak Pulse
- Stomach ache
Potential Drawbacks of Monk Fruit
Monk fruit usually has no side effects. Monk fruit is free from proteins and other sweetening substances; it causes no adverse effects and is safe even for pregnant women and children. According to studies, monk fruit falls under GRAS- Generally considered safe.
Several trials were carried out on various animals to confirm their safety. One study involved giving the specimen more than the recommended medication dosage, but the sample showed no adverse effects.
In the year 2010, FDA approved and labelled monk fruit as safe. Not many studies support the administration of monk fruit to humans and all research circles around animals. But that does not denote that the monk fruit is harmful to human beings. Monk fruit has been famous as a medicine, and there are negligible reports of side effects. However, if you are allergic to the gourd family, you may experience some side effects. Though monk fruit does not have adverse effects, a product similar to monk fruit- stevia, has few side effects.
Even if there is no research supporting the adverse effects of monk fruit, be cautious before buying any monk fruit-based products, as these products may or may not contain preservatives that can trigger an allergic reaction. Otherwise, you do not need to worry about the monk fruit sweetener as it does not cause any allergies.
Storage and Food Safety
- To be precise, you should store monk fruit sweetener in an airtight ziplock bag.
- Usually, it should be refrigerated to retain the freshness every single time.
Practically, everyone can consume it. According to studies, a person can consume up to 60 milligrams of monk fruit per kg of body weight every day. But minor fluctuation in quantity would not cause any adverse effects.
Monk fruit has no restrictions as pregnant women, children, and even diabetic patients can consume it in appropriate quantities. You can have it at any time of the day by including it in any meal or beverage. You can exclude Monk Fruit from your diet only if you are allergic to other gourds.
From these points mentioned above, it is evident that monk fruit is the best alternative to sugar in its original form. Including monk fruit in your daily diet can help weight loss and improve the body’s overall health, and it is the only sugar alternative with no records of allergies. Several studies and experiments on humans are ongoing to gather pieces of evidence to declare monk fruit as 100% safe.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What does Monk Fruit do to your body?
A. Monk Fruit contains natural sweeteners that can reduce sore throats and the common cold. As a result, monk fruit has a long history of usage in Asian traditional medicine. In addition, the sweet component mogroside contains the properties to reduce inflammation and prevent cancer.
Q. What are the pros and cons of Monk Fruit?
A. Monk Fruit possesses the following pros and cons:
- Monk Fruit contains natural sweetening properties that do not impact blood sugar levels.
- Monk Fruit does not add up calories to your body.
- Monk Fruit has no practical side effects.
- Monk Fruit is difficult to cultivate.
- It may carry a specific aftertaste.
- Rare to find.
Q. Is Monk Fruit better for you than sugar?
A.Yes, monk fruit is the best alternative to sugar. Mogroside, a sweetening ingredient in monk fruit, is an antioxidant that makes it 200–250 times sweeter than usual sugar. But if you want to reduce the effect of sugar, you can majorly focus on consuming vegetables, fruits, and whole grain-based foods.
Q. Is Monk Fruit a Superfood?
A. The origin of monk fruit dates back to the 13th Century. Monk fruit has been in use in traditional Chinese medicines. Thus, it gained the title superfood as it does not carry any side effects and has anti-cancer properties.
Q. What is healthier, Monk Fruit or Stevia?
A. Stevia and monk fruit are natural sweeteners, and neither overpowers the other. But some studies show that stevia may activate the bacteria in your stomach that can cause gas/ bloating and cause allergies. To avoid this, the FDA has prohibited stevia’s raw consumption, whereas one can consume monk fruit in any form at any time of the day.
Q. Is Monk Fruit good for your gut?
A. There is no scientific evidence suggesting monk fruit’s effects on your gut. Hence, monk fruit is perfectly safe to eat and will not cause any digestive problems.
Q. Does Monk Fruit raise Insulin?
A. Monk Fruit contains mogroside, which can slightly increase insulin production in the pancreatic beta cells. However, monk fruit does not impact blood sugar levels because it has zero calories or carbs.
Q. Why does Monk Fruit have erythritol?
A. Monk Fruit sweeteners in the market usually combine monk fruit sweeteners and erythritol. Erythritol is sugar alcohol added to monk fruit to ensure that the texture transforms and looks similar to regular table sugar. Erythritol does not add any calories to the Monk Fruit sweetener.
Q. Does Monk Fruit Sugar have any side effects?
A. No, Monk fruit sugar primarily has no side effects. Several tests on animals with alteration of dosages show no adverse effects, and active research on human beings is going on to support this fact. Only people who are allergic to gourds should avoid monk fruit sugar.
Q. Is Monk Fruit Sugar Anti-Inflammatory?
A. Monk fruit sugar contains mogroside that has anti-inflammatory properties, which can even fight cancer by preventing the growth of oncogenic cells and restoring the contact inhibition property of the cell wall.