Alternative sweeteners are extremely popular as a way humans can combine our love for sweets with our desire to be healthy. One such sweetener that has become increasingly popular over the past couple of years is monk fruit sweetener.
Monk fruit—also known as Swingle fruit, lo han guo, or “longevity fruit”—is a tiny, round gourd native to Southern China. Monk fruit also grows in Northern Thailand, and monastic communities in these areas have been using monk fruit as an herbal remedy for over 800 years.
The Buddhist monks even referred to monk fruit as Lohan or Arhat fruit, words referring to a person who’s achieved enlightenment. Monk fruit was finally brought to the United States in the 1940s, and it’s now more widely used as seeds, dried fruits, powders, and as a sugar replacement.
Monk fruit sweeteners are appealing for three major reasons: it’s unbelievably sweet, so a little goes a long way, it won’t raise your blood sugar, and it has no carbs or calories. Plus, there are no reported side effects, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has categorized monk fruit extract as GRAS—“generally recognized as safe."
Interested in learning more about this popular sugar-free sweetener? We can help! Read on to discover everything you need to know about monk fruit.
What is Monk Fruit Sweetener?
Simply put, monk fruit sweetener is extracted from monk fruit. First, as in any fruit extraction, harvesters remove the monk fruit’s skin and seeds. Then, the fruit is washed, crushed, and boiled before its juice is filtered to remove sucrose and fructose.
The resulting solution is then dehydrated into a concentrated powder that sweetens using mogrosides. The mogroside antioxidants are why monk fruit is 250 times sweeter than table sugar, without any added preservatives.
What Are The Health Benefits of Monk Fruit?
Monk fruit’s lack of calories, carbs, fat, and sodium are something to celebrate, but its health benefits are so far beyond weight loss. Monk fruit can fight free radicals, balance your gut, and combat fatigue—all without side effects.
Benefit #1: Fights Free Radicals
Mogrosides aren’t just sweeteners—they’re powerful antioxidants. Free radicals cause oxidative damage in our bodies, from collagen breakdown in the skin to tissue decomposition elsewhere in the body. These little agents of chaos do their damage by stealing electrons from other molecules, creating even more free radicals in the process.
Free radical damage can contribute to inflammatory diseases, cardiovascular issues, cataracts, and even cancer. Antioxidants like the mogrosides found in monk fruit can fight free radical damage by providing an electron to the unstable molecule without becoming a free radical itself.
Benefit #2: May Be Good for Gut Health
Unlike regular table sugar that often provides a conducive environment for the growth of less than desirable microorganisms in our bodies, it’s thought that pure monk fruit extract contains substances that can be especially beneficial in maintaining the right balance of microorganisms in the gut, ultimately promoting gut health and healthy digestion.
Benefit #3: Supports Weight Loss as Part of a Healthy Diet and Exercise Plan
Naturally, as a fruit without fat, carbs, sodium, or calories, monk fruit is a wonderful dietary option for anyone trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight. Substituting monk fruit extract for table sugar will significantly decrease your carb and calorie intake throughout the day.
Plus, it's keto-friendly for those hopping on the keto diet train to help lose a few inches.
Benefit #4: Combats Fatigue
One intriguing study done on mice concluded that monk fruit extract might help to combat fatigue. Now, obviously, this doesn’t prove that monk fruit sweeteners will have the same effect in humans as much more research is definitely needed, but in case you want to give monk fruit a try the next time you feel that midday fatigue rolling in -- we recommend a clean all-day energy shot from Proper Wild. Our mouth-watering 100% plant-based energy shots are sweetened with monk fruit, natural fruit juices, and absolutely nothing artificial, for a clean, smooth taste, without the junk.
Benefit #5: No Side Effects
Most non-nutritive and low-calorie sweeteners can cause uncomfortable side effects like bloating or gas. And some artificial sweeteners like Splenda and Equal are controversial because of possible effects in overconsumption. In the case of monk fruit sweeteners -- there are no known side effects. In fact, the FDA has deemed monk fruit “generally recognized as safe (GRAS)” for everyone, including children and pregnant women.
Monk Fruit vs. Other Sugar Alternatives
If you’re on a low-carb or sugar-free journey, you have probably tried other alternatives to sugar like sugar alcohols and stevia. Monk fruit offers so many advantages that may be well worth the switch.
Here’s how monk fruit stacks up against other alternative sweeteners:
Non-nutritive sweeteners like sugar alcohols got a lot of hype over the last few decades because they significantly decreased the amount of calories in various foods. But unfortunately, calorie-free sugar alcohols like dextrose, aspartame, and sucralose can be harmful to your health.
One recent study found that sucralose was responsible for damaging the delicate gut microbiome in mice and inducing liver inflammation.
Meanwhile, aspartame consumption -- even in small doses -- may:
Induce oxidative stress
Cause systemic inflammation
Disrupt the oxidant and antioxidant balance
Damage cell membrane integrity
Deregulate cellular function
As an extract from a healing plant, monk fruit sweetener is totally free from these side effects.
The natural sweetener most similar to monk fruit is stevia. Both options contain zero carbs, calories, and sugar and come from a natural source. Both are suitable for low-sugar baking in the kitchen because they are heat stable.
But between the two, monk fruit reigns supreme because stevia comes with a few unwanted side effects.
Stevia has been known to cause gastrointestinal (GI) discomfort in some people, including gas and bloating. Although evidence is limited, researchers believe that this may be due to chemical processing, where stevia is mixed with sugar alcohols that can negatively affect healthy gut bacteria.
Monk fruit can be added to almost anything, from baked goods and oatmeal to drinks such as tea and coffee. Be sure to use monk fruit extract in moderation because it’s way more potent than traditional table sugar.
You can also find monk fruit in our clean all-day energy shots here at Proper Wild!
Sweetened with natural juices and nothing artificial, our 100% plant-based energy shots are truly something special. They are crafted with clean and simple ingredients, backed by science, designed to maximize your productivity.
With 2x more caffeine than a shot of espresso for long-lasting energy and 15x more L-theanine than a cup of green tea for focus and productivity, our clean all-day energy shots are a total game-changer and will help to keep you relaxed and focused for hours.
Try our delicious clean all-day energy shots and see the difference that clean ingredients can make today -- you just might be surprised!