Whether you're practicing a low-carb lifestyle or merely trying to cut back on the sweet stuff, sugar substitutes like monk fruit and stevia are solid choices to sweeten your foods without the added carbs and calories.
We know how harmful too many added sugars can be to our diet, potentially contributing to all sorts of icky health complications—but giving up sweets altogether? Heartbreaking.
Thankfully, monk fruit and stevia can help, containing very little to no calories, which makes them a much better alternative for those looking to improve their overall health -- but which one’s the better natural sweetener?
Read on to discover more about these two beloved sweeteners and which one comes out on top.
What Are Monk Fruit And Stevia?
Monk fruit (aka luo han guo) is a tiny gourd that grows on vines and comes from parts of Southeast Asia, including Thailand and China. Monk fruit was named after its first cultivators -- Buddhist monks back in the 13th century. Because fresh monk fruit tends to spoil quickly, it's typically used in dried form.
As a natural sweetener, monk fruit comes in many different forms, including liquid extract and a sugar-like powder. It provides an intensely sweet flavor 100 to 250 times sweeter than table sugar, so a little goes a long way. Monk fruit sweeteners have been permitted as generally safe (GRAS) by the FDA since 2010.
Stevia, on the other hand, is a sweetener that comes from the Stevia rebaudiana plant of South America. The stevia leaves yield compounds called steviol glycosides that provide a highly concentrated sweet flavor. It's roughly 200 to 400 times more potent than traditional table sugar.
While raw stevia isn't approved by the FDA for consumption, pure extracts are regarded as generally safe. Like monk fruit, you can find stevia in liquid extract and granular forms.
Monk Fruit Pros
Monk fruit sweeteners have many amazing advantages, especially when compared to table sugar. Here are a few of them:
Zero Calories: Monk fruit extract contains absolutely no calories, which is extremely beneficial for those watching their caloric intake.
Zero Carbs: The extract also contains no carbs making it ideal for those on low-carb or keto diets.
Zero Sugar: There's no sugar in pure monk fruit extract, which means that consuming it won't affect blood sugar levels.
Monk fruit sweeteners may also have some incredible health benefits:
Supports Weight Loss: As mentioned, monk fruit has no calories, carbs, or sugar, so it may be a really great option for anyone looking to lose a little weight. You can save substantial carbs and calories by simply substituting monk fruit sweetener for table sugar throughout your day.
Supports the Immune System: The properties found in the tasty fruit help maintain the bacterial balance in the gut that keeps the body's immune system in check.
May Fight Fatigue: According to one study, researchers found that monk fruit extract had dose-dependent energizing effects on mice. Now, obviously, this doesn't prove that monk fruit sweeteners will have the same exact effect in humans, as more research is needed, but if you're feeling a little mid-day fatigue coming on, why not give the natural sweetener a try?
Proper Wild's Clean All-Day Energy Shots combine monk fruit extract with organic caffeine from green tea and l-theanine for all-day focus and productivity -- without the jitters or crash.
Monk Fruit Cons
Unlike other popular sweeteners, monk fruit has no reported side effects. However, here are a couple of reasons why some people may think twice before using monk fruit sweeteners to replace traditional table sugar:
Cost: Monk fruit can be tough to grow and costly to export, which means it's not as widely available as other sweeteners -- and it can be a little pricey.
Taste: Monk fruit sweeteners taste different from traditional table sugar, and some find it a bit unusual. The sweeteners can also leave an aftertaste.
That’s what you need to know about monk fruit — what about stevia?
When compared with table sugar, stevia actually has similar advantages to monk fruit, including:
However, stevia comes with some disadvantages.
Studies show that this natural sweetener may affect the healthy bacteria in your gut. This can cause intestinal upset such as gas and bloating.
Also, while few allergic reactions have ever been recorded, the FDA doesn't approve raw stevia for consumption, unlike monk fruit, which is approved and loved in all forms.
However, much like monk fruit, you may not enjoy the taste and texture of stevia, as it's very distinct from traditional table sugar.
Conclusion: Which One is Better?
So, what's the better natural sweetener?
At the end of the day, it really boils down to which one you think tastes better. Neither have calories, both are natural, and both will help various aspects of your health.
However, if we had to choose one over the other, monk fruit is definitely the superior sweetener. Why? Because it's FDA approved in all forms and has no reported side effects -- unlike stevia.
Monk fruit has a long history of use in China, where it has reportedly been cultivated since the 13th century and where it's officially considered both a food and a medicinal plant by the country's Ministry of Health.
In 2010, monk fruit was found to be "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) by the FDA and has become an increasingly popular natural sweetener across the U.S. Because monk fruit sweetener doesn't contain anything artificial, it generally doesn’t cause any digestive upset.
Stevia, on the other hand, is usually processed and mixed with dextrose (corn sugar), molasses, inulin fiber, and erythritol to make it easier to cook with. Because of this, many people tend to experience stomach troubles when using stevia versus when they use monk fruit.
What's more, the leaves and crude extracts of the stevia plant are banned for use in most nations -- including the United States -- because there hasn't been enough research on them to declare them safe. The only stevia products that can be legally purchased and used in America as sweeteners are highly-purified stevia extracts.
Here at Proper Wild, we use clean ingredients backed by science to craft our delicious 100% plant-based energy shots. They're sweetened with monk fruit, natural juices, and absolutely nothing artificial -- for a clean, smooth taste, without the junk.
With 2x more caffeine than a shot of espresso and 15x more l-theanine than a cup of green tea, try our clean all-day energy shots today and experience all-day focus and productivity, without the jitters or crash.