Chances are you’re pretty familiar with stevia, the popular sugar substitute derived from the Stevia plant -- but what about monk fruit extract, another calorie-free sweetener that’s been making waves in the health-conscious community over the last few years?
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), monk fruit extract can taste up to 250 times sweeter than standard table sugar, thanks to chemical compounds called mogrosides which give the beloved fruit its characteristic sweetness.
But where does monk fruit come from, and is this increasingly popular sweetener actually good for you?
You have questions, and we have answers. Read on to discover everything you need to know about monk fruit sweeteners.
First Thing’s First: What is Monk Fruit?
Monk fruit—also known as Swingle fruit or the “longevity fruit”—is a small melon found in southern China and northern Thailand.
Many of the areas where monk fruit grows are home to Buddhist temples, and monk fruit has been used to aid digestion and ease cold symptoms in Eastern medicine for centuries. These ancient Buddhists nicknamed monk fruit Arhat and Lohan fruit, which refers to someone who’s reached nirvana. Monk fruit is still handpicked and harvested in these regions, where it’s then sold at local markets or dried for distribution across Asia.
Although monk fruit has been around for 800 years, it wasn’t brought to the United States until 1941, when the National Geographic Society brought it to the U.S. as seeds and dried fruit. Monk fruit extract is often used as a sweetener because it’s over 250 times sweeter than sugar but with no calories, carbohydrates, fat, or sodium.
Monk fruit’s sweetness comes from mogroside antioxidants that the human body metabolizes differently than other natural sugars. Aside from the obvious benefits of a sweetener without calories, carbs, fat, and sodium, monk fruit’s antioxidants fight free radicals. Free radicals are what cause our skin to age prematurely after being in the sun, as they steal electrons and break down our skin’s collagen.
Antioxidants can give free radicals the electrons they want without becoming free radicals in the process. This ability makes them essential to skincare and in preventing other diseases caused by tissue damage.
What Are The Health Benefits of Monk Fruit?
Unlike other popular no-calorie sweeteners, monk fruit doesn’t just taste undeniably amazing — it’s also good for you! Courtesy of its antioxidant properties, monk fruit has been used in medicinal remedies for hundreds of years. Check out a couple of these great health benefits below:
Big Benefit #1: Boasts Antioxidant Superpowers
Thanks to its antioxidant superpowers, monk fruit has been shown to combat oxidative stress and free radical damage that can lead to not so great health.
As mentioned above, the popular fruit contains mogrosides, which are sweet but also very healing. Consuming foods that are high in antioxidants may help to reduce oxidative stress because antioxidants can donate an electron to unstable free radicals and prevent them from harming the body.
Big Benefit #2: Doesn’t Spike Blood Sugar
Consuming too much sugar has been linked to obesity and many other preventable diseases. Thankfully, using monk fruit as a no-calorie sweetener can help you to cut back on your sugar intake. Additionally, unlike table sugar, monk fruit is extracted from the plant of what’s typically a non-GMO fruit.
Yes! Other than providing some unbelievable health benefits, a few other pros to using monk fruit sweetener include:
Zero Calories: Monk fruit extract contains absolutely no calories, which is extremely helpful for those who are watching their caloric intake.
Zero Carbs: The popular extract also contains no carbs, which is ideal for those on low-carb or keto diets.
Zero Sugar: Another reason why so many people love monk fruit is that it contains no sugar. This means that you can consume it without worrying about your blood sugar levels being affected.
No Harmful Side Effects: Unlike other popular sweeteners, the FDA considers monk fruit sweeteners to be generally regarded as safe. There appears to be no evidence that it can cause any harmful side effects.
Available In Multiple Forms: Monk fruit sweeteners are available in many different forms, from powders and granules to liquids.
How is Monk Fruit Sweetener Different From Stevia?
Both monk fruit and stevia are popular no-calorie sweeteners that have zero impact on blood sugar levels -- so what’s the difference?
Well, stevia is made from the stevia plant, which is an herb that belongs to the Asteraceae family.
While both are solid options for those watching their caloric and carb intake, keep in mind most stevia products that are sold in the U.S. are highly processed and mixed with dextrose (aka corn sugar), molasses, erythritol, inulin fiber, or cane sugar to make them easier to cook with.
This is why stevia causes upset stomach in more people than monk fruit does.
What’s more, the FDA has not approved the use of stevia leaves or crude stevia extracts.
By contrast, monk fruit sweetener doesn’t cause stomach issues, and no other side effects have ever been reported -- even in children, pregnant, and nursing women. That being said, while both stevia and monk fruit have their benefits, monk fruit sweeteners seem superior to stevia sweeteners.
A Final Word
Monk fruit extract is an incredible sweetener that has a ton of health benefits. Plus, while many artificial sweeteners tend to wreak havoc on our gut health, monk fruit isn’t artificial -- so you shouldn’t experience any stomach woes when consuming it.
Not to mention, monk fruit sweeteners have been classified as generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA since 2010, a category that requires expert consensus that a food ingredient is safe for its intended use.
Although monk fruit sweeteners are relatively new to the food supply, we’re beginning to see great products emerge containing the powerful extract to provide sugar-free, calorie-free, and low-carb options -- like the clean all-day energy shots from Proper Wild!
Here at Proper Wild, we only use clean and simple ingredients backed by science to create our 100% plant-based energy shots. Crafted with organic caffeine from green tea and L-Theanine for focus and productivity, our energy shots are truly something special.
Unlike other commercial energy drinks, our energy shots are sweetened with monk fruit extract, natural juices, and absolutely nothing artificial-- for a clean, smooth taste, without the junk.
Whether you’re looking to improve your focus or boost your energy, our clean all-day energy shots can help. Check out our inventory of mouth-watering energy shots and see why so many people are turning to Proper Wild today!