Monk Fruit: Not Your Regular Fruit

Posted by Renee Chan on

monk fruit image

You’ve most likely heard of natural sweetener alternatives like stevia, agave nectar and xylitol. Given the negative consumer attitudes toward synthetic sweeteners, the push for natural sweeteners have been on the rise. Yet, people still speculate on how healthy natural sweetener alternatives actually are. 

Let's explore the potential of monk fruit and its derived sweetener, unsurprisingly named “monk fruit sweetener”. 

Wait a Sec…What’s Monk Fruit?
Monk fruit, also known as Luo Han Guo, comes from the gourd family. It’s named after the Buddhist monks who first cultivated it centuries ago in Southern China, and has been traditionally used in Chinese medicine as an antitussive remedy for sore throats for hundreds of years (1). 

Unlike most fruits, you won’t find monk fruit at the produce section because fresh monk fruit spoils rather quickly after harvesting (2). As a result, you can only find dried monk fruit in Canada, typically at Asian supermarkets. 

Monk Fruit vs. Monk Fruit Sweetener 
The bottom line is that monk fruit sweetener is derived from the mogrosides found in monk fruit, not the sugars! Monk fruit is crushed to collect the juice which contains mogrosides, fructose, and glucose. During processing, only the mogrosides are extracted and dried to create monk fruit sweetener, which excludes fructose and glucose from being in the final product (3). 

You might be wondering: why aren’t the natural sugars (fructose and glucose) extracted if it’s supposed to be a sweetener? While monk fruit does contain natural sugars, they don’t contribute to the sweetness. Instead, the sweetness is actually due to the mogrosides in monk fruit. All mogrosides are zero-calorie sweeteners, ranging from 150-200 times sweeter than sucrose (4). 

But Don’t Worry! 
Mogrosides are actually a type of antioxidant, and antioxidants play a major role in protecting our biological systems from damaging free radicals (5). Mogrosides are labelled as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) by the FDA, making it available in the market as a sweetener or flavour enhancer (4). 

Studies have found that non-nutritive sweeteners, like monk fruit, have minimal influences on total calorie intake, blood glucose levels and insulin levels, making it a great natural sugar alternative for Type 2 diabetics (1). In a study where obese rats were induced with Type 2 diabetes, mogrosides exerted beneficial antidiabetic and hypoglycemic effects by reducing blood glucose levels and alleviating insulin resistance (6). Not only do mogroside have antidiabetic properties, they also have anti-hyperlipidemia, antitussive and antiinflammatory properties (6,7). 

All in all, research has highlighted many beneficial properties of mogrosides found in monk fruit. If you’re looking for a sugar alternative, monk fruit sweetener can be a good option for you. 

Here at True Nosh, we are committed to creating tasty products with no added sugar to benefit people living with diabetes. Instead, we find other ways to bring sweetness into your life. Hence, we are excited to introduce our monk fruit ginger tea, sweetened and steeped with dried monk fruit and fresh ginger! 

Check it out on our website and give it a try! 

Written by: Tammy Guan
Edited by: Ev Wong

References (MLA) 

  1. Tey, S L et al. “Effects of aspartame-, monk fruit-, stevia- and sucrose-sweetened beverages on postprandial glucose, insulin and energy intake.” International journal of obesity, vol. 41, no. 3, 2017, pp. 450-457, doi:10.1038/ijo.2016.225

  2. McDermott, Annette. Why Everyone’s Going Mad for Monk Fruit. Healthline, 12 Oct. 2017, https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/monk-fruit-health-benefits. Accessed 30 Jan. 2021.

  3. Brown, Mary Jane. Monk Fruit Sweetener: Good or Bad? Healthline, 12 Jun. 2019, https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/monk-fruit-sweetener#what-it-is. Accessed 30 Jan. 2021. 

  4. Ibrahim, Osama O. “How Sweet It Is: Chemicals Structure, Properties and Applications of High Intensity Sweeteners.” EC Nutrition, vol. 1,2 (2015): 57-66. www.ecronicon.com/ecnu/nutrition-ECNU-01-000011.php

  5. Liu, Hesheng et al. “Antiglycation and antioxidant activities of mogroside extract from Siraitia grosvenorii (Swingle) fruits.” Journal of Food Science Technology, vol. 55,5 (2018): 1880-1888. doi:10.1007/s13197-018-3105-2

  6. Zhang, Yulong et al. “Anti-hyperglycemic and anti-hyperlipidemic effects of a special fraction of Luohanguo extract on obese T2DM rats.” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, vol. 247 (2019): 1-21. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jep.2019.112273

  7. Gong, Xue et al. “The Fruits of Siraitia grosvenorii: A Review of a Chinese Food-Medicine.” Frontiers in pharmacology, vol. 10, no. 1627, 30 Jan. 2020, doi:10.3389/fphar.2019.01627

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