What the Heck Is Monk Fruit?

If you have ever enjoyed a zero-calorie beverage that was naturally sweetened, you might have had monk fruit! A popular sugar replacement, monk fruit has become one of the top low-calorie sweeteners found in drinks, snacks, desserts, and more. This natural sweetener is a fruit extract that contains zero calories per serving but provides a treat which satisfies even the most ravenous sweet tooth. 

What is a monk fruit? 

Monk fruit is known as luo han guo or Swingle fruit, and is a small, round fruit that is native to the southern part of China. According to Food Insight, it has been used for centuries in Eastern medicine as a cold and digestive aid. The juice, or extract, is 150–200 times sweeter than sugar, which means a small amount is needed to achieve the same sweetness. The sweetener is created by removing the seeds and skin of the fruit and crushing it to collect the juice, which is then dried into a concentrated powder. 

Are monk fruit sweeteners safe? 

Yes, monk fruit sweeteners are safe for adults and children to consume. Monk fruit is safe to consume without contributing to diabetes, cavities, or high calorie intake. Additionally, pregnant and breastfeeding women can consume monk fruit without worry about its impact on their child. There has been no established acceptable daily intake since there has been no adverse effects of high levels of the sweetener being consumed. 

What’s the science behind monk fruit? 

According to Food Insight, the compounds which give monk fruit sweetness are called mogrosides. These consist of a backbone structure called a mogrol, which has glucose units or glycosides attached to it. The reason monk fruit is zero calories is because mogrosides are not absorbed in the upper gastrointestinal tract. This means that monk fruit does not contribute to an increase in blood sugar levels. 

Using monk fruit as a sugar replacement is a good way to lower calorie intake, reduce blood sugar spikes, and even curb cravings!