top of page

Transform Your Diet: How to Use Monk Fruit for Healthier Sweetening

Updated: May 10



If you have a sweet tooth and struggle to resist tempting treats or sugary pick-me-ups, you're not alone. Sugar addiction is real, and it often lurks in unsuspecting foods. Did you know that the average American consumes a staggering 57 pounds of added sugar annually, excluding the natural sugars found in fruits? This excessive sugar intake can lead to weight gain and a range of health issues. Thankfully, there are natural alternatives like sweeteners, which offer a similar taste but are metabolized differently by the body. One such substitute gaining popularity is monk fruit sweetener.


Switching to monk fruit sweetener could be a sweet deal for your health. It fits perfectly into various dietary plans, including keto and those aiming for weight loss, by helping maintain optimal blood sugar levels. Just one teaspoon packs no calories and less than a gram of carbs, making it a great pick if you're watching your sugar intake. On the flip side, regular white sugar has 16 calories and 4 grams of carbs per teaspoon, with a moderate glycemic index of 65, meaning it can bump up your blood sugar levels more.


Most of us tend to go overboard with sugar, often without realizing it due to the prevalence in processed foods, sugary beverages and desserts. While the American Heart Association suggests women stick to 6 teaspoons (25 grams) and men to 9 teaspoons (36 grams) of added sugar daily, the average person in the U.S. might be having around 17 teaspoons (71.14 grams). That's a lot more than recommended and can be a real issue since all that extra sugar can add up, leading to higher blood sugar levels and other health concerns.


Choosing monk fruit sweetener is my top tip for a healthier lifestyle — it's a simple change with big benefits. It's not just a sweet switch; it's a smart move for keeping those blood sugar levels and overall metabolic health in check.

What is Monk Fruit Sweetener?
monk fruit on the vine

Monk fruit sweetener, derived from the monk fruit also called luo han guo, (a small brown fruit that grows in China) are celebrated for their intense sweetness, being up to 200 times sweeter than regular sugar.

In traditional Chinese health practices, it's thought to smooth out your lungs, calm down throat irritation, help your voice bounce back, keep your guts hydrated, and maintain regular bowel movements. Although since monk fruit is still a relatively new sweetener in the U.S., - apparently traditional medicine is not recognized by pharmaceutical medicine - research in the West on the health benefits of monk fruit on humans are limited. Keep that in mind and you decide.


This small melon-like fruit is not only a powerhouse of sweetness but also a beacon of health, thanks to its unique components called mogrosides. Some research suggests that monk fruit may offer antioxidant, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and anti-diabetic properties.



Monk fruit sweetener is made by peeling and seeding the fruit. Squishing it up to get to extract the sweet stuff inside. Then, straining out the juice so you're left with just the sweet bits, known as mogrosides. Finally, mix this extract with a sugar alcohol like, erythritol, and you get a sweetener that looks and tastes a lot like the sugar we're all used to.

Monk fruit sweeteners are available in various forms such as liquid drops, powdered, or granulated, making them versatile for beverages, baking and making vinaigrettes. I've tried liquid drops & powder versions but find them insanely sweet, I recommend a granular blend with erythritol or allulose.


Recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as generally safe (GRAS), these sweeteners provide a healthful alternative to traditional sugar, containing zero calories and not contributing to blood sugar levels due to their non-absorptive properties in the upper gastrointestinal tract.

Monk fruit sweetener might pinch your wallet more than others like stevia, because it's not as common and it's more complex to make. But I see it as an investment in my well-being—staying healthy now could save me from hefty medical bills down the line. It's all about choosing what's best for you in the long run.



Health Benefits

This natural, zero-calorie, zero-carb option, offers a sweetening power without the guilt, and especially, the long term detrimental effects of sugar and offers a range of health benefits that make it an attractive alternative to traditional sugars. Here are some of the key advantages:

  1. Antioxidant and Anti-inflammatory Properties: Monk fruit is rich in mogrosides, which are known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. This makes monk fruit sweetener a great choice for reducing inflammation and combating oxidative stress in the body.

  2. Blood Sugar Management: Unlike traditional sweeteners, monk fruit does not impact blood sugar and insulin levels, making it an excellent option for individuals with diabetes or those monitoring their blood sugar.

  3. Promotes Weight Loss: Since monk fruit sweetener contains no calories, carbohydrates, or fats, it can help in managing weight. Replacing sugar with monk fruit might lead to modest reductions in body weight as long as you keep overall consumption in check.

  4. Dental Health: Unlike sugary alternatives, monk fruit sweetener does not contribute to tooth decay, making it a tooth-friendly option.

  5. Potential Cancer-Fighting Properties: Preliminary studies suggest that the mogrosides in monk fruit may have anticancer properties, inhibiting the growth of cancer cells. However, more research is needed to fully understand this benefit.

  6. Prebiotic Effects: There is emerging research suggesting that monk fruit mogrosides might act as prebiotics, fostering the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut. This can enhance digestive health and promote the production of short-chain fatty acids.


These health benefits highlight why monk fruit sweetener is not just a sugar substitute but a healthful addition to a balanced diet.


Comparison with Other Sweeteners

Scroll across to view the complete table of information ----->

Sweetener

Sweetness & Taste

Cost & Availability

Health Impact

Culinary Flexibility

Potential Allergy Concerns

Other Noteworthy Info

Stevia

Up to 300x sweeter than sugar; some find it has a bitter aftertaste.

Widely available; moderate cost.

No effect on blood glucose; suitable for diabetics.

Good for beverages, not for all baking due to lack of volume.

Rare allergic reactions.

Derived from a plant; non-caloric.

Monk Fruit

100-200x sweeter than sugar; well-tolerated taste.

Less available; often more expensive.

No impact on blood sugar; contains antioxidants.

Good, especially in blends for baking and beverages.

Very rare allergic reactions.

Often mixed with other sweeteners to balance sweetness.

Erythritol

70% as sweet as sugar; cool taste.

Widely available; moderate cost.

Low impact on blood glucose; digestive upset in some.

Excellent for baking and beverages.

Rare allergic reactions.

A sugar alcohol with low caloric content.

Xylitol

Similar sweetness to sugar; fresh taste.

Widely available; moderate to high cost.

Low GI but can raise blood glucose slightly; toxic to dogs.

Good for baking and beverages; excessive amounts can cause digestive issues.

Can cause allergies or sensitivities.



When discussing sweeteners, it's important to consider natural options like honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, and agave. These are often thought of as healthier because they're natural, but they still contain fructose, which can affect your body and blood sugar levels. Agave, in particular, is high in fructose, which can be hard on your liver and may not be the healthiest choice for maintaining steady blood sugar. Although they are far better than artificial sweeteners like


  • Aspartame: NutraSweet®, Equal®, Sugar Twin®

  • Acesulfame Potassium (Ace-K): Sweet One®, Sunett®

  • Saccharin: Sweet and Low®, Sweet Twin®, Necta Sweet®, Sweet'N Low®

  • Sucralose: Splenda®

and did you know that there are over 61 names for sugar hidden in processed foods! (I've seen claims of over 200 as well!)

I prefer monk fruit with erythritol or allulose as I'm not fond of the aftertaste with stevia and its much more difficult to control the sweetness. My next go-to is xylitol. Be cautious using xylitol if you have dogs, as like coffee, grapes and chocolate, it can be dangerous to their health.


How to Use Monk Fruit Sweetener in Your Diet


Monk fruit sweetener, available in various forms to mimic traditional sugar, can easily be incorporated into your daily meals and beverages for a versatile dietary addition.


White monk fruit mimics the taste and texture of regular cane sugar and is best suited for cookies, brownies, sauces, dressings, smoothies or marinades. 

Brown monk fruit contains natural flavors and glycerin to share a similar taste and packable texture to brown sugar. It can be used for cinnamon rolls, glazes, marinades or any other food that calls for a caramel or toffee flavor. 

Powdered monk fruit is similar to powdered sugar in that it dissolves well in frostings or when sprinkled on top of something. It can be used as an alternative to glaze doughnuts or add to cakes, whipped cream and ice cream. 

Baking monk fruit has tapioca fiber, chicory root inulin and cellulose gum to help baked goods brown and spread easier. It works well in cakes, pies, doughs, muffins and cookies. 


Cooking and Baking Tips

When using monk fruit sweetener in recipes, keep these tips in mind to ensure the best results:


  • Measurement Guidance: Due to its high sweetness intensity (150-200 times sweeter than sugar), use monk fruit sweetener sparingly. It's advisable to start with less and adjust according to taste.

  • Mixing with Other Ingredients: For baking, it's often beneficial to mix monk fruit sweetener with other ingredients like erythritol or allulose to balance sweetness and improve texture. Ensure to read the labels for any additional components.

  • Dissolving Techniques: When using Lakanto Classic Monkfruit Sweetener, dissolve it with the liquid ingredients first to ensure it blends well with the dry ingredients in your recipes.

  • Adjusting Sweetness: If you find the 1:1 sugar replacement too sweet, consider reducing the monk fruit sweetener by up to 25% to suit your taste preferences.

Monk fruit sweetener is not just a healthier alternative to sugar but also a versatile ingredient that can enhance your meals without the guilt, and again, without the long term health problems that sugar can cause.


Replacing regular sugar with monk fruit sweetener is fine, but remember, moderation is key, as it's not intended for high consumption. If you're reaching for sweetened foods too often, it might be time to consider if there's an underlying food addiction. Addressing the root of excessive cravings can be crucial for overall health.

Potential Side Effects and Considerations

Nothing is perfect, so while monk fruit sweetener is recognized by the FDA as safe and has been used for centuries without reported side effects, it's important to consider a few potential considerations and side effects:


  1. Ingredient Sensitivities: Although monk fruit itself is safe, some commercial products contain other ingredients like erythritol, which might not agree with everyone. Erythritol, for instance, can cause digestive issues in some individuals.

  2. Processing Concerns: The process to create a "no-calorie" version of monk fruit sweetener may strip away some of the fruit’s natural benefits. This extensive processing might affect the natural integrity of the fruit.

  3. Allergic Reactions: Allergies to monk fruit are rare but possible, especially for individuals with sensitivities to other gourds such as pumpkins, squash, cucumbers, and melons.

  4. Taste Preference: Some people might find the aftertaste of monk fruit sweeteners unpleasant, which can vary from person to person.

  5. Canning Caution: Monk fruit sweeteners are not recommended for canning. The lack of research on how monk fruit affects the pH of canned foods makes it unsuitable for this preservation method.

  6. Limited Human Studies: There are minimal human studies specifically focusing on monk fruit, which means some effects might yet be undiscovered.


Understanding these points can help ensure that you use monk fruit sweetener wisely and are aware of any potential issues that could arise. On the other hand, the disastrous effects of sugar on metabolic and long-term health make me prefer consuming monk fruit in small quantities instead. (that's for an upcoming blog)


Read The Label Before You Purchase

As mentioned, Monk Fruit on its own is insanely sweet and can be tricky to adjust the taste so its not overpowering. Monk Fruit combined with Erythritol or Allulose is my preferred choice, although some manufacturers may combine monk fruit with maltodextrin or dextrose - read on to learn why to avoid the two latter ingredients.

Erythritol is a sugar alcohol that's 70% as sweet as sugar with almost no calories, and it doesn't spike blood sugar levels, making it a diabetic-friendly option. It's widely used in low-calorie and sugar-free products but can cause digestive issues in large amounts. Allulose, a rare sugar, offers a similar sweetness to sugar but has minimal calories and doesn't significantly impact blood sugar, making it great for baking due to its ability to brown and caramelize. Both erythritol and allulose are recognized as safe by health authorities and are useful for those looking to reduce sugar intake without sacrificing taste.

Maltodextrin: This is a polysaccharide that is used as a food additive. It's made from starch by partial hydrolysis and is usually found as a white, spray-dried powder. Maltodextrin is easily digestible, being absorbed as rapidly as glucose, and might be either moderately sweet or almost flavorless. It's commonly used as a thickener or filler to increase the volume of processed foods. It's also a common ingredient in sports drinks and snacks because it's a quick source of energy. Although it comes from plants, it's highly processed.

Dextrose: This is the name of a simple sugar that is made from corn and is chemically identical to glucose, or blood sugar. Dextrose is often used in baking products as a sweetener, and it's also a common component in processed foods and corn syrup. It's absorbed directly into the bloodstream during digestion, which can give a quick boost of energy. Dextrose can be beneficial for athletes or those needing a quick energy source, but it can also spike blood sugar levels, so it should be consumed in moderation.


FAQs

Q: Are there any negative effects associated with monk fruit sweetener? A: No negative effects have been reported from the use of monk fruit sweeteners. They are considered safe for everyone, including pregnant women and children, as affirmed by the Food and Drug Administration's GRAS (generally recognized as safe) designation.

Q: What is the best way to use monk fruit sweetener? A: Monk fruit sweetener can be used in the same way as sugar. It is suitable for sweetening beverages, sauces, dressings, smoothies, cereals, desserts, and baked goods. It is also compatible with various diets, including ketogenic, vegan, candida, paleo, low carb, low sugar, and non-GMO diets.

Q: How much monk fruit sweetener is equivalent to sugar? A: As a general guideline, 1 teaspoon of monk fruit sweetener can replace about 1 cup of sugar, that is for the concentrated liquid or powder form. I prefer the granulated type and most brands offer a 1:1 monk fruit sweetener that can replace sugar in equal volumes, which is particularly convenient for baking and cooking. Always check the instructions provided by the manufacturer for the best results. I always go less than suggested and adjust to my liking.

Q: Is there a limit to how much monk fruit sweetener one should consume daily? A: According to FSANZ's approval for monk fruit extracts as a sweetener, there is a history of safe consumption in several countries, and human studies have shown no adverse effects when consuming up to 60 milligrams (mg) of monk fruit extract per kilogram (kg) of body weight per day.



References and a lot more information!



Comments


EAT.png

Want more Tips & Exclusive Content? - Subscribe Now!

Thanks for submitting!

single turtle_edited.png
single turtle_edited.png
single turtle_edited.png
  • X
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • YouTube NoBadBeachDays™
  • Pinterest

Transform
Your Life:
Make Small Changes, See Lasting Results

bottom of page