As more and more people avoid sugar, there is increasing popularity of alternative sweetener, one such sweetener is monk fruit which is also known as monk fruit extract. This particular sweetener has existed for decades but only recently grew in its popularity as it became more available and needed. Monk fruit sweetener has no calories and may have antioxidant abilities. This sweetener is said to be sweeter than regular sugar by 100-250 times. in case you do not know much about monk fruit, it is a small fruit cultivated in the Southeastern part of Asia.
For centuries, Chinese traditional medicine made use of this fruit for medicinal purposes but the FDA only approved that it uses as an alternative sweetener in the year 2010. the way this sweetener is gotten is by removing its seed and skinning it before crushing it and collecting its juice. The juice is allowed to dry and concentrated powder results from it. Glucose and fructose are two natural sugars that may be gotten from monk fruit. However, these natural sugar are not the reason for its sweetness, unlike other fruits. Its intense sweetness is gotten from a unique antioxidant known as mogrosides.
Monk Fruit Sweetener Effect
Mogrosides extracts are separated from the juice during processing. Thus the sweetener has no glucose or fructose. Because this mogroside extract may be over a hundred times sweeter than regular sugar, may manufacturers now mix this sweetener with several other naturally derived products like erythritol or inulin which will decrease the intensity of its sweetness.
Drinks and food now use this sweetener as an ingredient for sweetening, enhancing its flavor and to mix with other sweeter blends.
Most of the health benefit that has been associated with this sweetener is mostly due to its mogroside content. Let’s have a look at some of them:
One of the claims of this sweetener is that it helps in weight loss. Due to its zero calories, a lot of people have suggested that it lowers the calorie intake. However, since it is still a newbie in the market there are currently no studies to verify this claim.
But the studies in another sweetener with low calories indicates that they may actually cause modest bodyweight reduction. Theses studies reported that replacing calories filled sweeteners with these low versions can help reduce your weight modestly.
Mogroside extract possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which together inhibit some specific harmful radical molecules to prevent DNA damage. However, there are no human studies confirming these claims.
Test tube and animal research suggest this fruit extract inhibits the growth of cancer cells. The mechanisms are still unclear though. One study discovered that mogrosides suppresses the growth of the leukemia cells. Another noted its powerful inhibitory acts on mice skin tumors.
Some of the monk fruit sweeteners have no carbs together with its zero-calorie profile and thus are unable to raise the level of blood sugar. This makes it a good sugar alternative for diabetic people.
Diabetic mice were studied and the results suggest that the extract of monk fruit may even lower the level of blood sugar. The selected mice given this extract had a lower sugar level and oxidative stress and also an improved amount of good (HDL) cholesterol.
The ability of mogroside to trigger insulin cells to produce insulin may explain these benefits. This sweetener is usually mixed with some other sweeteners so do examine labels carefully before purchase.
Need For More Research
Although mogroside contains many health benefits there is still a need for more research. Studies have been using a large concentrated amount of monk fruit extract for their research. You may not encounter such amount on your so we need to know what dosage is safe at the same time producing these health benefits in us.
Is This Sweetener Safe?
Sweetener gotten from monk fruit was only just recognized by the FDA in 2010 as being safe for human consumption. Unlike other sweeteners with low calories, there are not enough studies on monk fruit to properly examine its effects.
However, that does mean it is unsafe or harmful. For centuries this fruit has been used as a source of food and no side effects have been reported from using this sweetener.
What About The Raw Fruit?
Now don’t just go hunting after the fresh monk fruit as it is very hard to find it not impossible unless of course if it is grown in your region. Even then this fruit is rarely consumed fresh because it ferments and quickly grows rancid after being harvested.
Monk fruit can be dried and used in the preparation of herbal remedies and tea but this is not so easily found.
You may find the imported dried fruit in Asian markets. Growing, harvesting and drying monk fruits can be quite challenging, this is why it’s sweeteners cost more than other similar sweeteners. And which is also why only a few of these sweeteners may be found on the shelves of your local grocery stores.
The aftertaste of monk fruit displeases some people while some others are of the opinion that it is less bitter and more pleasant than others especially the artificial ones like aspartame and saccharin.
Some people get allergic reactions when eating monk fresh fruit. This allergy includes rash, hives, difficulty in breathing, weak or rapid pulse, dizziness, wheezing, swollen tongue, vomiting, or stomach pain.
If you are already allergic to fruit in the gourd family such as melons, pumpkins, cucumbers, and squash then there is a possibility that you would be allergic to monk fruit too as it is also a gourd family member, the Cucurbitaceae family.
From the name, we know that monk fruit sweetener is gotten from its monk fruit where the juice is extracted. Although there is a need for more research this sweetener is relatively healthy and safe enough to be sued as a sugar alternative. It is derived naturally free from calories and may be beneficial to health.