Monk Fruit: What Is It And What Are Its Benefits

monk fruit growing on a vine

Monk fruit has burst onto the scene in the last 12 months as the next best thing in the natural sweetening industry. 

What Is Monk Fruit?

If you, like millions of others, have never heard of monk fruit or only heard of it in passing, you are probably wondering what it is. This fruit originated in China and records date it back to the early 13th century. Commonly called Luo Han Guo, its name comes from the Chinese Buddhist monks that cultivated this fruit and used it for a variety of illnesses, believing that it had healing properties.

This fruit is approximately 2” to 2.75” in diameter, with a smooth rind that is yellowish to brown in colour. The fruit inside is green with seeds that are almost spherical and elongated. When dried, the pulp or meat turns light brown and forms a brittle shell.

It’s 300 times sweeter than sugar, it contains a type of sugar molecule called mogrosides which are frequently used in Chinese medicine. Mogrosides are found only in certain plants such as the monk fruit. 

So How Is It Used As A Sweetener?

For centuries, monk fruit has been used as a healing fruit. But, it has also been used as a natural way to sweeten things such as tea. Much like how Redbull was a traditional drink in which a businessman took multinational, Monk fruit has recently been introduced to the rest of the world.

An organic sweetener, many companies now use this in place of other sweeteners as it needs little processing other than drying and grinding to make the fine powder that we see today. Packed under different names, by reading the label you can find which products use this instead of aspartame or corn syrup. It can be used in everything that you would use regular sugar for, so baking, cooking and for beverages can all be a little more healthier.

Is Monk Fruit Good For Me?

So you are probably wondering if it is good for you. Sounds almost too to be good to be true. We heard about how good aspartame was for us and then it wasn’t. Saccharine was supposed to cause cancer and well sugar, it causes high blood sugars and a whole host of other problems. With all of this happening to other forms of sweeteners, what makes this so much better you may be wondering.

Well, to start with, most of the other “natural” sweeteners are actually processed using chemicals and other unhealthy things which can transfer over to us when we consume them. With monk fruit extracts, there is little processing required. Having been thoroughly investigated by the FDA, it is now listed as a generally recognized as safe or GRAS status. This means that in current research, it has been shown to be safe for the use as a sweetener and flavor enhancer.

Plus there are some other added health benefits that most of us can use. In China, the monk fruit is also called the longevity fruit. Used for centuries to help balance the body, many people in that region often live to ripe old ages about 100.

But, research is relatively new and still developing. However, there has been some recent research into the health properties has shown some amazing results. There is scientific based evidence that monk fruit and its mogrosides contain powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants help to reduce the affects of free radicals that occur naturally during metabolism and other chemical processes in our bodies.

But the biggest thing that has been discovered and is being researched widely is its affects for diabetics. Preliminary research is showing that it actually can help the pancreas secrete insulin. This is amazing news as that is the issue that causes diabetes is the pancreases inability to produce insulin or the body becoming insulin resistant. Couple with the fact that monk fruit has a low Glycemic index, diabetics may have a sweetener that they can use that will not raise the blood sugar, but in fact help to lower and control it.

Other research has shown that monk fruit may have anti-cancer properties. Japanese scientists have done research that shows that monk fruit helps reduce skin cancer in mice. While there is more research that needs to be done in this area, it is promising start.

The antihistamine affects of monk fruit and its extract counter the effects of allergies. While the exact nature is not known, it is thought to calm mast cells which release the chemicals that are responsible for allergic and asthmatic responses. If this is completely true, we may have a more natural way to help reduce allergy and asthma.

Monk fruit also helps support he immune system. This means that we can be healthier as our immune system is stronger, making it better capable of fighting the millions of disease causing agents, giving us a more healthy option than antibiotics.

We all know that eating our fruits and vegetables is important. Certain extracts from fruit such as monk fruit often can carry the same health benefits that the fruit itself has. Monk fruit has shown some amazing health benefits. And although the research is still young, it seems to be the one natural sweetener that diabetics can use with little fear of high blood sugar. To find monk fruit extracts and sweeteners, read the labels of foods. If we have a more natural sweetener that has positive health effects, we may begin to fight many of the health issues that we face today.

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