Do you love the Paleo lifestyle but still occasionally crave a sweet treat? Want to enhance your coffee without the health-damaging side effects of sugar?
Whether you are carb-conscious or sugar-sensitive, monk fruit extract is an increasingly popular alternative sweetener that may be right for you.
What is it? Monk fruit extract is a potent, no-calorie, Paleo-friendly sugar substitute made from the goodness of fruit. It can be used to add sweetness to a variety of dishes without the calories and health problems associated with table sugar. Using monk fruit extract in place of sugar can help reduce the glycemic load of what you eat, and be a healthy part of a Paleo diet plan.
Used for hundreds of years as a natural sweetener and traditional medicine,[i] monk fruit extract—derived from a small, subtropical Asian melon—is becoming increasingly popular sweetener in no-sugar-added foods.
Monk fruit extract has a mildly fruit aroma and dissolves fully in water.[ii] Some Paleo-lifestyle adherents prefer it over stevia as it typically does not have any aftertaste.
Monk fruit extract has been widely used in foods and as a sugar substitute in China for many years. It’s now becoming increasingly popular in the U.S. market and in Paleo foods.
Where does it come from? The extract is taken from the Chinese mountain-orchard melon also known as lo han guo. It grows in Southeast Asia and is rumored to have been cultivated by Buddhist monks in the region for hundreds of years… thus the name. A cousin to the cucumber and the bitter melon[iii], monk fruit is endemic to picturesque Guangxi province in southern China.[iv] You may see it less commonly referred to as Swingle fruit, Lo Han sweetener, or by its scientific name: Siraitia grosvenorii.
How potent is it? This natural sweetener is 100-250 times more intense than sugar.[v] Therefore, you only need to use a very small amount of monk fruit extra to get the same flavor as a much larger amount of table sugar. In fact, many people find that you only need one gram of monk fruit extract to create a level of sweetness equal to eight teaspoons of sugar![vi] A little experimentation will show you how little you need to sweeten your coffee, tea, protein shake, or favorite foods—it blends in easily!
Is it healthy? Certain types of monk fruit extract have been shown to have free-radical-fighting antioxidant activity[vii] and anti-cancer[viii] effects. Monk fruit has many other positive health effects: it’s been shown to be anti-tussive (cough suppressing), phlegm-relieving, immunomodulatory (able to regulate or modify certain immune functions), liver-protecting, glucose-lowering, and antimicrobial.[ix]
Research has shown that monk fruit extract is safe[x] and it’s approved for use in the United States.
Is it Paleo-friendly? Unlike sugar, monk fruit extract delivers a clean, sweet taste while being almost calorie-free! Consider this: Table sugar is technically called a “nutritive” sweetener which means it contains calories in the form of carbohydrates. Monk fruit (like stevia) is considered a “nonnutritive” sweetener, which means it contains virtually no calories or carbohydrates.[xi] That makes monk fruit extract perfect for Paleo-philes!
Is it pure? We are proud to sell the only pure lo han guo extract on the market! Many other monk fruit extracts (and stevia products, for that matter) are not 100% pure. They may contain added sweeteners, such as erythritol. Much worse than that, many monk fruit products are also blended with unhealthy fillers, such as dextrose (which is a corn-derived carbohydrate—not good!), sugar (yes, actual sugar!) or molasses.
We recommend you opt for a 100% pure monk fruit extract, such as Pure Monk, so you now you are getting the real deal without any “mystery” fillers.
Is it like stevia? Unlike monk fruit, stevia is derived from the leaves of a plant that looks a bit like a leafy shrub. But both monk fruit extract and stevia are nonnutritive sweeteners (virtually no calories) that are Paleo-approved. Both are excellent alternatives to health-ravaging table sugar and vitality-damaging chemical sweeteners such as aspartame. And both have health benefits beyond just being sweet without being caloric.
So here’s why we offer both stevia and pure monk fruit extract: People who are sensitive to the asteraceae/compositae family of plants (which includes ragweed, chrysanthemums, marigolds, daisies) may be sensitive or allergic to stevia.[xii] If you feel bloated, nauseous, or otherwise unwell after eating stevia, switch to monk fruit extract. In fact, we believe Pure Monk to be the most hypoallergenic sweetener on the market.
Where do I Buy Monk Fruit? (Click Here – Pure 1 Ingredient Monk Fruit)
Bottom line: Monk fruit extract’s super-low caloric value, health benefits and long history as a natural food ingredient distinguishes it from other natural sweeteners and makes it a viable sweetening alternative for Paleo-conscious consumers.
As usual, we recommend using moderation and avoiding extremes when consuming this or any other alternative sweetener… or for that matter, any type of food.
Written By: Heath Squier