When it comes to the matters of healthy eating, you are probably used to hearing contradictory statements. In the past, we’ve been told that fats are bad, whereas now we hear that certain types of fats might be good, it’s the fault of carbs. However, one thing upon which most experts agree is that sugar, especially in large amounts is not healthy.
That’s why in recent years we have witnessed the growing popularity of sweeteners, which are used instead of sugar, potentially saving consumers from a whole lot of dangerous diseases, such as diabetes, obesity, or heart diseases; let’s also not forget the effects of sugar on the brain. Unfortunately, as it turns out, not all sweeteners are actually healthy either. What about the monk fruit sweetener? Let’s find out!
What Is Monk Fruit Sweetener?
Monk fruit is a green melon that can be found in southern China. Most likely its name stems from the fact that in the early days, it’s been cultivated primarily by monks. What’s so unusual about it?
Well, two facts. It contains zero calories, and at the same time, it is much sweeter than sugar. By how much? About 100-250 times more. As a result, it seems to be a perfect sweetener.
The juice from the fruit is collected, and afterward, dried into a powder, making it easy to add into all types of products.
If you’ve ever tasted sugar, you would probably agree that it’s pretty sweet. Now imagine the same, but 200 times more intense. Gets intimidating pretty quickly, doesn’t it? Even when small amounts of a monk fruit sweetener are added to the products, the effect might be overly intense. That’s why it is usually mixed with other substances to make its sweetness more subdued.
What Are the Health Properties of Monk Fruit Sweetener?
If you are wondering whether the consumption of monk fruit isn’t potentially harmful to humans, you should know that the FDA approved monk fruit sweetener in 2010. Generally, the U.S. Food and Administration agency doesn’t approve products for consumption until thorough research has proven that they are perfectly safe.
Additionally, we must mention that monk fruit, like all fruits, contains fructose and glucose. However, the monk fruit sweetener doesn’t contain either of them; instead, it’s mogroside, another compound that is responsible for its intense sweetness. Fructose and glucose each have 4 calories per gram, whereas mogroside doesn’t have any calories at all. Because of that, its use has been linked to moderate weight loss.
If you switch to using monk fruit sweetener instead of sugar, you shouldn’t expect significant results, but it doesn’t mean that there won’t be any differences.
Mogroside is an antioxidant, meaning that it can protect against free radicals. Admittedly, all of this is speculative, as there are no studies about the antioxidant properties of monk fruits when consumed by humans, but the early studies seem to indicate that it might be indeed true.
That’s not all – monk fruit has been found to have anticarcinogenic properties, which means that it can slow down the growth of cancerous cells. Admittedly, the study has discovered these effects when monk fruit was consumed by mice – currently, there are no human studies. While this means that we need to conduct further research on this subject, the findings seem promising.
Another health property of monk fruit sweetener stems from the fact that it has zero calories. As a result, it won’t raise the blood sugar levels, making it completely safe for those with diabetes. However, as we have previously mentioned, monk fruit sweeteners are often mixed with other substances, which could lead to their consumption having other effects as anticipated.
At the same time, in the mentioned studies, researchers have used the amounts of monk fruit sweetener that far exceed the amount that you are likely to find in regular products. It means that if you would like to try monk fruit sweetener due to its potentially healthy effects on the human body, you might be disappointed.
Still, let’s not forget why monk fruit sweetener is used in the first place. Most of the products that we consume are full of sugar, which means that switching to an alternative substance that doesn’t have any side effects is definitely worth it.
Increasingly more products contain information on the packaging, claiming that there are no added sugars. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a substance that was used instead of sugars is much healthier.
Thankfully, we can safely say that when it comes to monk fruit sweetener, the side effects are virtually non-existing. It doesn’t contain any calories, while at the same time, its consumption doesn’t lead to the raised blood sugar levels. The studies indicate that it could even slow down the growth of cancerous cells.