Monk fruit, also known as lo han guo, is a small, sub-tropical melon grown in Southeast Asia that has been used for centuries as a sweetener.
It is often referred to as the longevity fruit or the Buddha fruit. Monk fruit is part of the gourd family, along with pumpkins, squash, cucumber, melons and zucchini, and the actual fruit grows on vines. This melon has been used for centuries in Eastern medicine as a digestive aid and as a cold remedy, as well as a natural sweetener. (1 , 2)
Nutritional Value of Monk Fruit
- Serving size: 1 teaspoon
- Calories: 0
- Total Fat: 0
- Carbs: 0
- Protein: 0
4 Health Benefits of Monk Fruit
1. Blood Sugar Balance
Monk fruit, while free of calories, is full of sweetness! The juice of the fruit contains zero calories and is around 150-200 times sweeter than cane sugar. Monk fruit helps support healthy blood glucose levels and prevents extreme high and low levels (which can lead to cravings, mood swings, irritability and fatigue). Studies have found that specific antioxidants in monk fruit can actually improve insulin secretion in the body, helping to support the pancreatic cells. (3, 4, 5)
2. Weight Management
If you’re trying to manage your weight, monk fruit is a great alternative to sugar-laden sweets. Research shows that using a zero-calorie sweetener such as monk fruit (in place of regular sweeteners) can lower your daily caloric intake, helping you fight calories as well as cravings. (6)
3. Antioxidant Support
The antioxidants found in monk fruit, known as mogrosides, have potent free radical scavenging capabilities, helping to limit DNA oxidative damage to the cells. This natural non-caloric sweetener contains glycosides that have antioxidative and anticarcinogenic properties.
Monk fruit has been used for centuries in China as not only a sweetening agent, but also to treat sore throats, coughs and remove phlegm.
A bioactive compound found in monk fruit, known as siraitiflavandiol, has been found to inhibit the growth of the oral bacteria species Streptococcus mutans, Porphyromonas gingivalis, and yeast Candida albicans. (7, 8, 9)
Where to Buy Monk Fruit
Thanks to the rise of alternative sweeteners, many health food stores carry monk fruit. You can also find dried monk fruit at most Chinese grocery stores, which can be used in teas after simmering in boiling water.
Monk fruit tastes almost exactly like table sugar (and is also 150-200 times sweeter than sugar, so a little goes a long way). However, unlike sugar, monk fruit doesn’t have any of the detrimental effects on your blood glucose levels. This fruit bakes just like sugar, making it a healthy option and a sweet swap.
Is Monk Fruit Paleo?
Using monk fruit as an alternative sweetener on the Paleo diet is OK… in moderation. You can use it to add sweetness to sauces, Paleo-friendly desserts and baked goods, as well as hot teas and coffee.
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