Monk Fruit: The Ultimate Natural Sweetener
If you've shopped at the grocery store or bought food online lately, you've probably come across phrases like "Natural Sweetener" or "Sugar Substitute." In recent years, there's been a huge shift in the way we think about the potentially damaging effects that sugar intake can have on our longterm health.
A "not-so-sweet" reality
In fact, a 2020 study from Partnership For A Healthier America found that limiting sugar intake was the #1 way that consumers said they were changing their diet. Over 2/3 of all consumers claimed that they were actively reducing their sugar consumption.
Given this trending attack on sugar, it's no wonder that more and more sugar alternatives are starting to become more commonplace. You may have heard of substitutes like stevia and erythritol, but one of the most popular sugar substitutes today is monk fruit.
What is monk fruit?
Monk fruit is a small, circular-shaped fruit found in parts of Southern China. While monk fruit may be new to consumers in the U.S, it's actually been grown, harvested and utilized for a number of purposes for over 8 centuries. In fact, Buddhist monks are thought to have first used the fruit for medicinal purposes back in the 13th century (hence the name monk fruit).
The most popular form of monk fruit is actually monk fruit extract. On its own, monk fruit is naturally 150-200 times sweeter than regular sugar. To curb its overwhelming sweetness, the seeds and skin of the fruit are removed, crushed and turned into a powder that forms an extract. This extract can then be used on its own or added to foods or beverages.
Why is monk fruit better than other sugars?
You may be thinking "if monk fruit is 150x sweeter than regular sugar, how is it any better for me?" Monk fruits sweetness doesn't actually come from the natural sugars found inside the fruit. In fact, the inner fruit that contains the natural sugars are completely removed during the extract process.
The sweetness is instead a byproduct of antioxidants found in the seeds and skin called mogrosides. Unlike natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables, mogrosides are made up of a special type of glucose (glycoside) that does not get absorbed in our gastrointestinal tract. When the mogrosides make it to the colon, our bodies turn the glycosides into energy. Therefore, monk fruit extract contributes no added carbs or calories to our diet.
How to use monk fruit
Because monk fruit is only grown in parts of Southeast Asia, it's extremely hard to come by the full fruit in the U.S. If you really want to find a whole monk fruit, your best chance would be to look for it at a local Asian market.
Granulated monk fruit and monk fruit extract however, can easily be found at your grocery store. You can use the extract to sweeten up your coffee or tea, or add granulated monk fruit to baked treats as a sugar substitute!
At BuzzFit, we use monk fruit to naturally sweeten our protein coffee. This allows us to keep BuzzFit low calorie, low carb and made with zero added sugars. Next time you're thinking of buying a sugary coffeeshop latte, opt for our Iced Vanilla Latte instead for a guilt-free sweet treat!