Moving away from the use of refined sugar can be difficult. However, natural sweeteners have proven to be very useful for this purpose, especially Stevia and Monk Fruit extracts.
What Is Monk Fruit And Why You Should Know It?
Monk fruit or Luo Han Guo (Siraitia grosvenorii), is a fruit that grows in southern China. Its particular name originates from the first reviews of its use from Buddhist monks in the thirteenth century who were the first in highlighting the properties of this fruit.
Monk fruit is round and small and measures between 4 cm and 5.5 cm. This fruit has an incredibly sweet taste, which the monks used to sweeten teas and other drinks. In addition, it also has healing properties, such as relieving colds and digestive discomforts.
Monk fruit benefits
Monk fruit extracts can be up to 250 times sweeter than regular cane sugar. The monk fruit sweetener does not have calories or fat, making it an excellent option for people with diabetes or under a weight loss regimen.
Monk fruit extract and its derivatives are products authorized by the FDA for consumption. European regulations have also authorized the distribution and consumption, confirming its safety. (1)
1. Helps Reduce Blood Sugar Levels
Monk fruit favors the reduction of blood sugar levels by regulating insulin release, making it a low glycemic food. (2)
2. Reduces the Risk of Obesity
By not having calories, it helps to avoid weight gain. Recent studies have shown that compounds called mogrols in monk fruit can inhibit pre-fat cells' transformation, which means that it reduces the ability to add fat to the body. (3)
3. Reduces Damage Caused By Free Radicals
Monk Fruit has antioxidant properties that fight the damage of free radicals. Mogrosides, which are chemical compounds present in some plants like pumpkins or the monk fruit, reduce the damage caused by oxidative stress. (4)
Other Advantages You Should Consider?
• It is a safe product for pregnant or lactating women, children, and the elderly.
• It has several presentations: Liquid, granulated, and powder
• They are safe for people with diabetes
Disadvantages of Monk Fruit
1. Expensive and Difficult to Grow
The monk fruit grows in subtropical environments in countries such as China and Thailand. Its proportion of cultivation is much lower than that of cane, making it an expensive product to import.
2. They are not so common to find
Monk fruit sweeteners are not as popular as other natural sweeteners, so they are not as easy to find in stores and supermarkets.
3. Particular flavor
These sweeteners have slight fruity notes and a bitter aftertaste that may not be to everyone's liking.
Other Disadvantages of Monk Fruit Sweeteners to Consider
• Some monk fruit sweeteners may include dextrose, which alters the nutritional label of the product, making it less natural.
• It is not highly recommended in patients with pancreas problems since it stimulates insulin production, which can overload the pancreas' functionality.
• It has not been as well studied as other sweeteners.
What Is Stevia And Why Is It So Popular?
Stevia rebaudiana, better known as Stevia, is a native bush in South America, specifically Brazil and Paraguay. It is an extremely sweet plant, 300 times sweeter than table sugar, and up to 30 times sweeter than beet sugar. The sweetness of Stevia comes from compounds called steviosides.
Stevia and the FDA
The usefulness of Stevia as a natural sweetener dates back many years, even centuries. According to the FDA, its use in its most natural form (whole dried or raw leaves) is not considered safe. Stevia's availability is limited to products derived from rebaudioside A, D, M (Reb-A, D, M), which are glycosides present in Stevia. These result in refined Stevia products containing zero calories.
1. Improves Blood Sugar Levels
Stevia helps lower blood sugar levels by improving glucose tolerance and increasing insulin levels and sensitivity, making it an excellent choice for people with diabetes. (5)
2. Lowers Cholesterol Levels
Stevia is capable of acting on lipid metabolism, reducing bad cholesterol (LDH) and triglycerides while increasing levels of good cholesterol (HDL). (6)
3. Reduces Oxidative Stress
Stevia extracts contain polyphenols, which are capable of neutralizing cell damage produced by free radicals. (7)
Other Advantages of Stevia You Should Know
• Promotes weight loss
• It is available in various presentations: Liquid, granulated, and powder.
• It is easy to find
Disadvantages of Stevia
1. It is expensive compared to other sweeteners and table sugar.
2. Its taste can be unpleasant and change the taste of desserts and drinks a bit.
3. May cause an upset stomach during the first few days of use.
Other Disadvantages of Stevia You Should Consider:
• It can cause allergies, especially in people previously allergic to daisies, ragweed, and sunflowers, since they belong to the same herbaceous family.
• The sweeteners available in the US are refined.
• Sweeteners are usually mixed with other sweeteners to improve their taste, which may increase the overall caloric intake.
What is the best sweetener and how to choose the best one for you?
To choose the best option, you must ask yourself these questions.
1. What will you use it for daily use (coffee, juice, teas) or specific use (pastries)
2. You suffer from diabetes or insulin resistance)
3. Are you looking for a 100% pure sweetener?
4. Can you afford it?
5. Are you looking for a sweetener with a weak or strong flavor?
Monk fruit and Stevia vary in both taste and uses, but both can substitute for table sugar in sweet and savory preparations. It is essential to consider that although they are more expensive than table sugar, a minimal amount is needed to achieve the right sweetness. They are an excellent alternative to consider to reduce the consumption of refined sugar. If you are looking to reduce sugar in your next creation, reach out to our team today!