Monk Fruit: An Ancient Sugar Alternative With Centuries Old Benefits

Monk Fruit: An Ancient Sugar Alternative With Centuries Old Benefits


As people are becoming more and more conscious about their sugar and carb consumption, many are looking for alternative sweeteners that are healthier than regular table sugar.

Sugar alcohol has long been a popular choice, it generally contains fewer calories and does less harm to your body. But move over sugar alcohols, monk fruit extract is now a rising star in the sweetener market with even more health benefits! Read on to find out more about why we love monk fruit and the difference between the two sugar substitutes! 

The molecular structure of sugar alcohol is similar to that of sugar, so it has that sweet taste just like regular sugar. Sugar alcohols can be found in fruits and vegetables, but generally, they are processed differently from other sugars, such as glucose. Even though they taste just like sugar, they have much lower calories (about half to one-third fewer), so it is particularly good for people with high blood sugar and those who are on low sugar diets like Whole30 and Ketogenic. They are more resistant to digestion than sugar, so they have more dietary fiber that keeps the carbohydrates intake lower. Research has also proven that some sugar alcohols can help to improve dental health. Xylitol, erythritol, and sorbitol can effectively protect against tooth decay, making them the common sweeteners added in chewing gums and toothpaste.

Although sugar alcohols have many great health benefits, there are some downsides to substituting with sugar alcohols. Since your body has a hard time digesting most sugar alcohols, they go directly to your large intestine and are metabolized by the gut bacteria. This can lead to upset stomach and digestion issues. Certain sugar alcohols can also cause a spike in blood sugar levels so they might not be ideal for those with diabetes. 

Although sugar alcohols are good alternatives, monk fruit sweetener is another popular alternative for sugar that we love. At Levels Provisions, we use monk fruit to sweeten our whey protein without adding extra sugar. Naturally, monk fruit sweetener is extracted from the monk fruit plant, a small, round fruit originally grown in Southeast Asia. Called luo han guo in Chinese, monk fruit was not widely used Traditional Chinese Medicine but was known as an anti-inflammatory and a cough suppressant. This sweetener got its name because it was allegedly first used and cultivated by monks for its medicinal properties in the 13th century. Monk fruit has been thought to promote longevity and good health which is where it gained its another nickname, “The Immortals Fruit”. Monk fruit has long been used as a sweetener in Asia, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just approved it to be a sweetener in 2010, and it has become popular in the Western world since. 

Unlike most fruits, the natural sugars in monk fruit are not what makes it sweet. Instead, its sweetness comes from a type of compound called mongrosides, which makes monk fruit 150 to 300 times sweeter than regular table sugar! Since only the mongrosides are collected from the pressed juice of monk fruit, this sweetener is free of natural sugar. Although monk fruit definitely tickles our taste buds, unlike sugars and carbohydrates, insulin levels do not rise after consumption because the mongrosides do not break down into usable energy in the body. This makes monk fruit sweetener a perfect fit for people on a keto or low-carb diet because it has zero carbohydrates. It is also safe for people with high blood sugar and diabetes. Compared to sugar alcohols, monk fruit sweetener is an even better sugar alternative for those who are in the process of weight loss and those who are on a low-calorie diet. You can enjoy the sweetness without worrying about the calories or insulin spike. Scientists have found that the mongrosides in the monk fruit can also function as beneficial antioxidants. Some studies on animals also suggest that the mongrosides may help to lower blood sugar levels and keep diabetic complications under control.

The triple zeros in monk fruit extract: zero calories, zero carbohydrates, and zero sugar make it an outstanding sweetener that is good for all to use. Compared to sugar alcohols, which have the risk of upsetting your stomach, monk fruit sweetener is also safer to consume. This is why here at Levels, we choose to use monk fruit extract as a sweetener in our whey protein.