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Monk fruit extract: a healthy or unhealthy food fad?

Sugar is almost inevitable in our modern society, but it has a huge impact on our health. That's why many are looking for alternatives to sugar. But artificial sweeteners are not better! Monk fruit extract is an alternative to these sweeteners. It is low in calories and can be a good choice for those avoiding sugar and artificial sweeteners.

What is a monk fruit?

Monk fruit (Siraitia grosvenorii) is also known as luo han guo. It is native to southern China. This small orange fruit with a sweet pulp owes its name to the fact that it was cultivated mainly by Buddhist monks since the 13th century. Monk fruit is still grown almost exclusively in China.

Currently, monk fruit extract is manufactured exclusively in China. The export of this fruit is prohibited since 2004. For this reason, and the fact that monk fruit degrades too quickly to be stored, it is unlikely that the French will taste fresh monk fruit.

Monk Fruit Extract

Monk fruit extract is attractive because it is 250 times sweeter than sugar, but low in calories (sugars). The compounds, including the mogroside antioxidants, create a sweet taste without the sugar. The mogrosides metabolize differently than simple sugars and do not absorb during digestion.

Monk fruit extract is a concentrated natural sweetener containing these compounds. It can be very low in calories or completely calorie-free (depending on how it is processed). This sweetener is a sugar substitute that many people enjoy.

Health benefits of monk fruit

Being a natural low-calorie sweetener is not the only advantage of monk fruit extract. Studies are beginning to find many more reasons to use it.

Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory

Research shows that inflammation is at the root of many diseases today. Diseases include diabetes, cancer and heart diseases. Monk fruit contains compounds that act as antioxidants, fighting inflammation and potentially protecting against these diseases. This makes sense, as many fruits and vegetables are a good source ofantioxidants.

But the monk fruit contains antioxidants that other fruits do not (the mogrosides mentioned above). A study published in the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research found that mogrosides found in monk fruit may help reduce oxidative stress associated with diabetes.

Protecting against diabetes

diabetes

A lot of research shows that monk fruit can help keep blood sugar at a healthy level. This is because it is a low glycemic sweetener. In traditional Chinese medicine, monk fruit has been used for centuries to treat diabetes. Modern science supports this use.

A study published in the British Journal of Medicine found that monk fruit extract may help reduce symptoms and pathological response in people with diabetes. The rats had improved insulin response and reduced blood sugar levels. It even helped support kidney function!

In addition, some research suggests that monk fruit mogrosides may help improve immune function in diabetics. A Chinese study, published in 2006, found that mice given mogrosides were well protected against diabetes-induced immune dysfunction.

May protect against cancer

Cancer is a disease strongly associated with stress oxidative. Since monk fruit is a good source of antioxidants that help reduce oxidative stress, it makes sense that monk fruit extract can also help fight cancer.

But research also supports this theory:

A life science study claims that monk fruit has a protein with anti-cancer properties.

A study on cancerous mice revealed that monk fruit extract helped inhibit the growth of cancer cells (colorectal and throat). It also slowed the growth of tumors.

Two breast cancer cell lines were studied. A compound in monk fruit has been found to have anti-cancer properties. This compound inhibited breast cancer cells by promoting cell turnover.

Although more research is needed, these results are very promising.

Antimicrobial

This sweetener is also antimicrobial, according to a study published in the Journal of Asian Natural Product Research. It can therefore be beneficial for those who suffer from bacterial or yeast overgrowth in the intestine.

Is monk fruit extract safe?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recognizes monk fruit extract as generally safe. No research has identified any concerns. However, the research is still in its infancy.

Monk fruit has been used for centuries, but monk fruit extract is relatively new.

In small amounts, this sweetener is probably fine.

What does monk fruit extract taste like?

It may taste different depending on how the extract is processed. As a general rule, the more it is processed, the sweeter and blander it becomes.

Some describe this sweetener as having a sweet and fruity taste. Some people think it has a strong aftertaste, while others think the aftertaste is less noticeable than Splenda or stevia. Of course, personal preferences vary widely.

Monk fruit does not cause the same digestive problems as some sugar alcohols (like xylitol or erythritol). This makes it a better choice for some people.

How to use monk fruit extract?

You can use this extract in the same way as sugar (baking, cooking, etc.). Be sure to read the directions for use for the exact amount to use. It is much sweeter than sugar, so a little is all you need.

Where to find monk fruit extract?

This sweetener is available in many health food stores, as well as online. Many monk fruit sweeteners do not only contain monk fruit. Some contain additives and artificial sweeteners, so be sure to check the label. You can buy it in liquid form or as a dry powder. They are free of additives and additional ingredients.

Final thoughts on the monk's fruit

Our western diets are drowning us in sugar! As much as our children love our sugar-soaked society, it's up to us to find a better way to nourish our bodies. The extract of this fruit is an excellent alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners.

After reading the science and studies, we think monk fruit extract is a safe and healthy choice for our family.

Sources:

Harvard Health Publishing. (North Dakota). Inflammation: A unifying theory of disease. Excerpt from https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/Inflammation_A_unifying_theory_of_disease

Xu, Q., S. Chen, L. Deng, L. Feng, L. Huang, et al. (2013). Antioxidant effect of mogrosides against palmitic acid-induced oxidative stress in mouse NIT-1 insulin cells. Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research, 46 (11), 949-955. doi: 10.1590 / 1414-431 × 20133163 Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3854338/

Marie Dupont
14 November, 2019
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