Chances are you have seen monk fruit sweeteners hit the shelves of your local grocery store over the past few years. This seemingly new sweetener has a rich history in traditional Chinese medicine and has been used for thousands of years. Luo Han Guo is a small green melon that is grown in the Guangxi province in China. (1) When used as a nonnutritive sweetener the mogrosides are extracted from the fruit resulting in a substance 300 times sweeter than sucrose or table sugar. (2) Monk fruit sweeteners are non-caloric making them a great option for diabetics and those looking to reduce their caloric intake from sweeteners.
Luo Han Guo is traditionally used in TCM to soothe sore throats and reduce mucous production by dissolving it in a warm liquid. (1) However, in western culture the powder is used mainly as a zero-calorie sweetener. (2) Monk fruit can now be found in many processed foods like keto cookies or diet beverages. Additionally, loose monk fruit powder can be purchased for sugar free baking at home. The sweetness comes from the extracted mogroside, specifically mogroside V and 11-oxo-mogroside V, which have been shown in vitro to have inhibitory effects on reactive oxygen species. (3) What this means is monk fruit may have antioxidant effects in the body! This makes monk fruit a great sweetener to compliment a well-balanced diet. Due to the lack of research and human trials, it is difficult to know exact long-term effects and benefits.
Powdered or liquid extracts can be used as a sugar substitute in baking, cooking, and sweeting beverages. It is important to be mindful of the ingredients of any purchased product. Due to the highly sweet nature of monk fruit, consumer-based products may be combined with other sweeteners like sugar alcohols to mellow out the flavor.
Personally, I like to use small amounts of pure, undiluted monk fruit powder to sweeten up my afternoon matcha!
1 tsp matcha
½ tsp pure monk fruit
1 tsp coconut mana
1 tsp MCT oil
1 scoop collagen powder
1 cup hot water
Sprinkle of cinnamon
Place all ingredients into a high-speed blender and blend for 30 seconds.