If you’re trying to limit your sugar intake, monk fruit is a great substitute: also known as Luo Han Guo, this small, round fruit in the gourd family is native to China and Thailand. It’s known in the nutrition world for having no calories and zero carbs (which is why Kroma uses it as a sweetener in many lattes and smoothies.) First cultivated and discovered by the Luo Han monks over 800 years ago, this green gem of a melon also provides a variety of health benefits you might not know about yet.
What Is Monk Fruit Extract?
Monk fruit extract is up to two hundred times sweeter than traditional sugar, and it is made by crushing and drying the seeds and skin into a fine, concentrated powder. Monk fruit extract has a sweet taste that far surpasses the taste of table sugar or artificial sweeteners.
Monk fruit extract obtains its sweet flavor from antioxidants in the fruit, called mogrosides. Monk fruit does not contain glucose or fructose, making it a popular sweetener for dieters and people with blood sugar regulation issues.
What Benefits Can Monk Fruit Offer?
Monk fruit isn’t only trending for its low-calorie sweetening abilities; it also has many health benefits worth noting. From energy support to sleep quality and immune support, monk fruit can provide a variety of benefits for your overall health and well-being.
Discover twelve of the most noteworthy health benefits of monk fruit below.
1. Monk Fruit for Weight Management
Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose may contribute to weight gain, and obesity is a risk factor for many further health issues. Many artificial sweeteners are FDA-approved, but that doesn’t mean they’re healthy.
In fact, artificial sweeteners can lead to cravings, overeating, high blood sugar levels, and an imbalance in good gut bacteria.
Monk fruit is a popular alternative to artificial sweeteners because it tastes sweet and does not contain the adverse side effects of these other types of sweeteners. It has zero calories and zero carbs, making it a dieter’s dream come true. Monk fruit is a fantastic substitute for table sugar and artificial sweetener ingredients that are marketed to “support” weight loss.
2. Monk Fruit Supports Healthy Levels of Blood Sugar
Monk fruit may improve glycemic control by not negatively affecting blood sugar levels. One study explored the effects of aspartame and monk fruit-sweetened beverages and their effects on the glycemic index of 30 male participants. Researchers measured the participants’ blood glucose and insulin levels and found that monk fruit had little to no effect as opposed to artificial sweeteners, which raised these glycemic levels.
Monk fruit is a natural sweetener containing compounds called mogrocides. Mogrocides protect DNA and lower blood glucose levels in the body, which may be why monk fruit does not negatively impact blood sugar.
3. Monk Fruit Helps Combat Swelling
Monk fruit contains mogrocides, and these compounds may have anti-inflammatory properties that protect the body from free radical damage (the main source of inflammation). Inflammation has been shown to contribute to a wide variety of health issues, and thus, monk fruit may help ward off certain health concerns.
These anti-inflammatory effects may make monk fruit a healthier alternative to conventional, artificial sweeteners that have been shown to contribute to inflammation in the gut.
4. Monk Fruit Supports Immunity
For centuries, monk fruit has been used in Traditional Chinese medicine to relieve sore throats, cough, and loosen phlegm.
Monk fruit contains a compound called siraitiflavandiol, an antibacterial agent that fights the growth of Candida albicans (bad yeast that grows in the gut) and Streptococcus mutansin (causes tooth decay) cell cultures.
Mogrocides help support immunity according to a study administered to immunosuppressed mice. Cellular immunity was significantly enhanced in these mice when mogrocides were administered to them, which suggests that monk fruit may work to combat certain illnesses.
5. Monk Fruit Supports a Healthy Heart
Monk fruit contains compounds that prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. When cholesterol oxidizes, it builds up into plaque in the blood vessels and arteries. The mogrocides in monk fruit can help prevent cholesterol from accumulating in the arteries and may even increase HDL (good cholesterol).
Because of these effects, monk fruit can help support a healthy heart.
6. Monk Fruit Antioxidant Boost
The mogrocides in monk fruit are what give it its sweetness. These compounds may help protect DNA and prevent oxidative stress by offering an antioxidant boost.
Antioxidants work to prevent free radical damage, reduce the effects of skin aging, and reduce inflammation that can lead to disease.
7. Monk Fruit Is a Natural Alternative to Sweeteners
Monk fruit is a fantastic alternative to other sweeteners because it is heat stable, making it ideal for baked goods.
Monk fruit is a healthy substitute for sugar and works well for sweetening coffee, tea, sauces, salad dressings, desserts, recipes, and baked goods without the health risks associated with artificial sweeteners.
Kroma OMG Cookie Butter is a healthier sweet treat containing monk fruit, almond butter, goji berries, and coconut butter. Full of antioxidants, omega fats, and plant protein, OMG Cookie Butter helps satisfy your sweet tooth without compromising your wellness goals.
8. Monk Fruit Contains Essential Nutrients
When you eat monk fruit in its natural state, it provides healthy doses of vitamin C. Vitamin C boosts the immune system because it supports the production of white blood cells. These cells promote the overall immunity of the body, helping to prevent certain illnesses.
Table sugar may actually deplete the body of vitamins and minerals that have been consumed from other food sources, meaning that conventional added sugar may play a role in malnutrition. Monk fruit, however, does not contain fructose or glucose, and it is calorie-free and fat-free, making it an ideal substitute for sugar.
9. Monk Fruit Supports Metabolism
Whereas artificial sweeteners have been linked to endocrine disruption and metabolic disturbances, monk fruit has not been shown to have these same effects. Artificial sweeteners may negatively impact the endocrine system, leading to metabolic changes and imbalances in the gut microbiome.
Monk fruit may make for a healthier alternative to artificial sweeteners because it does not disrupt the body’s metabolism or energy.
10. Monk Fruit Supports Sleep Quality
Sleep is one of the most important aspects of your well-being, affecting your physical and mental health. Table sugar promotes a reduced sleep quality due to its ability to significantly affect cortisol levels.
Cortisol is the stress hormone that affects your immune system function, metabolism, and stress response. Normal cortisol levels are at their peak in the morning hours and gradually decline throughout the day.
Cortisol tells your body when it's time to wake up, and when you eat sugar, it triggers an elevation of insulin, which leads to an elevation in cortisol. This signals a group of cells in your brain to “wake up”, in turn affecting your circadian rhythm (sleep cycle).
Though table sugar and certain sugar substitutes have been shown to interfere with sleep, monk fruit does not appear to have the same negative effects because it does not spike the body’s blood sugar levels.
Kroma Wellness Calming + Restore Magnesium combines monk fruit with magnesium, prebiotics, and pomegranate to soothe your body, support better sleep, and regulate digestion.
11. Monk Fruit Helps Support Energy Levels
Artificial sugar substitutes trick our brains into thinking we are consuming sweet treats. Reward pathways in the brain are not fully activated because these sweeteners don’t contain the calories our bodies need, causing us to eat more and exercise less. Less exercise leads to lower energy levels.
A study conducted on mice found that monk extract decreased fatigue in mice that exercised, increasing the duration of exercise. Monk fruit is often called the “longevity fruit” because of its potential support for energy and athletic endurance.
Kroma Spicy Passion Latte contains monk fruit alongside maca, reishi mushroom, and cacao for a delicious way to feel energized, rejuvenated, and ready to get your spice on.
12. Monk Fruit Supports the Body’s Response to Allergens
The human body has many mast cells that mediate histamine response. Histamine response is the inflammatory allergic reaction your body has to foreign stimuli such as an insect bite. For example, the body’s response to seasonal allergies triggers a histamine response that leads to your nasal congestion and runny nose.
Monk fruit may block the body’s histamine response to allergies, similar to mast cells.
Is Monk Fruit Safe for Everyone?
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), monk fruit is generally safe for consumption for all consumers, including pregnant/nursing women and children. This FDA approval includes its use in both food and beverages. Side effects of monk fruit consumption are rare.
The FDA approved monk fruit for use as a sweetener in 2010, so there are no long-term studies to know the long-term effects of monk fruit consumption. It is always best to exercise caution when consuming large amounts of monk fruit.
Consult your doctor if you are taking medications to ensure that no negative interactions occur.
How Should I Use Monk Fruit as a Sweetener?
The shelf life of monk fruit is short, so many people opt to use it in its dried state. It is also available as a sweetener in liquid and powder forms. Its sweet flavor is ideal for use in recipes requiring sugar or sweet ingredients, and in the following:
- Coffee and lattes
- Smoothies and juice
- Sauces and dressings
- Oatmeal and cereals, like our Super Porridge
- Baked goods
Are Monk Fruit Allergies Common?
Severe allergic reactions to monk fruit after consumption are not common — however, if you are prone to food allergies and you are unsure, consult your doctor before incorporating monk fruit extract into your diet.
If you have allergies to fruits in the gourd family, such as melons, you may be at a higher risk of monk fruit allergies.
The Bottom Line
Monk fruit was first used by monks over 800 years ago. Today, it is widely used as a sweetener alternative to table sugar, aspartame, sucralose, and other artificial sweeteners. Monk fruit has many health benefits that make it especially beneficial for its consumption.
Kroma Wellness is proud to source and blend our Majik Matcha Latte with monk fruit. Its antioxidant-rich recipe contains ten times more antioxidants than green tea. This latte consists of ceremonial grade matcha, turmeric root extract, ginger root, goji berry, blue majik, monk fruit, and Himalayan pink salt.
Maintain long-lasting energy throughout your day, without feelings of anxiety or caffeine crash. Boost your metabolism and amplify your focus every morning with Kroma Majik Matcha Latte.
Everything You Need To Know About Monk Fruit Sweeteners | Food Insight
Artificial Sweeteners Negatively Regulate Pathogenic Characteristics of Two Model Gut Bacteria, E. coli and E. faecalis | NCBI
Anti-inflammatory Activities of Mogrosides from Momordica grosvenori in Murine Macrophages and a Murine Ear Edema Model | Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry | PUB ACS
Antibacterial compounds from Siraitia grosvenorii leaves | Pub Med
The Biology of Streptococcus mutans | NCBI
Added sugars drive nutrient and energy deficit in obesity: a new paradigm | NCBI
How Non-nutritive Sweeteners Influence Hormones and Health | Research Gate
How Sugar Affects Your Sleep | Start Sleeping
Effects of Siraitia grosvenorii Fruits Extracts on Physical Fatigue in Mice | NCBI
Effects of aspartame-, monk fruit-, stevia- and sucrose-sweetened beverages on postprandial glucose, insulin, and energy intake | Pub Med
[Regulation on the immunological effect of mogrosides in mice] | Pub Med