For most of us, Monk Fruit is perhaps the last fruit option to choose, and with no second thoughts, it is certainly not expected to magnetize our eyeballs among all those vibrant, colorful, and luscious fruits such as oranges, apples, lemons, and mangoes. However, monk fruit is getting its share of hype now from sugar-free lovers, health-conscious foodies, and dieticians.
Monk fruit is a tiny green melon that belongs to southern China. It was named after the ancient monks who first started growing it centuries ago. The sweetness in monk fruit comes from the extraordinary glycosides stored in the fruit’s flesh. Moreover, monk fruit is an excellent source of antioxidants and several other organic compounds as well as vitamins that offer a wide range of health benefits.
Proponents of The Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has long been recommending Monk Fruit for its nutritious and health benefits, and now it’s finally coming to the wellness and health mainstream.
According to the International(1) Food Information Council Foundation, monk fruit is around 150–200 times sweeter than sugar.
Buddhist monks in the 13th century were the first to cultivate the fruit, and that’s how its name derived.
What is Monk Fruit Sweetener?
You can extract the sweetener of monk fruit from the extracts of dried fruit. Its extract is said to be around 150 to 200 times sweeter as compared to table sugar. It contains zero carbs and calories and doesn’t increase your blood glucose level.
Most non-nutritive sweeteners typically lead to several side effects such as allergic reactions, bloating while the sweeteners prepared from monk fruit have no such side effects.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers monk fruit as “generally recognized as safe (GRAS)” for everybody, including children and pregnant women.” Even so, since monk fruit is somewhat new to the world, there’s no specific research on the consequences of its long-term use.
[Read: Benefits of Tamarind Fruit]
Monk Fruit Health Benefits
Monk fruit is prevalent amongst health-conscious people due to its numerous benefits. Let’s run through the top 10 benefits of monk fruit:
1. Relieves Allergy
Monk Fruit is known to block histamine released by mast cells that trigger the symptoms of allergy such as inflammation, irritation, and coughing.
2. Helps Fight Obesity
Unlike processed sugar, natural sweeteners like monk fruit do not add unwanted calories to your food, thence enhancing your metabolism and avoiding unwanted weight gain.
3. Provides Anti-microbial Properties
Unlike sugar, monk fruit compounds exhibit anti-microbial, beneficial properties that prevent the growth of unwanted microbes in your intestinal tract. The monk fruit extract and leaves can also combat bacteria, candida(2), and streptococcus accountable for various gum disease.
4. Strong Antioxidant Properties
Monk fruit is a good source of antioxidants that help the body fight the free radicals and several other diseases. Also, they safeguard the body from a wide range of respiratory ailments.
5. Controls Diabetes
Processed sugar hurts people who have diabetes; however, natural sweeteners like monk fruit do not create the same adverse impact on the blood sugar levels and, therefore, help control and prevent diabetes.
[Read: Foods for Control Diabetes]
Pulmonary fibrosis is a critical disease in which tissues of the lungs become scarred and rigid, making the lungs unable to breathe correctly. Monk fruit offers an anti-fibrotic element called mogroside IIIE that delivers favorable results for patients suffering from fibrosis by normalizing the cellular matrix deposition and regulating inflammation.
7. Enhances Cardiovascular Health
Monk fruit has enough capacity to cut down the possibilities of heart attacks and strokes by stopping the development and progression of atherosclerosis.
8. Reduces Inflammation
Monk Fruit has stringent anti-inflammatory properties that aid in overcoming various common illnesses such as joint inflammation, heat stroke, and fever. Monk fruit can be combined with water or consumed directly to improve the symptoms of these ailments.
[Read: Benefits of Prickly Pear]
9. Helps Prevent Cancer
Various researches have verified monk fruit’s anti-carcinogenic properties that inhibit the growth of skin and breast tumor with its important protein content that showcases powerful cancer-fighting properties.
10. Prevents Infections
The anti-microbial compounds present in monk fruit protects the body against a wide range of bacteria. In particular, monk fruit is exceptionally potent at protecting your mouth and gums against bacteria and other infections; thus, the fruit helps fight tooth decay and maintain oral hygiene.
What are the Different Ways to Use Monk Fruit?
You can enjoy monk fruit’s natural sweetener to sweeten just about anything, such as:
- Salad dressings
- Iced tea, hot tea, or lemonade
- Oatmeal or other cereals
Healthy DIY Monk Fruit Recipes
There are numerous ways in which you can include monk fruit in your diet. Here’re a couple of handy, delectable monk fruit recipes:
1. Raw Green Goddess Smoothie
Ingredients you’ll need:
- Spinach, 1 cup
- ½ Granny Smith apple, cubed, seeded, and peeled
- ½ cup Baby Kale
- ¾ cup chilled coconut water
- ½ inch slice
- Raw monk fruit, one packet
How to Prepare Raw Green Goddess Smoothie:
Start by placing the coconut water, ginger, kale, and spinach in a blender and mix thoroughly. Next, add the monk fruit and stir well. Pour in a beverage jar or glass and serve with pride!
2. Chewy Brownies
Ingredients you’ll need:
- seven tablespoons unsalted butter, seven tablespoons
- 1 cup monk fruit In the raw-bakers bag
- 4 ounces finely chopped dark chocolate
- 2 large eggs5. One teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup chopped walnuts
- ½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour, ½ cup
How to Prepare Chewy Brownies:
- Preheat your oven to a temperate of 350℉.
- Use cooking spray and coat an 8-inch-square baking pan.
- Now melt the unsalted butter in a mid-sized bowl.
- Add the dark chocolate and let the blend stand for 2 minutes.
- Then, stir briskly till the chocolate melts and the mixture gets smooth.
- Now whisk in the sweetener.
- Then add the large eggs one by one – keep whisking smoothly.
- Pour in the vanilla extract.
- Next, add the flour using a spatula.
- Finally, add some walnuts – then give a rapid stir all the while.
- You can spread the unsalted butter evenly in the pan.
- Now bake for around 22 minutes.
- Allow the prepared pan to cool down.
- Cut to small squares, and serve with a smile.
Monk Fruit Side Effects and Allergies
Along with its numerous advantages, monk fruit has its demerits as well.
- Dried monk fruit, which is used for preparing herbal remedies and tea, it is tough to find.
- The cultivation process, i.e., from its growth to harvest and then drying it, is extremely challenging. Moreover, the import and processing of monk fruits is extremely. Therefore, the cost of monk fruit’s natural sweetener is on the higher side as compared to various non-nutritive sweeteners.
- Also, many individuals are turned off by monk fruit’s strange aftertaste.
Although monk fruit allergies aren’t familiar, there is still a risk of mild allergic reaction with whatever you consume. The fruit belongs to the gourd family (also known as the Cucurbitaceae family), which consists of melons, cucumbers, squash, and pumpkin. The risk of monk fruit allergies is higher in case you are allergic to other members of the gourds. Specific signs of monk fruit allergy may include:
- Rash or hives
- Difficulty breathing
- Rapid or weak pulse
- Vomiting or stomach pain
- Swollen tongue
More research is required for exploring the complete health merits and demerits of monk fruit. However, monk fruit sugar looks like a fantastic option for those who have diabetes and for those willing to cut down on dietary sugar. As such, there are numerous claims regarding the ability of monk fruit to treat and prevent cancer and several other ailments, but there is a lack of research to support these claims scientifically. Several recent studies have revealed that many non-nutritive sweeteners tend to impact gut bacteria as well as the intestinal lining.
It is still not clear as to how processing the extract of monk fruit into a non-nutritive sweetener can impact our health. Technically, monk fruit includes calories and carbohydrates just like all veggies and fruits. They’re typically regarded as a zero-calorie fruit. They contain zero fat, as well as zero carbs.
Therefore, in case you are interested in using monk fruit instead of sugar as a sweetener in some of your daily recipes, beverages, or in your morning coffee, try it! Only be sure to consult your health physician for discussing your concerns regarding sugar alternatives.