Have you heard of monk fruit?
If you’re someone who likes to keep updated on the latest health trends, odds are that you have. The Dr. Oz Show and The Food Network have both recommended the fruit, while famous nutrition and fitness expert JJ Virgin uses monk fruit in her diet plan. But what’s the big deal about it, and what makes it different than any other fruit?
The reality is that monk fruit isn’t just a trend. Studies show that this superfood has a ton of upsides and not a single downside. Here’s the skinny on this trending food that’s making a name for itself in households everywhere.
What is monk fruit?
Monk fruit, also known as “Buddha fruit,” and “Luo han guo,” is native to China, getting its name from the monks who were the only ones who knew how to cultivate it due to its strange and difficult growing conditions. Monk fruits are grown mainly in the steep mountains of Guilin, as they can be in the shade and mist that protects them from the sun, but still in a warm climate. It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for years as a treatment for everything from sore throats to constipation.
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The monk fruit belongs to the gourd family and, while the exterior is hard and covered with hairs, the inside is delightfully sweet and edible. It was only scientifically recorded in the 1930s and recently started to become popular in kitchens today.
Why is monk fruit so popular?
There’s a good reason why monk fruit has been all the buzz recently. This new superfood is mainly used as a sweetener, which is carefully extracted through a four-step process: it’s crushed to release the juices, which are then infused with water, which are then concentrated and dried to be used in baking and cooking, as well as in beverages.
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There are plenty of natural sweeteners out there, but monk fruit stands out among the rest due to its numerous health benefits.
Health Benefits of Monk Fruit
1) Sweeter than other sweeteners—and even sugar
Monk fruits are so wonderfully sweet because they contain mogrosides, an active sweetener compound. According to The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), these mogrosides are a natural sweetener “on the horizon” as they have no calories but are still intensely sweet. In fact, monk fruit is estimated to be approximately 250 times as sweet as sugar by weight.
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2) Prevents…well, pretty much everything
Forget apples—a monk fruit a day might keep the doctor away. The exotic fruit combats lots of ailments. Studies have shown that they “exhibit antidiabetic, anticarcinogenic, antibacterial, antioxidant, and antiallergic effects.”
3) No bitter aftertaste
Many avoid alternatives to sugar because even if they initially taste good, the aftertaste is unpleasant. The CSPI adds that monk fruit is wonderfully sweet the whole way through, without the added bitterness that many other sweeteners have.
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Monk fruit is an all-natural sweetener, so you don’t have to worry about unhealthy chemicals or preservatives. However, watch out for brand-name sweeteners, such as Nectresse, which contain other ingredients—and taste-testers could certainly tell.
5) Low in calories
Get the “skinny” on monk fruit–this magical fruit is healthy for your waistline as well. It has very few calories, making it a healthy alternative to sugar.
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What would I use monk fruit in?
Like other sweeteners, monk fruit sweeteners can be used in place of sugar in pretty much any case. Use it to make Mom’s cookie recipe a little healthier, or stir it into your tea for a healthy fall treat. Keep in mind that it’s also marketed as “Lo Han sweetener” after its Chinese name.
There’s a reason why health and wellness shows and magazines have been raving about this new superfood. Monk fruit isn’t just a health fad, but will likely remain regarded as one of the healthiest fruits out there and one of the best alternative sweeteners to add to your diet.
Replace sugar or your current sweetener with the all-natural monk fruit, and you’ll take away calories and that nasty bitter aftertaste while adding intensity, antioxidants, and vitamins—all while fighting diseases like cancer and diabetes.
Photo by -AroFarMeR-