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Monk Fruit: Ugly and Sweet

Monk fruit was something many of us had never heard of. We first read about it in a recipe that one of our students submitted to an earlier blog with Keto recipes, and we simply had to find out more.  So, we started from the beginning: what exactly is a monk fruit?

According to Healthline, it is a tiny green gourd from Southeast Asia, described as not very appealing and unable to be stored for long periods.  The history of the fruit’s unusual name, though, is entirely interesting, stemming from the 13th century when Buddhist monks were the first to use it.

Here is the good news: monk fruit extract is up to 150-200 times sweeter than sugar, with the added benefit of having no calories!  A natural sweetener, it contains no carbohydrates, zero sodium and no fat.  The U.S. Food and Drug administration has examined the fruit and recognized it as safe.  In addition, you can cook with it.  This is a major benefit as many zero calorie sweeteners unfortunately do not adapt well to being cooked.

To learn more about this sweet fruit, we asked SCNM's Dr. Katie Stage, ND a few questions.  When asked about the potential benefits and drawbacks of utilizing the fruit, she mentioned that with almost no calories and a sweet taste, it is becoming more commonly available.  Starbucks even uses it to sweeten some of their products.  The drawback, however, is that “a fair number of people will experience gas, bloating, and indigestion when using it, especially in higher amounts.”

She went on to state that, although the extract is manufactured in a lab and not technically natural, it is generally considered safe.  “Although I often recommend patients with GI conditions avoid it, I think it is better for people, in general, to decrease the amount of sweet tasting things in their diet, because then it is much harder to appreciate the natural sweetness of many foods.  Just make sure that the quality of the fruit was good before it was manufactured into a sweetener.”

So, although it appears that there are some drawbacks to monk fruit, perhaps you should try it.  SCNM’s Medicinary can help you locate a reputable brand, and you can contact them by clicking here.  If you do try it (or already have), let us know what you think!