Monk fruit is native to China and named after the monks who cultivated it originally. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners have used this ancient variety of small, green melon for centuries.
Although not the most attractive fruit when compared to its vibrant counterparts, monk fruit offers a wealth of benefits to health-conscious consumers.
Monk fruit is a small, round fruit that originally hails from southern China. Although TCM practitioners have used it for centuries, manufacturers have more recently focused on its potential as a sweetener.
Monk fruit is rich in compounds called
Monk fruit is a small fruit that has a long history of medicinal use. Its benefits include the following:
May promote weight loss
A person who uses sugar can reduce their calorie intake by substituting monk fruit sweeteners where they would typically use sugar. For example, in their morning coffee, or with breakfast oats. People can also create low-calorie treats and desserts by using monk fruit sweeteners.
Safe for people with diabetes
Monk fruit does not affect blood sugar, meaning it is a safe choice for people with diabetes.
However, consumers should understand product labeling to make sure their choices do not also contain sugar or other ingredients that can affect insulin sensitivity.
The mogrosides in monk fruit have antioxidant characteristics, which protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. The damage is a primary source of inflammation, meaning that monk fruit also has anti-inflammatory properties.
Although inflammation is the body’s natural way of healing itself, chronic inflammation is associated with many health problems. These include heart disease, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, and digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.
May have anticancer properties
Limited research suggests that monk fruit may have anticancer properties.
The antioxidant effects of mogrosides also reduce DNA damage by free radicals, which scientists associate with cancer growth.
May fight infections
Studies suggest that monk fruit may have antibiotic properties.
Monk fruit has a very short shelf life. People may find the dried fruit or monk fruit tea in Asian grocery stores or TCM suppliers.
Monk fruit is also available as a sweetener, which people can use as a sugar alternative in many foods and drinks, including:
- tea and coffee
- lemonade, smoothies, and fruit juice
- sauces and salad dressings
- ice cream and frozen yogurt
- mousse and frostings
Generally, monk fruit sweeteners are not suitable as sugar alternatives in baked goods that need sugar for texture and structure.
Monk fruit has potential as a sweetener. However, because producers find it challenging to cultivate and expensive to process, monk fruit sweetener costs more than alternatives.
Consumers in the United States will likely see fewer monk fruit options in the grocery store than other less expensive, more well-known alternatives.
Monk fruit is a fruit native to China that typically reaches U.S. supermarket shelves as sweeteners.
Because it is 250 times sweeter than sugar and has no effect on blood glucose levels, it is a good option for people who want to limit dietary sugar.
Monk fruit appears to have a range of health benefits, but more research is needed to confirm the full range of its health impacts.