Monk Fruit: Nature’s Sweet Secret

Monk fruit, also known as lo han guo or swingle fruit, is a small, round fruit native to southern China. It has been used in traditional Chinese medicine to make tea to soothe sore throats and reduce phlegm. This medicinal fruit was so sweet that it later became a sugar substitute.

Monk fruit is named after the Chinese monks who cultivated it, and although the fruit itself contains natural sugar, its sweet taste comes from its high levels of unique antioxidants called mogrosides. resulting in a monk fruit powder containing no sugar.

The FDA has approved monk fruit as the safest sweetener available, and it’s safe for everyone to consume, including pregnant women and children. It has many benefits – it is all natural, calorie free, neutral in taste and suitable for sweetening, cooking and baking. In addition to its culinary benefits, it also has health benefits. Here are seven great reasons why monk fruit is better than other sweeteners:

  1. Slows down aging: Research published in the journal Food Science Nutrition in 2007 found that mogrosides inhibit the activity of free radicals, which are molecules that can damage cells and even affect our DNA.

  2. Beneficial for diabetics: The antioxidants in monk fruit help lower blood sugar and balance insulin levels secreted by the pancreas. Thus, diabetic patients can enjoy all of its health benefits without raising their blood sugar levels, as it contains no carbohydrates or calories. These results have been proven in studies published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research in 2006 and in the Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research in 2013.

  3. Anti-inflammatory properties: Mogrosides also have anti-inflammatory properties, which makes them beneficial for people suffering from joint inflammation, intestinal inflammation, throat inflammation and other inflammatory processes. As an added bonus, consuming a drink sweetened with monk fruit can also help reduce phlegm and soothe a sore throat.

  4. healthy heart: The antioxidants in monk fruit prevent cholesterol oxidation and increase good cholesterol (HDL) levels, helping to prevent heart attacks, as suggested by a study published in the journal Food & Function in 2019. Another study published in the Iranian Journal of Basic Medical Sciences in 2023 found that these antioxidants have the potential to help prevent heart failure.

  5. Allergy Relief: The mogrosides found in monk fruit have been shown to inhibit the production of histamines, which are substances released during allergic reactions and cause unpleasant allergic symptoms.

  6. Strengthens the immune system: The antioxidants in monk fruit also exhibit antibacterial properties and balance the intestinal flora, which contributes to a strong immune system. Antioxidants also have anti-inflammatory properties, which are beneficial in preventing diseases related to the immune system.

  7. Anti-cancer properties: As mentioned, mogrosides fight free radicals that can cause cancerous mutations. This was reported in studies published in the journal Cancer Letters in 2003 and in the journal Letters in Drug Design & Discovery in 2006.

Did you know? Monk fruit is 100 to 250 times sweeter than sugar! Its sweetness comes from the concentrated powder extracted from its dried fruits.

Monastic Traits don’t have to accompany you in the kitchen: sweeten, cook, and bake with Monk Fruit.

Monk fruit powder is sold in powder form at most health food stores, and it is recommended to use it in its pure form without mixing it with other sweeteners. After bringing home some monk fruit powder, here are 2 sweet summer recipes to try:

Creamy Vanilla Shake
What you will need (for 2 servings):

  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (cashew/almond/oat/coconut)

  • 1/4 cup melted cocoa butter

  • 2 teaspoons of chia seeds

  • 1/3 teaspoon vanilla bean seeds (from natural paste or vanilla stick)

  • 1/4 teaspoon monk fruit powder

  • 1 teaspoon maca or lucuma powder

  • 1 generous tablespoon cashews or almond butter

  • 1/2 cup of ice cubes

What to do: Blend all ingredients well in a blender until smooth, pour into a glass and enjoy.

Half gourmet truffles
What you will need (for 10 truffles):

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour or green banana flour

  • 1/3 teaspoon monk fruit powder

  • Pinch of salt

  • 1/2 cup raw tahini (preferably whole sesame)

  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil

  • 1 tablespoon quality honey or natural maple syrup

  • Topping options: coconut flakes/coconut flour/toasted sesame seeds

  1. Combine coconut flour (or green banana flour), monk fruit powder and salt in a bowl.

  2. Add the tahini, coconut oil, and honey (or maple syrup) to the bowl and stir until smooth. If the mixture is too sticky, add a little flour, and if it’s too dry, add a little coconut oil.

  3. Transfer the mixture to the refrigerator to harden for 15 minutes.

  4. Shape the mixture into walnut-sized balls and coat them with your favorite coating. Store in the fridge for up to a week or freeze for up to a month.

The author is a certified naturopath, runs the Natural Health Center and is the author of the book “Its Tasty to Eat Healthy”.

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