For years, the only natural, no-calorie sweetener on the market has been stevia. While it is still a good option, it does have a bitter aftertaste that some people simply cannot tolerate. However, there is a natural sweetener called monk fruit extract that you should try if you are looking for a new, natural, no-calorie sweetener with no bitter aftertaste.
What is Monk Fruit?
The monk fruit is grown in China and Thailand where it has been eaten and even used in natural medicine for hundreds of years. People who live in the countries where it is grown have also used the juice of the fruit as a natural sweetener for many years.
Food scientists figured out how to isolate just the sweet components of the juice from the other flavors (some bitter), and now, many companies are producing and selling monk fruit sweeteners.
Why isn’t Monk Fruit Extract More Popular?
Monk fruit sweeteners were introduced to the American market in 2009, and they are relatively inexpensive, so why aren’t they more popular? This is likely partially due to the fact that many Americans simply don’t care whether a sweetener is natural or not and are unwilling to try something new. They are happy to continue using aspartame or sucralose, because they don’t realize (or just don’t care!) how much they can harm their health.
Monk fruit sweeteners also haven’t been as highly publicized as many new chemical sweeteners are. The lack of huge campaigns is likely due to its natural origins– since it is a natural part of a fruit, it cannot be patented. That means that if a company promotes it, they may not be the only company to profit from the campaign (Oh no!). Proctor and Gamble did patent a specific process of isolating the sweet flavor of the fruit from competing flavors, but companies are free to produce their own monk fruit sweeteners as long as they use a different process.
How To Find the Healthiest Monk Fruit Extract Sweetener
Like any other packaged food product today, don’t just purchase any monk fruit extract without checking the label. Unfortunately, since the extract itself is so sweet, pure monk fruit extract would be too difficult to use as a sweetener alone without being diluted or “bulked up” with additives. Since the pure extract is 200 times sweeter than sugar, even one drop of pure extract would be much too sweet to add to a cup of tea or other food.
Liquid monk fruit sweeteners typically contain a base of glycerin, while powdered monk fruit sweeteners often contain dextrose. While neither are ideal foods for your body, they are much less harmful to your health than chemical sweeteners.
There is no harm in eating natural, full-calorie sugars, and in fact, many of the healthiest foods in the word – fruits and vegetables – contain a natural form of sugar. However, no or low calorie sweeteners can come in handy if you have a sweet tooth, diabetes, or want to sip slowly on that sweet iced tea or coffee and not have to worry about developing cavities.
Don’t be afraid to post below if you find a monk fruit sweetener you love that has only natural, healthy additives!