Here at Natural Living Ideas, we’re always on the lookout for new ‘health foods’ to pick apart, study and experiment with. So imagine my delight upon discovering a new zero-calorie sweetener cozied up next to our faithful companion Stevia rebaudiana at the grocery store a few weeks ago. It’s name is Siraitia grosvenorii (aka “Monk Fruit” or luo han guo); and while Monk Fruit isn’t precisely ‘new’ to the natural health food scene, it has been a bit of a wall flower since it first appeared amongst the ranks of no-cal and low-cal natural sweeteners several years ago.
Now, after a healthy amount of research and a good bit of taste-testing, this little sweetheart has officially earned a permanent home in our pantry.
Here are the 12 reasons why:
1. Monk Fruit Actually Tastes Good
While my personal love affair with Stevia has been going strong for many years now, there’s no denying that our favorite zero-calorie natural sweetener has a bit of an aftertaste. While Monk Fruit extract does have just the tiniest hint of the same lingering bitterness, it is almost unnoticeable. Its primary flavor, on the other hand, is very similar to sugar. It also carries just a hint of a fruity top note which is reminiscent of honeydew melon.
In other words: Monk Fruit extract actually tastes really good for a zero-calorie sweetener (assuming you like honeydew, that is!)
2. It’s a Perfect Compliment to ‘Jazzed Up’ Water
Several months ago while exploring the many ways to make ‘boring’ water taste better (or at least be more exciting), we were introduced to the Aqua Zinger. Since then, this little gadget has been the vessel for extensive experimentation involving a wide variety of fruit flavor combinations meant to jazz up my daily H2O. All the while, Stevia has been the go-to sweetener whenever I wanted something a little more soda-ish than mere fruit-flavored water.
Since Monk Fruit made it’s debut performance in the Aqua Zinger, it has consistently stolen the spotlight in the jazzed up water department. So far, ‘The Monk’ has been introduced to various combinations of kiwi, mango, banana, apple, pineapple, strawberry, peach, nectarine, cantaloupe and watermelon. I am quite pleased to report that it has gotten along famously with all of them.
Just be careful if you decide to add Monk Fruit extract to fizzy water or any other carbonated beverage. The two have some pretty explosive (i.e., extremely bubbly) chemistry together!
3. It Can Help You Cut Calories and Lose Weight
As with any zero-calorie sweetener, using Monk Fruit instead of sugar is a good way to regulate your calorie intake when you’re trying to lose weight. Around the world, this particular sweetener is recognized to be a safe zero-cal sugar substitute for people of all ages. For this reason, as well as because of its pleasant flavor and almost non-existent aftertaste, Monk Fruit is also great for sweetening foods and drinks for children. But the best part is that it’s totally natural, so you don’t have to worry about unpleasant side-effects like those frequently attached to a lot of other zero-calorie sugar substitutes.
Further Reading: 10 Surprising Drinks That Accelerate Fat Loss According To Science
4. Monk Fruit Contains Powerful Antioxidants
Monk Fruit extract owes its super sweet taste to the powerful antioxidants known as mogrosides which it contains in abundance. As with most other antioxidants, Mogrosides are well known for their many beneficial effects on the human body. These benefits include increased protection against some forms of cancer, reduced risk of heart disease, regulation of glucose and cholesterol levels in the blood, improved digestive health and protection from free-radical damage through the entire body. Read on for more details!
5. It Is Known To Improve Cholesterol Levels
Mogroside antioxidants in Monk Fruit extract have also been studied for their effects on blood-lipid levels. So far, so good! While the only research thus far has been on laboratory mice, Monk Fruit has been confirmed by science to have a positive impact on cholesterol – significantly reducing LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglycerides while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol. Thus, sprinkling a little Monk Fruit extract into your food and drinks can considerably lower your risk of developing heart disease!
Further Reading: 18 Natural Ways To Lower Cholesterol Fast
6. Monk Fruit Helps Regulate Blood Sugar
As previously mentioned, the antioxidants contained in Monk Fruit extract have been determined to have a positive effect on the the secretion of insulin within the human body. Furthermore, because it contains no calories, using Monk Fruit extract in place of sugar can have a huge impact when it comes to regulating blood-glucose levels – good news for diabetics! Especially if you’ve already tried Stevia but couldn’t stomach the bitter aftertaste, you’ll definitely want to give Monk Fruit a try!
7. Monk Fruit Possesses Anti-Cancer Properties
Again, while there haven’t been a lot of long-term scientific studies on Monk Fruit extract in particular, the mogroside antioxidants contained in the extract are known to possess anti-cancer properties. So far, this effect has only been studied on tumors in mice, but it’s still pretty impressive for an all-natural zero-cal sweetener!
Further Reading: 19 Potent Herbs & Spices That Help Fight Cancer
8. Monk Fruit Has Anti-Viral Capabilities
The list of foods which contain anti-viral compounds isn’t a very long one, as we explored in this article a while back. However, you can go ahead and add Monk Fruit to the list! Monk Fruit has been determined to be effective in the treatment of such life-threatening viruses as hepatitis C and HIV. Not bad for a sugar substitute!
Further Reading: 7 Anti-Viral Foods That Will Keep You Healthy Year-Round!
9. Monk Fruit Is Anti-Inflammatory
With all of other its assorted health benefits which we’ve covered thus far, it will probably come as no surprise that Monk Fruit is an anti-inflammatory food. Again, this is due to the high concentration of antioxidant mogrosides contained in the fruit. As shown in this recent study, Monk Fruit extract works to reduce inflammation on a genetic level by suppressing the expression of certain inflammatory genes while simultaneously increasing the activity of anti-inflammatory genes.
Further Reading: Top 21 Anti Inflammatory Foods You Need To Add To Your Diet
10. It Helps To Ward Off Digestive Problems
Inflammation in the gut is a primary cause of many common digestive problems including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). And excessive consumption of acidic foods like sugar actually cause inflammation and indigestion. Thus adding Monk Fruit extract to your foods and beverages in lieu of sugar will help to repair and prevent digestive problem twofold!
Learn more natural ways to reduce inflammation and improve your digestion with these: 13 Easy Ways To Heal Your Gut: The Most Important Thing You Can Do For Your Health!
11. You Can Use Monk Fruit To Treat a Cough or Sore Throat
Also due to its anti-inflammatory properties, Monk Fruit extract can be used to treat ailments of the throat such as soreness or persistent coughing. In fact, this has historically been one of the primary uses for the fruit throughout its native regions in southeast Asia. Try adding Monk Fruit extract to hot sage tea – another food with throat soothing capabilities to really nip your symptoms in the bud!
For a list of 15 super effective herbal cold & flu remedies – including sage – check out our 15 Herbal Remedies to Help You Survive Cold & Flu Season. (You’ll never need to waste money on cold medicine ever again.)
12. It Just Might Make You Live Longer
Siraitia grosvenorii is indigenous to the Guangxi province of southern China – a part of the world which is also home to some of the longest-lived people on Earth. Skeptics may claim that this is nothing more than a simple geographical coincidence. However, Monk Fruit is also known as the “longevity fruit” by those who have been eating it for hundreds (if not thousands) of years in Asia. Western science has some catching up to do as far as proving it. Until then, I for one am more than happy to respect the advice of hundreds of years of first-hand experience from one of the highest populations of 100+ year-old people on the planet!
Monk Fruit isn’t the only natural secret to longevity, by far. Pick up a few more from these 10 Himalayan Wonders With Extraordinary Health Benefits!
Where To Find Monk Fruit
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, Monk Fruit extract is slowly making its way onto the shelves in some major supermarkets. However, if you either can’t find it or don’t feel like hunting down that elusive orange box, you can pick up Monk Fruit the easy way – from online retailers like Amazon. Here you’ll find Monk Fruit extract in single serving packets (a new packet color – yeah!) You can also buy it in a bakers bag which is a much better value and reduces waste if you don’t care for packets.
More Recommended Reading
If you’ve yet to read my diatribe on sugar addiction, dive into these 10 Convincing Reasons You Need To Quit Sugar, Right Now! which shines a spotlight on the damaging effects of sucrose in all of its many forms, as well as my subsequent love of all-natural zero-calorie sweeteners like Stevia and Monk Fruit.
Then follow up with How To Quit Sugar: 10 Tricks From A Former Sugar Addict to learn ten solid methods that will empower you to eliminate this tempting poison from your life once and for all. (And maybe pick up a few good laughs, too!)