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Q. What is MONK FRUIT?
What are the benefits/implications for consuming monk fruit as an alternative sweetener?
A. From the information I’ve gathered on Monk Fruit, this sugar alternative sounds like a promising option. Less carbs (2g) per serving, low caloric content
(not even enough to constitute a gram), “naturally derived”, no unpleasant aftertaste, and heat stable. It is derived from the actual Monk fruit (shaped like an apple or large lemon, the color of a green pear) found in China. But of course to get this powdered form, it is processed in a lab. It is generally recognized as safe (GRAS) according to the FDA and I have yet to find any direct study linking Monk Fruit to any harm/toxicity. Like other sugar alcohols (this does contain erythritol), the main issue is too much at once may cause gas and/or bloating.
But as with other alternative sweeteners, this too can possibly contribute to weight gain. Yes though low in calories and high in sweetness, this article discusses how it may not be in your best interest to rely on such products. Consider that it’s sweetness, while pleasant, does nothing to reduce your cravings for sweetness. In fact, it may contribute to stimulating the desire for sweeter foods, and the pleasure that entices one to consume more of a sweetened food.
So yes, use a little every now and then. I was given a package of Nectresse™ packets from the company that markets it and I must admit, the flavor is nice, no weird aftertaste – just one packet does the trick. But I don’t recommend using it daily or getting too comfortable using it. Remember it is best to eat mostly whole, natural foods (think plants). And there are plenty of ways to sweeten a food without relying on a processed sugar alternative. And these ways include substances that are heart-healthy and good for your digestion. Take almonds, they not only contain a subtle natural sweetness, they also contain heart-healthy fats, some fiber and antioxidant nutrients that are beneficial to your health. And bonus, they are satiating. A little goes a long way to satisfying your hunger. What else offers sweeteness without increasing your cravings:
Why I’d be remiss not to mention Mac-n-Mo’s morselicious treats (With the natural sweetness from rice, cinnamon and other spices, these treats are satisfying, delicious. And while a pleasure to consume, don’t drive you toward “excess munchies”).
Mo can share some real natural ways to sweeten without relying on a product developed in a lab:
Mo’s tips: I believe the best choice MOST of the time is to wean our tastebuds OFF the extra sugar and taste for super sweet foods. Believe me, once you succeed in doing so, a piece of fruit will tantalize your taste buds like a MORSELICIOUS tomorrow. Having said that, there are a few alternative ways to LIGHTLY sweeten our favorite treats, such as a blend of your favorite spices: cinnamon is incredibly sweet and helps reduce/stabilize blood sugar.
Mix into a nice gooey texture and you’ve got date paste!
I suppose one could try that with monk fruit, though I have not done so myself, YET. Another great option is to use unsweetened applesauce or make your own from the abundance of apples we have in season right now. Add cinnamon and voila! Unsweetened coconut, a mixture of your favorite nuts also satisfy. I use pure stevia in the liquid form occasionally and in tiny amounts. The reason I hesitate about some of these commercial alternative sweeteners is because of the OTHER NON-food items they are adding. Are the monk fruit sweeteners out there pure monk fruit extracts or do they contain extra ingredients none of us can pronounce, let alone decode? I love the challenge of NOT using sugar or sweeteners in most of my recipes and consider it a fun game. Wanna play?