Is Monk Fruit the New Stevia?

The quest for the ultimate sweetener never ends. Is there, on this earth, a natural, healthy, zero calorie sweetener with no after taste, no side effects, and no long term health risks?

Wandering around the Food and Nutrition Expo here in San Diego, we came upon an interesting sign for Monk Fruit – All natural, calorie-free sweetness. Turns out this Chinese fruit, also called luo-han-guo, has been used as a sweetener in some rural areas of China for ages.

Now, BioVittoria, a New Zealand company, is trying to commercialize a powder extract derived from this product. According to the company, their process for turning fruit into a powder is much more natural than that of extracting Stevia from the stevia plant. And just like stevia, it is 200 times sweeter than table sugar. We got to taste a bit and indeed it is sweet.

The powdered sweetener is not commercially available at supermarkets yet, but it has found its way into some drinks and some Kashi products as well. According to the company, they received GRAS status from the FDA last year (Generally regarded as Safe), and now the food world has to discover them.

So far there have been no reports of negative side effects, but then again, monk fruit has not been studied as extensively as other sweeteners on the market. It will be interesting to see how this new sweetener will compete in the market in the coming years.

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  • Jim Cooper

    Well, what is it? What compounds does it contain? Don’t leave us hanging like the fruit

  • Paul_paslaski

    It is all on!

    Monk fruit is packed with healthy antioxidants and vitamins, but what makes this fruit really special is its natural, great-tasting, calorie-free sweetness.

    Monk fruit contains unique natural antioxidants called mogrosides which have a delicious sweet taste, but are calorie-free! 

    Natural, calorie-free sweetness from fruit!

    • Brooke

      But what are the long-term health effects? How can we be 100% sure that mogrosides are safe?

  • BMo

    Beyond merely thinking about long-term health effects on the consumer’s end, we should also consider the economic ramifications of exporting such a highly revered native fruit to our country simply because we cannot control our sugar intake normally. Just look at quinoa, for instance, a cereal touted by the nutritionally-conscientious in America for its high protein and fiber content. Our insatiable demand for the product has now translated into its ridiculously inflated price in lands where it was cultivated for thousands of years ( Let’s just hope that this doesn’t occur with sugar substitutes, particularly rural Chinese monk fruit, as well.

    • Dontbelieveit

      But that’s good as the cultivators of Quinona get a higher price for their crop.

      • Believeit…

        Not good. Because more land is being used for quinoa growing. Less land being used for lama grazing. The once naturally healthy/nutrient rich/fertilized land is now being striped because field rotation isn’t happening. Lama raising is going down while quinoa growth goes up. Yes, farmers are making more money but you’re still looking at a poor country. People could once afford quinoa, now they can’t. …

  • Garnercat

    I hope it’s the ONE!!

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  • TruthSeeker1968

    I am afraid to eat anything grown in China…

  • jay-nine

    My fear, its from china.

  • Jeffrey McKee

    Just bought a bag of it, it’s actually really good. It isn’t bitter like Stevia. Doesn’t have a powerful aftertaste like nutrasweet. Not make in a laboratory.

    Sugar alcohols taste the best but make your guts regret eating them. This has to be the best zero calorie sweetener so far.

    I just made some low carb no bake cookies if anyone’s interested. Melt 1 bar of bakers chocolate. Add about as much peanut butter as chocolate. a little bit of real butter. Chopped pecans. Non sweetened coconut flakes. 1 1/4 cups of Monk fruit sweetener. Mix. If it looks too solid add a very little bit of water.

    Sorry I don’t have the exact measurements. I’ve been making this stuff for a while. I just put in what looks right. It tastes a lot better now that I substituted Monk Fruit Sweetener for Stevia.