Monk Fruit vs Stevia: The Facts

“Monk Fruit vs Stevia” was written by soon-to-be Registered Dietitian Kierstin White and edited by Dr. Su-Nui Escobar, DCN, RDN, FAND.

Over the years, health-conscious people have looked for ways to replace sugar without losing sweetness in their favorite food or drinks. 

Monk fruit and stevia are two natural forms of sweetener that many people have used to replace sugar. This blog will provide the fact that will help you decide which one is best for you.

Monk Fruit

What is Monk Fruit Sweetener?

Monk fruit
Monk fruit

This is a relatively new natural sweetener that is extracted from monk fruit, a small green melon native to southern China. It is made into a sweetener by removing the seeds and skin, crushing out the juice, and drying the remaining flesh into a powder. 

 This sweetener has zero calories, and it’s not a significant source of nutrients either.

Monk fruit contains mogrosides, which are the principal compounds responsible for the high-intensity sweetness in the fruit, making it 150-250 times sweeter than table sugar.

Benefits of Monk Fruit

People like to use monk fruit instead of sugar since it has zero calories and does not raise blood glucose levels.

Additionally, there is no evidence to show that it provides any side effects to those using it. However,  to make a definite conclusion, we need more research.

According to an article published in the Pantagar Journal of Research, monk fruit extract and mogrosides have anti-oxidative effects and anti-allergic properties as well as anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic and anti-tissue damaging benefits.

With this information, it’s an easy conclusion that monk fruit is a good sweetener alternative for those that are diabetic, want to lose weight, or are simply health conscious. 

Cons of Monk Fruit

Due to its origins, monk fruit is not as readily available as many other sugar alternatives. The plant is difficult to grow and manage.

As a result of this difficulty, when you come across it, you’ll see that it’s also not the most budget-friendly product!

Monk fruit sweetener is readily available in many food stores. It’s worth noting that a lot of the manufacturers will add sugar alcohols to the powder to reduce the intensity of the sweetness. That means that these forms are no longer the “natural” sweetener that many people are looking for. 

Thus, if you are looking for a natural sweetener, it is important to read monk fruit labels.

Many people report that monk fruit sweetener has an unappealing aftertaste.

Is Monk Fruit Safe?

The United States Food and Drug Administration granted safe (GRAS) status to monk fruit.

How to Buy and Use Monk Fruit

You can find this natural sweetener in many stores, supermarkets, and health stores. It comes in liquid, packets, cubes, and granulated forms.

In its pure form, it’s not ideal for baking but can still be used in place of table sugar in things like tea and coffee. There are monk fruit products available that can be used in a one-to-one ratio for baking.

Stevia

What is Stevia?

Stevia
Stevia

Stevia has become one of the most popular natural, zero-calorie sweeteners, and it does not raise blood glucose levels. 

This sweetener comes from stevia rebaudiana, a flower-like plant with oppositely arranged leaves that is native to South America. While the plant contains vitamins and minerals, most are lost during the processing that creates the sweetener.

South Americans have been using stevia as a sweetener and medicine for centuries. It has also been a popular sweetener for years in Asia.

Similar to monk fruit, stevia is 250-300 times sweeter than table sugar. It definitely tastes different than sugar, but many prefer the flavor to that of artificial sweeteners.

Benefits of Stevia

Stevia has been a product of interest to health experts for its positive effects on blood sugar regulation, blood pressure, inflammation, and weight management.

It’s  a relatively easy plant to grow and manage, making it a more cost-efficient sweetening product when compared to monk fruit. 

Cons to Stevia

The taste of stevia might not be enjoyed by everyone. In its raw form, it has a very subtle suggestion of licorice to it.

In addition, many brands of stevia are blended with other sweeteners, such as sugar alcohols, which might cause digestive issues in some people.

If you are one of them, find a brand without sugar alcohols—as always, it’s a good idea to read the product nutrition label so that you know what you’re consuming. The trick is to recognize that these sugar alcohols might be listed by their actual names, including erythritol, maltitol, mannitol, sorbitol, xylitol, and isomalt.

Stevia can also be blended with other sweeteners that might increase blood sugar levels (dextrose and maltodextrin).

Is Stevia Safe to Use?

Stevia is an approved Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) product. This is a classification by the FDA that a product or supplement is not considered to be hazardous to health.

How to Buy and Use Stevia

You can find stevia in most supermarkets and health stores in many forms. It’s widely available in liquid, packets, cubes, and granulated, like sugar.

Because stevia is much sweeter than sugar, you will need a lot less to sweeten your beverages.

For baking, you might need to make some adjustments. However, there are commercial formulations of stevia available that you can use instead of sugar in a one-to-one ratio.  Read the labels and be mindful that such products might be blended with other sweeteners.

What’s Better: Monk Fruit or Stevia?

To conclude, both of these products are good natural alternatives to sugar. It comes down to personal preference.

Monk Fruit vs Stevia

References

A. K. PANDEY and O. P. CHAUHAN. Pantnagar Journal of Research. PJR – Pantnagar Journal of Research. http://gbpuat.res.in/paperdetail.php?paper=1129. Accessed October 21, 2022.

Ray J, Kumar S, Laor D, et al. Effects of stevia rebaudiana on glucose homeostasis, blood pressure and inflammation: A critical review of past and current research evidence. International journal of clinical research & trials. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7059728/. Published 2020. Accessed October 21, 2022.

RK; GSKSNG. Stevia (stevia rebaudiana) a bio-sweetener: A Review. International journal of food sciences and nutrition. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19961353/. Accessed October 21, 2022.

Suri S, Kathuria D, Mishra A, Sharma R. Phytochemical composition and pharmacological impact of natural non-calorie sweetener- monk Fruit (siraitia grosvenorii): A Review. Nutrition & Food Science. 2020;51(6):897-910. doi:10.1108/nfs-09-2020-0350. 

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