This time of year, it's easy to forget how much sugar we are (actually) eating. The holidays usually come with seasonal baked treats, candies, and other goodies packed full of sugar. But sugar consumption in the US isn’t unique to the holidays – in fact, the average American eats 17 tsp of sugar a day! That's more than the American Heart Association recommendations: only 6 tsp for women and 9 tsp for men (1). With all that sugar benign eaten, a lot more is changing than just people’s pant sizes.
Over the past few years, we have seen a rise in diet-related diseases such as obesity, type II diabetes, etc. Health experts at John Hopkins share that one of the best ways to prevent these diseases is to cut back on dietary sugar (2). With how many foods contain added sugars and refined carbohydrates, this may seem nearly impossible – that is, until we share with you one of our FAVE healthy sugar swaps!
Monk fruit is an all-natural sweetener that is made from a fruit called lo han guo, named after the monks who discovered the fruit. The fruit is native to southern China and various parts of Thailand (3). Monk fruit is a member of the gourd family – meaning its closely related to pumpkin and squash!
Monk fruit is processed into a sweetener that comes in either liquid or granulated form - similar to sugar. Monk fruit sweetener can taste 150-200 times sweeter than table sugar - meaning you can use less of it to get the same sweet effect in your foods. It gets its sweetness from special antioxidants in the fruit, instead of a sugar compound. The sweet taste of monk fruit makes it one of the best sugar substitutes for baking. It is also a great sugar substitute for the keto diet, diabetics, or anyone trying to cut back on sugar!
Because of the different adverse effects that sugar can have on one’s health, swapping to monk fruit sweetener may be an excellent option for you! One reason for this being that monk fruit is entirely natural. Many artificial sweeteners may help lower calorie intake to reduce weight; however, that does not make them healthy. Artificial sweeteners may result in health issues of their own, and specialists are finding that they change how one perceives sweetness (4). With an altered sense of sweetness, it may cause people to form an unhealthy relationship with traditional sugars. It’s also important to consider the relative newness of artificial sweeteners, and that we can also not determine how they may affect health long-term. This is why we think monk fruit is one of the best all-natural sweeteners around!
Another benefit to swapping from sugar to monk fruit is that it has zero calories. Monk fruit is a sweetener classified as a mogroside – which has to do with how it is broken down in the body. For a mogroside sweetener, glucose is not broken down and released until the food reaches the colon. At this point, the mogroside sugars are used by gut bacteria for fuel, rather than being released into the bloodstream and stored in the body as fat (like with traditional sugar). Because we do not store any glucose (sugar) in a mogroside, it makes them zero calories. Due to the high number of health issues stemming from weight gain, swapping to monk fruit may help you protect your health by cutting calories from your diet!
Another interesting fact about monk fruit is that it has a value of zero for the glycemic index (5). The Glycemic index refers to how much a certain food will cause blood sugar levels to rise in the body, with higher numbers resulting in higher blood sugar spikes (6). Because the glycemic index value of monk fruit is zero, it does not cause sudden spikes in blood sugar. This is great for people with diabetes, because their bodies have a much harder time regulating blood sugar. Diabetics can develop a host of health complications if their blood sugar remains high for too long, which is why monk fruit can be an especially great option for them.
We use monk fruit in our candy FAVES to add sweetness without the sugar. Here at FAVES, we know how important diet is to maintaining your health – and how maintaining health can be an essential part of one's happiness! We hope to help cut down the amount of sugar being consumed in the US providing a sweet alternative to traditional sugar-filled candies. Click here to order our candy, so you can see what the monk fruit hype is all about!