Updated: Jun 28, 2021
Today, we will be examining the benefits of Luo Han Guo (monk fruit), a type of dried fruit that is commonly used in ancient China and now has gained much attention in western society for those diagnosed with diabetes.
First introduced to the market as a type of dried fruit, it is nowadays used frequently among diabetes patients as a sugar substitute. However, most of us probably wouldn't notice this dried fruit among the aisles or be willing to buy it, judging from its less attractive brown-ish colour.
Luo Han Go (monk fruit) originates from southern China and typically looks like a small green melon. It is named after the monks in China who cultivate and use this ingredient throughout their cooking and has been widely recognized by Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) as an effective natural sweetener. Monk fruit sweetener is made from the extract derived from the fruit and is 150-250 times sweeter than table sugar, has zero calories and carbs, and does not raise blood glucose levels. In addition, different from other artificial sweeteners such as Splenda, the monk fruit sweetener does not cause bloating, discomfort, or any allergic reactions.
The reason that monk fruit tastes so sweet is from a natural compound called mogrosides. Mogrosides are found in certain plants (such as the monk fruit), extracted from the plant to be made into sugar-like granules to act as a sugar substitute.
Hence, monk fruit sweetener is a great choice for a sugar substitute for patients diagnosed with diabetes as it does not increase blood sugar levels, making it a safe choice to consume. However, some brands may advertise that they use monk fruit as a sweetener, but beware to read the ingredient labels clearly to see if they also add any other types of sugars such as cane sugar.
Using monk fruit sweetener can also help weight loss if you use it to substitute the regular sugar used in your daily lives, such as baking, cooking, and drinking. In addition, in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), dried pieces of monk fruit have been used frequently to treat sore-throats, suggesting that they have anti-inflammatory properties.
However, monk fruits can be hard to find in western grocery stores as they are more expensive than other sweeteners such as Splenda or normal cane sugar. This is because monk fruit grows rancid quickly when fresh and thus has to be dried quickly or made into a sweetener quickly, making the process of creating monk fruit sweetener costly and expensive to import.
Overall, monk fruit is a safe choice for those trying to adapt to a healthier lifestyle but cannot resist the temptation of sugar. Not only does monk fruit offer many benefits other than increasing the sweetness of the food, but it brings sweetness into your life!
Interested in using monk fruit? Try using it in lattes, iced teas, salad dressings, marinades, cookies, oatmeal, yogurt and more! Try out these recipes; it will taste exactly like using sugar (but without the carbs and calories)!
Here are some recipes:
Traditional Luo Han Guo Tea (Credits to Nyonya cooking)
Sugar Free-Lemonade (Credits to WholesumYum)
Keto Brownie Bites (Credits to Ketogasm)