There is no doubt that people love to eat. Enjoying a good meal in good company is one of life's great pleasures. However, not taking care of our diet can contribute to the development of diseases such as obesity and diabetes. That is why beneficial foods have emerged to replace those that harm us, such as monk fruit sweeteners.
Replacing foods and beverages that are high in calories and added sugars with ones with less sugar is an excellent option to reduce excess calorie intake. In turn, this can help reduce the risk of obesity and related chronic diseases.
This group of low-calorie sweeteners are used in foods and beverages as a way to reduce the intake of added sugars and, at the same time, provide the satisfaction of enjoying something sweet.
What are Monk Fruit Sweeteners?
Monk fruit, also known as Io han guo or Siraitia grosvenorii , is a small round fruit native to southern China. It has been used for centuries in Eastern medicine to treat colds and promote digestion. And now it is also used to sweeten foods and beverages.
Monk fruit sweeteners are made by removing the seeds and skin from the fruit, crushing the fruit, and collecting the juice. The fruit extract, or juice, contains zero calories per serving. The FDA permits the use of monk fruit sweeteners in foods and beverages.
What gives the monk fruit its sweet taste?
The compounds that give sweetness to ripe monk fruit are called mogrosides. These consist of a main structure called mogrol with attached glucose or glycoside units.
Mogrosides are not absorbed in the upper gastrointestinal tract and do not contribute calories to our diet. When they reach the colon, the gut microbes separate the glucose molecules and use them for energy. Mogrol and some metabolites are mainly excreted from the gastrointestinal tract, while minor amounts are absorbed into the bloodstream and excreted in the urine.
200 times sweeter than traditional sugar
Monk fruit sweeteners are 150-200 times sweeter than sugar and add sweetness to foods and beverages without adding calories. Monk fruit sweeteners are used in beverages and foods such as soft drinks, juices, dairy products, desserts, sweets, and condiments.
Like all low calorie or no calorie sweeteners, only very small amounts of monk fruit sweetener are needed to achieve the same sweetness of sugar. To facilitate measuring and pouring, they are typically mixed with approved common food ingredients. This is why a packet of sweeteners made from monk fruit looks the same in quantity as a packet of table sugar, for example.
Is it safe to consume monk fruit sweeteners?
Yes. Monk fruit sweeteners have been permitted as Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by the FDA since 2010. GRAS is a category that requires expert consensus to approve that a food ingredient is safe for consumption.
The governments of Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, and Canada have also concluded that monk fruit sweeteners are safe for the general population. Including children, people with diabetes, and pregnant or breastfeeding women.
An acceptable daily intake (ADI) for monk fruit sweeteners has not yet been established as no adverse effects have been shown. Even after having administered large amounts of monk fruit sweeteners in animal studies. The ADI generally represents an amount 100 times less than the amount of a substance that is considered safe in research studies.
Is it safe for children to consume this sweetener?
It is safe. Foods containing monk fruit sweeteners can add sweetness to a child's diet. Without contributing to the increased intake of calories, sugar or the risk of cavities. While no research has yet been published on the intake of these sweeteners in children, no negative health effects have been found in animals or adults.
As with adults, the typical intake of low-calorie sweeteners in children is considered to be within acceptable levels. However, due to limited studies in children, the American Academy of Pediatrics has no official recommendations on the intake of low-calorie sweeteners.
Can pregnant and lactating women consume monk fruit sweeteners?
If you can. While there is no published research that has examined the possible effects of monk fruit sweeteners in pregnant and lactating women, several animal studies have found no adverse effects on reproduction or development in the mother or her young.
All women should try to consume the nutrients and calories necessary for the growth of their baby during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Taking care not to exceed your needs. This may require taking into account all sources of sweeteners, be they sugar or low-calorie sweeteners.
Is it safe for those with diabetes?
Yes. Products containing sweeteners made from monk fruit provide a sweet taste. And they are often low in carbohydrates, which is important for people who must monitor their carbohydrate intake. These types of sweeteners do not increase blood sugar levels.
The American Diabetes Association Medical Standards for Diabetes Care state that:
“The use of non-nutritive sweeteners can reduce the total intake of calories and carbohydrates if they are substituted for caloric sweeteners (sugar) and without compensation for the additional calorie intake from other food sources. Non-nutritive sweeteners are generally safe to use within defined acceptable daily intake levels. "
However, people with diabetes should speak with a registered dietitian , healthcare professional, or certified diabetes expert for advice on healthy eating to improve blood sugar control.
What is the IDA?