When you have a sweet tooth, instead of straying from your meal plan, you should reach for the monk fruit extract. Similar to Stevia, monk fruit is a natural sweetener extracted from a plant. However, it is sweeter and potentially healthier.
If the lack of sugar in your diet is causing you to struggle with keto or low carb diet, monk fruit may offer the perfect substitute.
Where Does Monk Fruit Come From?
Monk fruit grows on vines and resembles a small, green melon. It is grown throughout Southeast Asia, including northern Thailand and southern China. Monk fruit is also known as Siraitia grosvenorii or luo han guo.
The fruit was first grown by Buddhist monks during the 13th century, which is how the fruit gained its name. The fruit was traditionally dried and ground into various herbal medicines. It is now most commonly used as a natural sweetener.
When making the sweetener, manufacturers remove the skin and seeds before crushing the fruit. The collected juices are then dried and processed into the sweetener that you can find in health stores and online.
Why do people like this natural sweetener? It contains powerful compounds that are over 200 times sweeter than sugar without the calories and unnecessary carbs.
Monk fruit packs a punch that allows a small amount to be used for sweetening keto foods and drinks.
Benefits of Using Monk Fruit on the Ketogenic Diet
When starting the keto diet or other low-carb meal plans, many people crave sugar. There is a good chance that sugar was your primary fuel for most of your life. Now that you are cutting back on it, your body constantly wants more sugar.
Natural sweeteners such as monk fruit provide an alternative to table sugar. While you may not use sweetener as a direct substitute for sugar in baking, it is a great way to add sweetness to your foods and drinks.
Monk fruit also contains several potential health benefits, thanks to the powerful antioxidants that it contains. The compounds found in this extract may help fight inflammation, fatigue, infection, and allergies.
The antibacterial properties of some of the compounds found in monk fruit may slow the growth of harmful bacteria. In some studies, it was even found to help fight the symptoms of fungal infections.
The antioxidants found in the sweetener may also possess anti-cancer properties. In studies involving mice, monk fruit inhibited the growth of pancreatic cancer cells.
These are benefits that you can’t get from sugar. In fact, sugar is linked to numerous health problems. Eating too much sugar can increase your risk of heart disease, chronic inflammation, and Type 2 diabetes.
The average adult in the US eats an amazing 22 teaspoons of sugar every day. With four grams of carbs per teaspoon, that’s 88 grams of unhealthy carbs per day.
While you shouldn’t eat 22 teaspoons of monk fruit every day, it does offer a suitable substitute.
How Does Monk Fruit Compare to Other Sweeteners?
Monk fruit has received a lot of attention in the low-carb world lately. However, it is not the only sweetener available. There are several popular natural and artificial sweeteners, including:
We already discussed exchanging sugar for erythritol in our “Erythritol, the Sweet Ketogenic Diet Ingredient” article, so do check it out as well.
Stevia is the most direct alternative to monk fruit. It is also extracted from a plant and includes compounds that are much sweeter than sugar.
Both stevia and monk fruit contain zero calories and about half a gram of carbohydrates per teaspoon. Unfortunately, Stevia has been linked to several side effects, including gas and bloating. Monk fruit is not known to produce the same gastrointestinal discomfort.
Splenda is one of the most used artificial sweeteners. It is a sucralose-based sweetener. Sucralose is an ingredient that cannot be digested. It may also increase the risk of liver inflammation and damage the microbiome in your gut.
Maple syrup, honey, and agave are commonly used as natural sweeteners. Compared to Splenda and artificial sweeteners, these options are healthier. They carry no risk of side effects and include beneficial minerals.
The drawback to these natural sweeteners is their carb count. One teaspoon of honey contains six grams of carbs while maple syrup and agave may contain four or five grams.
You’re getting the same amount of carbs as using real sugar.
If you want to stick to the ketogenic diet and need a sweetener, monk fruit is likely your best option. It only contains about half a gram of carbs per teaspoon and offers many potential health benefits.
When Should You Use Monk Fruit on the Keto Diet?
Keto desserts, obviously!
Natural sweeteners are best used in moderation. While monk fruit extract only contains about 0.4 or 0.5 grams of carbs per teaspoon, it’s always a good idea to limit your consumption of sweeteners.
Using one or two teaspoons with a meal or drink should not impact your state of ketosis. However, if you have two or three teaspoons throughout the day, you’re slowly adding more carbs to your diet.
There are not a lot of keto recipes, besides keto desserts, where sugar is needed. You probably wouldn’t like the taste of grilled chicken sprinkled with sweetener. The best way to use monk fruit is as a sweetener in our keto desserts.
You can add a teaspoon to a standard serving without ruining your meal plan. A teaspoon offers just enough sweetness to overpower bitter ingredients or give your favorite smoothie a bit of a kick.
Last Thoughts on Using Monk Fruit for Keto
When you take carbs off the menu, you need to find substitutes such as sweeteners. Monk fruit offers one of the healthiest solutions for fighting sugar cravings and adding more flavor to your foods and drinks. Monk fruit is keto friendly and is a beautiful ingredient. It is worthy of use in your keto kitchen. Check our keto recipes section and give it a try. You will not regret it!