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Published on August 11th, 2011 | by Rachel Fox, RD


Monk Fruit: The Newest Non-Calorie Sweetener

monk fruit is the newest sugar substitute
Well if it isn’t another non-calorie sweetener. What is so special about monk fruit and are there any products that contain it yet?

I first came across monk fruit when doing my taste testing of Arctic Zero frozen treats. I read the ingredients before trying it and saw “monk fruit.” Since there were barely any calories in the product, I knew something had to be up. I immediately searched it and discovered it to be a natural sweetener with few calories. I am always over skeptical of foods without calories because I think people should just own up to their sweet tooths.

What is Monk Fruit?

The monk fruit originates in China and supposedly gets its name since Buddhist Monks were the first to cultivate it many years ago. It looks like a small version of a melon and has a sweetness 300 times that of regular sugar. A New Zealand-based company BiVittoria has already begun producing it for commercial needs. Their product, “Fruit-Sweetness,” is about 150 times sweeter than sugar. BiVittoria‘s website markets this product as “diabetic-safe” since it is sans calories, yet still super sweet.

Another website, strictly devoted to promoting monk fruit, has an expert testimony portion. A registered dietitian and natural foods specialist comment. They both talk about how great this product will be for kids and families since they will be able to enjoy sweets without the calories.

I am a little hesitant to agree with them. Shouldn’t we take responsibility for the foods we eat? I don’t think the solution to diabetes is zero calorie products, but rather learning to enjoy less sweet food. If people can continue to eat high sweet things, they will not know the difference between foods that increase their diabetes, and foods that don’t. To me sweeteners, natural or not, are like band aids to bullet wounds.

Any thoughts on monk fruit or low-calorie sweeteners in general?

Image credit to creative commons user DeathByBokeh

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About the Author

Rachel is a Registered Dietitian and food and nutrition enthusiast from southeast Michigan. She has her Bachelor's in Dietetics from Central Michigan University and completed her dietetic internship at Michigan State University. Rachel aspires to get a Master's of Public Health in the near future. Her passions include cooking, baking, and even grocery shopping. She supports local food, slow food, and good food! Rachel's spare time is devoted to attending local concerts and festivals, reading and playing tennis.

4 Responses to Monk Fruit: The Newest Non-Calorie Sweetener

  1. Brianne says:

    But nonetheless, isn’t a natural low calorie sweetener better than a bunch of sugar being added to a product or a nasty chemical artificial sweetener? I really think you can get the best of both worlds without effecting the health of individuals in a negative way.

    • Rachel Fox, RD says:

      I agree that eating something sweet without the extra calories is beneficial. But at the same time, I don’t agree with these products being marketed to diabetic people. It isn’t the answer to their condition and marketing like that makes it seem that way.

  2. Monk fruit is fruit right? so a no calorie fruit sweetener sounds cool thanks for sharing :)

  3. kitblu says:

    I agree that all people, not just diabetics, need to learn to enjoy, make and demand food (“sweets”) less sweet. Not to mention all the “savoury” foods that contain sweeteners. (To what purpose other than to foster addiction?)

    I use stevia and glycerin sparingly and only to take the “edge” off. I often use dried fruit or unsweetened fruit sauce in oatmeal, pancakes and muffins although some dried fruit is difficult/ expensive to find unsulphured, which has its own problems.

    Some manufacturers have eliminated trans-fat, hopefully they can do the same with sweetners.

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