Published on August 11th, 2011 | by Rachel Fox, RD4
Monk Fruit: The Newest Non-Calorie Sweetener
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?