Despite its funny name, monk fruit isn’t something that pious fellas in robes chow down on during times of fasting in order to stave off those gnarly hunger pangs. (Actually, that’s what beer is for. Seriously, look it up!) This fruit has actually been cultivated via agriculture for centuries, and the stories as to its name are varied. According to Monkfruit.org, one legend posits that the fruit was named after the Buddhist monks who first cultivated the fruit in Asia nearly a thousand years ago. However, in more recent times, the fruit has been prized for its healthful properties and low-calorie sweetness factor, often added to food for some zing. Monk fruit is also known as “lo han” fruit.
Monkfruit.org says that this sweet-tasting fruit is especially popular due to its combination of low-caloric content and pleasing, sweet taste. In fact, despite its sugary taste, monk fruit can be concentrated like other fruits and fruit juices, but the concentrated form does not boast an appreciably larger caloric content. The FDA approved monk fruit in 2010, according to MedicalDaily.com. Shape.com says that monk fruit’s sweet taste doesn’t derive from sugar but rather from a unique antioxidant called mogroside that gives it a sweetness factor that is as much as 200 to 500 times greater than table sugar.
Monkfruit.org also says that foods seasoned with monk fruit will have almost no extra calories added in via its seasoning. This allows you to add it to your food for a sweeter taste but simultaneously without over-increasing your body’s blood sugar levels. This is great news when you are craving that sweet taste but are worried about tossing extra calories into your dietary mix. Like other sweeteners—including ones we’ve covered in this blog—monk fruit provides a sugar taste but without, well, sugar!
So as we’ve seen, monk fruit is an Asian fruit whose natural sweet taste comes from ingredients other than sugar, which allows for a sweetness that is not sugar-based and which actually may be sweeter than sugar. Furthermore, no research has yet found the monk fruit to be harmful to the human body. But remember, like anything else, moderation in use is the key to the health of life!