You’ve heard of stevia and agave, the popular sugar substitutes that have been lapped up by fitness freaks. The latest craze among health conscious folks is the monk fruit sweetener.
What’s monk fruit?
Monk fruit is also known lo han guo is native to south east Asia. The sweetener is extracted after removing the seeds and skin by crushing the fruit and collecting its juice. What makes it highly popular is the fact that it is 100-250 times sweeter than sugar, so even a very little quantity goes a long way. But the best part is that sweetener made from monk fruit has zero calories, making it an apt choice for fitness lovers. “Monk fruit also contains a powerful antioxidant known as magrosides,” says Parshant Wadhawan, consulting nutritionist, Viiking Trance fitness by Sachiin Joshi.
Is monk fruit safe and healthy?
Yes, it is safe to be consumed. There have been many studies conducted so far and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reviewed these published research papers and deemed monk fruit as safe.
“Largely, monk fruit is considered healthy because it has anti-inflammatory effects. It also helps reduce blood sugar levels among obese patients,” says Wadhawan. Monk fruit has also shown some anti-ageing properties.
Are there any side effects?
“The fact that monk fruit has zero calories, it makes it a popular sweetener among low-calorie product makers,” says Shradha Khanna, head nutritionist, The Food Analysts, a Whatsapp based calorie counter. She adds, “Although one may fool the heart, but the brain is always smarter. These sweeteners cause changes in the acidity levels of the body that make you crave more food. Also, such a sugar kick confuses your brain because it does not generate the energy it associates with the consumption of real sugar, asking you to eat more, leaving you sluggish and dull throughout the day.”
Another interesting point made by its critics is that though monk fruit is a natural sweetener and considered healthy, the products that it may be added to may not be. For instance, monk fruit sweetener is added to baked goods, yoghurt, salad dressing. If it is combined with products that are high calories, it no longer remains a viable option for weight watchers.
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