Have you heard that monk fruit extract might be a good sweetener for type 2 diabetes?
As it turns out, it actually is. So let's learn more about it.
What is Monk Fruit Extract?
Monk fruit is a small melon that naturally grows in Asian regions like southern China and northern Thailand. The extract from this fruit is very sweet and it's been used in Chinese households for thousands of years.
Monk fruit also has a role in traditional Chinese medicine for soothing sore throats and relieving the common cold.
Chinese immigration brought monk fruit to the U.S. in the 1940’s and its popularity as a low calorie sweetener has spread across the world from there. It is now readily available in health food stores and supermarkets in many countries—how convenient!
Fresh monk fruit can spoil very quickly so you will only see it on a grocery store shelf in the form of monk fruit extract, which has been processed. You can find it in both a liquid and a powered form.
Amazingly, monk fruit extract is 300 to 400 times sweeter than cane sugar (white sugar) so a little can go a long way!
A typical serving size for the powered extract is 1/8 teaspoon and that tiny amount is more than enough to sweeten drinks, desserts, and smoothies.
Monk fruit contains no calories, fats, protein, or carbs.
Considering monk fruit is zero carbs, it is a great alternative to regular sugar.
The extract of this little fruit also has a glycemic index of zero—so it does not raise your blood sugar at all—yet another bonus!
If you compare one tablespoon of monk fruit extract to other low carb sweeteners you’ll notice that it has the same amount of calories, carbs, and glycemic index as both stevia and aspartame.
But white sugar aside, are all zero carb sweeteners created equal? Why pay for some fancy monk fruit extract when you can find fake sweeteners like aspartame for dirt cheap?
Keep reading to find out…
Myths and Truths
Myth: All alternatives sweeteners are the same because they have zero carbs and don’t raise your blood sugar. Any alternative sweetener is automatically healthier than real sugar.
These alternatives still contain lots of carbs and fructose, which aren’t conducive to a healthy diabetic diet. You should also be weary of artificial sweeteners like aspartame, because they are linked to other health problems – weight gain, fatty liver and inflammation, to name a few.
Natural or not, you can’t lump all “alternative sweeteners” together and say they are healthier overall, especially in terms of type 2 diabetes.
It's important to ignore the hype around popular health trends and do your homework on each product before adding it to your diet.
However, the good news is that monk fruit extract is a good alternative sweetener that doesn’t appear to have any negative side effects.
Research on Monk fruit Extract
It’s amazing how many health boosting properties are packed into these unusual fruits. As mentioned earlier, monk fruit has been used for centuries to fight infections and allergies in traditional Chinese medicine.
It has antihyperglycemic properties that gently lower blood sugar levels in the body. Monk fruit also contains an antioxidant compound called “mogroside,” which has been associated with improved insulin release from the pancreas.
The antioxidants from the mogrosides exhibit powerful free radical scavenging ability that protects DNA from oxidative damage.
One study showed that rats given monk fruit extract had a less dramatic increase in blood glucose after eating sugar. This study suggested that monk fruit extract may also prevent blood sugar spikes in humans, which would be a huge win for diabetics.
Studies have shown that the mogrosides found in monk fruit extract also have a “cooling effect” that is anti-inflammatory within the body. These anti-inflammatory effects may further improve type 2 diabetes and reduce risk of developing cancer or other chronic diseases.
The Conclusion on Monk Fruit
Overall, monk fruit extract can be a good choice for diabetics who are looking to sweeten up a meal or make a sweet treat.
It may seem like a little bit of extra work to hunt down suitable alternatives to sugar, but reducing carbs is one of the most important aspects of managing your condition over the long term.
Stevia is another good choice because like monk fruit, it contains no carbs, it doesn’t raise blood sugar, and research supports its effectiveness for diabetics – without any negative side effects.
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