If understanding all the different types of sweeteners wasn’t confusing enough, there’s a new kid on the sweetener shelf. Monk fruit, also known as luo han guo or luo han fruit, is a plant native to China with a very sweet flesh that can also be used as as a sweetener when its juice is concentrated and dried into a powder.
Food manufacturers like monk fruit because it’s low in calories and naturally derived – the holy grail of sweeteners. The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has declared monk fruit as generally recognized as safe, so it’s approved for use in foods. It’s also marketed as a dry sweetener (look in the sugar aisle) for use in your favorite recipes.
Low or no-calorie sweeteners are commonly used to reduce caloric intake, but research finds they might contribute to weight gain. The exact reason is unknown, but theories include increased hunger signals, compensatory eating and altered taste perception (other foods seem less sweet).
While alternative sweeteners have a place, at SAGE, we focus on the use of whole foods and real sugar for sweetness. We also offer a variety of foods so that individuals can make their own decisions. What do you think about this new sweetener? Would you try it?