As a low carb keto dieter, you’re already well aware that sugar is a huge no-no. Even the smallest amount of added sugar in the diet can throw you out of ketosis.
The idea is to limit your carb content and avoid refined sugar as much as possible in order to make your body burn fat for fuel instead of any carbs you may have consumed.
But sugar cravings can and do happen.
Rather than giving in to these temptations to indulging in a sugar-laden treat, there are plenty of foods and drinks that you can enjoy that are sweetened with sugar substitutes.
That way you can enjoy the sweetness of your treat without having to compromise your ketogenic state.
There are plenty of carb sweeteners out there, including monk fruit.
But what is monk fruit? Is it safe? And is it keto-friendly?
In this article, we’ll dive into what exactly monk fruit is, what foods you might find it in, and whether or not it’s appropriate for the keto diet.
What is Monk Fruit?
Monk fruit is a small melon that is native to China. It’s named after the monks who were the first to cultivate it.
In fact, the Chinese have been using monk fruit for centuries for medicinal purposes, but it has only gained prominence in the wellness sphere in the recent past.
More specifically, the sweetness of monk fruit has made this particular ingredient quite popular as a sugar substitute over recent years.
Monk fruit sweetener is made by extracting “mogrosides,” the plant’s chemicals.
It is derived from the dried fruit and is about 200 times sweeter than refined sugar.
It has got no calories or carbs, doesn’t increase blood sugar levels, and is completely natural, making it a popular sugar substitute for diabetics and those following a low-carb diet.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), monk fruit is considered safe for human consumption. That said, there haven’t really been many in-depth scientific studies conducted on it.
What Foods Contain Monk Fruit?
There are hundreds of food products that contain monk fruit. Here are just a few examples:
- Ice cream
- Almond milk
- Fruit bowls
- Zero-calorie sodas
Pros and Cons of Monk Fruit
There are plenty of benefits of monk fruit, including the following:
Keto-friendly. The main advantage of monk fruit is its lack of carbs and calories, making it a potentially ideal sugar substitute for the keto diet. People who are watching their carb and caloric intake may find monk fruit an easy way to enjoy their sweets without compromising their ketogenic state.
Safe for diabetics. Since monk fruit does not increase blood glucose levels, it is generally considered safe for diabetics. That said, it’s still important for those who suffer from diabetes to check labels of food and drink products that are sweetened with monk fruit because there could still be added sugars that should be avoided. Not all monk fruit products are necessarily sugar-free.
Anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that monk fruit may have anti-inflammatory properties. Monk fruit was used in ancient Chinese medicine to combat issues caused by inflammation. More specifically, it’s the mogrosides in the fruit that is apparently anti-inflammatory in nature, and when added to hot beverages, it may be used to alleviate pain associated with sore throats.
Antioxidant properties. Studies have shown that monk fruit may help to reduce free radical damage thanks to its antioxidant properties. It’s a well-known fact that consuming foods high in antioxidants can help to reduce damage done to the cells and tissues of the body. This is predominantly as a result of the mogrosides in the fruit.
Increases energy. Monk fruit may be linked to a reduction in fatigue, according to studies.
Anti-microbial properties. Monk fruit contains natural anti-microbial properties that may help prevent the growth of bacteria. This can help reduce the need for antibiotics, which can be problematic if taken too often.
While monk fruit may have its health benefits, there are a couple of minor drawbacks to it as well. For starters, some people find the aftertaste quite unpleasant.
That said, many sugar substitutes also tend to have an aftertaste that is not common with table sugar.
Further, pure monk fruit is usually pretty had to find.
And when you do find it on store shelves, there are usually very few options to choose from.
Monk fruit is also more expensive than traditional table sugar.
Food products that contain monk fruit often have added sugars. As such, these products can’t really be classified as low-sugar.
Monk fruit could also cause digestive upset if taken in large quantities.
As such, it’s important not to consume too much of it, especially if you’ve never eaten it before.
Finally, some people may suffer from allergies to monk fruit, though such allergies are considered to be very rare.
That said, allergic reactions to monk fruit may include the following:
- Skin rash
- Trouble breathing
- Weak pulse
- Swelling of the tongue or throat
- Abdominal pain
What Can You Add Monk Fruit to?
There are several ways to use monk fruit.
Basically, any foods or beverages that you would sweeten with sugar can be sweetened with monk fruit as a substitute.
Here are just a few foods and drinks that monk fruit can sweeten:
- Salad dressings
- Hot cereals
- Baked goods
Is Monk Fruit Keto-Friendly?
Because monk fruit is carb- and sugar-free and does not raise blood sugar levels, it’s considered to be a safe sugar substitute for the keto dieter.
This natural sweetener can be used to naturally sweeten all sorts of foods and beverages without compromising your state of ketosis.
Not only can it naturally sweeten your favorite foods without the sugar, carbs, or calories, it also offers a host of health benefits.
Just make sure that the products you buy that are sweetened with monk fruit don’t have any other added sugars that could be detrimental to your ketogenic lifestyle.