Over time, people are becoming more aware of the dangers that processed foods and carb-rich foods impose on their health.
But does this precautionary and preventive lifestyle rob us of the opportunity to savor delicious (and sweet) foods? Certainly not! Thankfully, we have better and safer alternatives that serve to do the same, if not a better job at that!
One such controversial yet popular ingredient is sugar. Sugar is a carbohydrate (sucrose) that can increase blood glucose levels and also contribute significantly towards the development of obesity, heart diseases, and diabetes. 
Therefore, people commonly opt for white sugar substitutes, like stevia, brown sugar, or monk fruit sweetener.
The monk fruit sweetener is a popular sugar substitute that has slowly gained popularity among people. In this article, we’ll explore everything you need to know about monk fruit sweetener and whether it is beneficial or detrimental to your health!
What is Monk Fruit?
The monk fruit or ‘Luo Han Guo’ is a round, melon-like fruit that is typically grown and cultivated across Southeast Asia.
As its name suggests, it is popularly known as the ‘Buddha’s fruit’ and has been making its way into traditional Chinese medicine making for centuries. 
Recently, the monk fruit was accepted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to be a safe sweetener.
Even though the monk fruit is rich in natural sugars such as fructose and glucose, they are only partly responsible for the sweet taste of this fruit. The rest of the sweetness of the monk fruit comes from ‘mogrosides’, which are antioxidants unique to the fruit only. These compounds make the monk fruit sweetener twice as sweet as normal sugar! 
When the monk fruit sweetener is being prepared, the seeds and the skin of the fruit are first removed. The juices left behind are processed and dried before being sent to malls and markets for sale.
The left-over sugar essence of the monk fruit is so sweet that often other naturally occurring sugar alcohols, such as erythritol or inulin, need to be added to reduce the sweetness of the mixture. The final product can be used as an added sugar alternative.
The Benefits of Using Monk Fruit Sugar
The FDA has approved the use of monk fruit sweeteners for all age groups. Let us explore the benefits of using monk fruit sweetener in place of regular sugar:
- It Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Monk fruit sweetener is not only beneficial as a sugar replacement but also as an important anti-inflammatory product too! Research has revealed that the mogrosides included in the monk fruit sugar help relieve the scratchiness in sore throats and prevent or reduce the risk of some cancers in the long term. 
- It Has Zero Calories
The fact that monk fruit sweetener offers that bliss of sweetness for zero calories makes it perfect for weight-conscious people. This means that you can enjoy a soothing cup of tea or coffee without worrying about consuming too many calories! ! 
- It May Help Tone Down Diabetes
Unlike normal sugar, which instantly triggers insulin release upon reaching our bloodstream, monk fruit sugar does not do that. It is a natural sweetener, which means that it stabilizes blood glucose levels, and prevents unwanted blood glucose level spikes that come with consuming conventional sugar. 
As a result, it may be a viable choice for diabetics. In fact, monk fruit extract has been shown to lower blood sugar levels in diabetic mice in studies. The extract reduced oxidative stress and blood sugar levels in mice, as well as increasing HDL (good) cholesterol levels.  
The potential of mogrosides to increase insulin production in insulin cells may explain some of these advantages. 
- It Helps Fight Infections
Another wonderful benefit of monk fruit sweetener is that it helps fight off infections via its antimicrobial properties. It promotes the growth of friendly and helpful bacteria in the gut such as B. bifidum, L. salivarius, and L. acidophilus. This growth helps maintain the healthy balance of bacterial flora in the gut. 
- It Has Anti-Allergic Properties
Human beings have an inbuilt system that responds to allergic triggers. This system comprises of mast cells and helps tone down the histamine levels in the body. This reduces the allergic response of the body. The same anti-allergic response was noted with monk fruit sugar!
This possibly makes it a beneficial ingredient for those who suffer from seasonal allergies.
- It Has Antioxidant Properties
Mogroside extracts have antioxidant properties since they reduce DNA damage by inhibiting specific damaging chemicals. 
- It Has Anticancer Properties
Monk fruit extract seems to suppress cancer cell development in both animals and test tubes experiments. The mogrosides were shown to inhibit the development of leukemia cells in one research.  Another study found that it has potent inhibitory effects on skin cancers in mice.  Nevertheless, more human research is required to confirm these benefits.
Does Monk Fruit Sugar Help In Losing Weight?
Sugar is well-known as the culprit of weight gain. However, the opposite case is true for monk fruit sugar.
This is because monk fruit sweetener contains zero calories and zero carbs, as these have been eliminated during the manufacturing process. Hence, if you’re keen on shedding pounds, replacing conventional table sugar with monk fruit sweetener could prove beneficial.
A person who normally consumes sugar may decrease their calorie intake by substituting monk fruit sweeteners for sugar. For instance, with their morning coffee or with oats for breakfast. Monk fruit sweeteners may also be used to make low-calorie snacks and desserts. 
Moreover, another recently published study showed that the mogrosides present in monk fruit sweeteners were capable of inhibiting the maturation of pre-fat cells into fat cells, preventing obesity and fat build-up in a person. 
Nevertheless, the benefits of using monk fruit sweetener to replace conventional sugar can be easily offset with unhealthy eating patterns.
Is Monk Fruit Sweetener a Suitable Alternative For Diabetics?
Non-nutritive sweeteners, such as monk fruit sweetener, may help cut down on total added sugar consumption. Nevertheless, these sweeteners may not adequately demonstrate a significant reduction in blood sugar levels on their own, as research investigations have indicated.
More study is needed to determine if monk fruit extract may assist people with diabetes improve their results.
Instead of normal sugar, many diabetics choose to utilize non-nutritive sweeteners. From a safety perspective, this is reasonable and appropriate.
In spite of this, diabetics should still pay attention to the overall carbohydrate level of their meals. Blood sugar levels may still be raised by baked products using monk fruit sweeteners. This is because of the carbohydrate content of wheat, fruit, and other ingredients .
The Downsides of Using Monk Fruit Sweetener
Let us explore the possible side effects and downsides of using this zero-calorie, natural sweetener!
- It May Cause Bloating:
Earlier we learned that sugar alcohol is often added to reduce the sweet taste of monk fruit sugar. However, this sugar alcohol can also trigger bloating and cramping in some people.
- It May Cause You To Overeat:
Since it is a zero-calorie sweetener, it might not satiate your cravings completely! As a result, some people who use sweeteners to replace normal sugar may end up offsetting any calorie deficit by turning to other sugary snacks and desserts laden with calories.
- It Might Trigger Allergies:
There have been claims faulting monk fruit sugar for triggering allergic reactions. Nevertheless, more research is warranted to confirm these claims.
The Bottom Line – Is Monk Fruit Sweetener Healthy or Harmful?
From the above-mentioned claims and evidence, it appears that there are no significant side effects associated with consuming monk fruit sugar. Although there have been some reports of it causing bloating in some people, monk fruit sweetener has yet to be outrightly associated with any severe or life-threatening side effects.
Therefore, the pros of utilizing monk fruit sweeteners` seem to outweigh the cons, though monk fruit should still be consumed in moderation despite its benefits!
Disclaimer: This article is only a guide. It does not substitute the advice given by your own healthcare professional. Before making any health-related decision, consult your healthcare professional.