Natural sweeteners are becoming more popular as people search for healthier options to traditional sugar. Gone are the days of limited chemical options like Sweet N' Low, Equal, and Splenda. As more and more people look to take better care of their health have a growing interest in alternative diets, the availability of natural alternative sweeteners has become more commonplace even outside of specialty markets. However, it poses another problem — which alternative sweetener is best for you? Monk fruit and Stevia are two of the most popular natural alternative sweeteners on the market and both have their own sets of pros and cons. Below we've highlighted some of the pros and cons of both sweeteners so that you can make the choice for yourself, no matter what your health needs may be.
What Is Monkfruit Sweetener?Monkfruit is known as Luo Han Guo in China and certain parts of Thailand. It is a small green gourd that resembles a melon. Monkfruit sweetener is a natural zero-calorie sweetener that is extracted from monkfruits. Its sweetness comes from mogrosides, a compound that’s metabolized differently from the sugars in the human body. Mogrosides are 100-250 times sweeter than traditional sugar and are often mixed together with other natural products like erythritol to help reduce the intensity of the sweetness. Monk fruit extract has become more readily available which is what has boosted its popularity as a standalone sweetener in foods, drinks, and sweetener blends.
What Are The Benefits of Monkfruit Sweetener?
- Zero sugar: This is perfect for people with diabetes or those watching their weight as Monkfruit doesn’t contain sugar.
- Zero carbohydrates: It’s also low on carbohydrates making it helpful for people with diet restrictions.
- More choices: Available in a variety of forms — granules, powders, and liquids — the sweetener can easily be used for baking, cooking, and preparing drinks.
- High in antioxidants: Mogrosides, the compound that gives Monkfruit its sweetness, has antioxidant properties.
- No side effects: Monkfruit in processed form is FDA-approved, which means no side effects will come from using it for your food preparations.
What Are The Disadvantages of Monkfruit Sweetener?
- Pricey: Because monk fruit can only be grown in some areas of the world, the cost of export may be expensive.
- Different taste than sugar: According to some, monk fruit tastes different than the traditional table sugar. It also leaves a bit of an aftertaste.
- Other sugars: To balance the taste of monk fruit, other manufacturers use added sugars like maltodextrin and dextrose. To make sure your monk fruit sweetener is really sugar-free, always check the label.
What Is Stevia Extract?Compared to monk fruit, Stevia is the more well-known, being one of the most available sugar alternatives in supermarkets and even an option at Starbucks. Stevia extract comes from a shrub native to North and South America. One of its compounds, glycosides, give it a taste almost 300 times sweeter than the regular table sugar.Oftentimes you can find stevia extract in a variety of forms, and often blended together with erythritol to create natural sweeteners and syrups that are zero calories and safe for diabetics.
What Are The Benefits of Stevia?
- High in antioxidants: This sweetener has antioxidant properties, which are good for your liver, skin, and overall physiological health.
- No calories: Stevia contains no calories, so if you’re trying to lose weight, this sweetener is perfect for you.
- Keeps you full for longer: Not only will Stevia satisfy your sweet tooth, but it will also improve satiety and reduce hunger.
- Versatile: Due to its formulation, Stevia can be used for hot and cold beverages, baking, and cooking. It does not caramelize, but apart from crème brûlée, you can enjoy other desserts with Stevia.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Stevia?
- Stomachache: One of the reported side effects of Stevia is a stomachache. The sweetener is not easily absorbed by the cells, so they stay in your gut and draw water there. This will cause bloating, nausea, and stomach cramps.
- Can interact with your medications: Stevia is not advisable for people taking maintenance medications for diabetes as it can cause hypotension and hypoglycemia, or abnormally low sugar levels.
- Aftertaste: Although very sweet, Stevia can still leave a bitter aftertaste similar to licorice.