Lifestyle

Monk Fruit Sweetener: A Diabetic’s Saving Grace?

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When you have diabetes, all your favorite stuff in your diet has been eliminated from your menu, especially cakes, cookies, pies, and ice cream… how frustrating! So what is a diabetic to do when that sweet tooth is craving some sugar?

Of all the sweeteners on the market today, plain white sugar is the most commonly used, but it has a bad reputation. However, many replacement sweeteners are just as bad, if not worse, than plain white sugar. A report from medicaldaily.com claims that even one artificially-sweetened beverage per day could significantly increase the risk for health problems.

Now comes Monk Fruit. This small fruit, rarely seen in the wild anymore, grows on a vine much like melons, and it’s native to Thailand and southern China. The sweetness comes from a compound called mogroside. It’s claimed that mogrosides actually lower blood sugar levels in the body. When picked, Monk Fruit begins to ferment rapidly, developing some very unpleasant flavors. Rapid drying salvages the fruit and gets rid of most of the unpleasant flavors, but not all. This has restricted its use. Some people only employ it as a possible treatment of colds, sore throats, and lung congestion, usually in a tea infusion.

monk

Photo: Facebook/Lakanto

Because of the extreme sweetness, in 1965 researchers at Proctor and Gamble developed a process to remove the undesired flavors and produce a puree that could be used in food processing. Since then, other companies have followed suit, developing extracts from Monk Fruit.

This unbelievable substitute for sugar won’t raise blood sugar levels. In the pure and powdered form, it contains no calories, and there aren’t any known negative side effects. According to Keri Glassman, M.S., R.D.N., its glycemic index is measured at zero. However, remember that even though you can use a sugar substitute, consuming anything sweet can add to a craving for sugars.

blood

Photo: Pixabay.com

It’s claimed that mogrosides have a significant antioxidant list of beneficial properties. In particular, they’re said by some to protect the pancreas and help restore and improve normal insulin secretion functions. There are even claims that they might reverse the damage from free radicals, especially in Type 2 diabetics. Whether or not there’s any validity to these claims is best left to your own research and decisions.

Monk Fruit is used in a small number of products. It’s available as a replacement sweetener for sugar and sugar substitutes, but always read the label for sneakily added ingredients in products, looking for dextrose, erythritol, or molasses. These are hidden “no-no’s” for diabetics.

monk 2

Photo: Facebook/Emily Shatters

For diabetics, this particular sweetener might be a Godsend. Carbs have a huge influence on blood sugar and A1c levels, which makes Monk Fruit perhaps the perfect substitute. Other sugar substitutes, such as Agave syrup and coconut sugar, don’t benefit a diabetic. They contain carbs and fructose, which are linked to weight gain, liver fat, and inflammation that lowers blood sugar levels in the body.

It can be a little difficult to find, but some stores are now carrying products sweetened with Monk Fruit. The possible benefits just might be well worth the extra time and effort, especially for the person whose world has been turned upside down with a diabetes diagnosis.

As always, please be aware that each of us reacts differently to medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements. The information contained here may not work for everyone, so pay attention to your body and always notify your doctor of any changes or additions to your diet.  No product or medicine is perfect for everybody.