Monk Fruit: Health Benefits, Ways To Eat & Side Effects 2023

Alexandra Gregg

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Melissa Mitri, MS, RD

monk fruit benefits

If you’ve been l looking for a more natural way to sweeten your foods, you most likely have run into monk fruit sweeteners. It has become the latest popular trend amongst the health and sugar conscious as an alternative way to sweeten your food without the harmful side effects of sugar and sugar substitutes.  

With all its popularity, you might be curious about monk fruit sweetener benefits. The Food and Drug Administration has deemed monk fruit as generally safe[1]. It is even considered a safe sweetener for pregnant women and young children. 

In addition to its sweet taste, monk fruit sugar has multiple possible health benefits, including anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties as well as weight loss promotion.

Read on to learn about monk fruit benefits and how to eat this new sweetener on the block.

Impressive Health Benefits Of Monk Fruit

  1. Anti-inflammatory properties
  2. Aid weight loss
  3. Anti-cancer properties
  4. Improve gut health

Nutrition Facts

Serving size: Monk fruit sugar substitute 1 tsp (0.5 grams)

Nutrition Information[2] provided by the United States Department of Agriculture

  • Calories:
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrate: 0.5 grams
  • Fiber: 0 grams
  • Sugars: 0 grams 

Health Benefits Of Monk Fruit

So, where does monk fruit[3] come from? Most often, this small green melon fruit is found in southern China. It has been used in Chinese Medicine for centuries. Lately, it has become popular due to its use as a  sweetener when extracted from dried fruit.  

There are many reasons why monk fruit is better for some people than sugar. First, the extract is much sweeter than table sugar and contains no calories or carbohydrates. Thus, it is a great sugar substitute for people with diabetes as it has not been seen to raise blood sugar[4].

Lastly, monk fruit sweeteners have no known side effects and thus is a safe, natural sugar substitute to add to foods.

Monk fruit sugar has also been used in traditional Chinese medicine because of its fantastic health benefits.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

The monk fruit contains potent natural compounds called mogrosides. These compounds are powerful antioxidants[5]. Antioxidants are essential to your health as they fight off free radicals that can cause damage to your cells. Too many free radicals in your system can lead to chronic inflammation, resulting in heart disease, arthritis, cancer, digestive disorders, and diabetes.  

Aid Weight Loss

Monk fruit sugar is an excellent sugar alternative to regular table sugar if you are trying to lose a few pounds. As mentioned before, monk fruit has zero calories and carbohydrates; therefore, if you consume a lot of sugar now, you can save lots of calories by switching to monk fruit sweetener. 

Also, as noted before, monk fruit sugar will not impact blood sugar levels, which further helps support hormone levels and a healthy weight.

However, remember that there are better weight loss plans than switching sugar to an artificial sweetener or another low-calorie sweetener. Even though these zero-calorie sweeteners will not raise your blood sugar, and do not contain any calories, studies[6] have shown that artificial sweeteners can sometimes make you gain weight. 

This is because they build sugar cravings that can result in the need to continually consume sweetened foods, leading to weight gain because of a dependence on sweet-tasting foods.  

Therefore, if you are looking for lasting weight loss strategies, focus on consuming more fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, and whole grains and making exercise a priority. Don’t rely on sweeteners alone as a single solution for weight loss. 

Anti-Cancer Properties

Keep in mind that monk fruit is very new on the market, and thus there are not very many confirming studies at this time stating that monk fruit sugar can prevent cancer. 

With that being said, one study completed in 2016 showed monk fruit extract could suppress both esophageal and colorectal cancer. As a result, researchers of the study were cautiously optimistic that a monk fruit supplement might be a future complement to traditional cancer treatments.

Improve Gut Health

Preliminary studies show that monk fruit sweeteners may positively affect the gut microbiome. Your gut microbiome is the ecosystem in your intestines that houses millions of good and bad bacteria. In a healthy body, there is a perfect balance of good and bad bacteria.  

However, if there is an imbalance[7] of these bacteria caused by illness, infection, diet, medications, etc., this can cause an array of issues such as 

  • Bloating
  • Diarrhea
  • Bowel diseases such as irritable or inflammatory bowel
  • Cancer
  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Diabetes
  • Nervous system disorders 

Consuming monk fruit may be able to help improve gut microbiota. For example, a study[8] completed in 2020 investigated the effects of mice microbiomes when fed yogurt sweetened with monk fruit extract versus rats who were fed yogurt sweetened with sucrose. 

The rats fed the monk fruit extract had better blood sugar control and less insulin resistance than the mice who were fed sucrose. The monk fruit rats also had a more balanced gut microbiota than the other group.  

Interestingly, liver and kidney damage significantly improved in the rats fed monk fruit. The reason why this occurred is unclear, but researchers question whether the improved microbiota of the gut was the reason.

Potential Downsides

Many people ask if monk fruit is bad for you. Even though monk fruit extract has many benefits, including being a natural sweetener, you should consider a few potential side effects[9] before consuming this sweetener.

Digestive Issues

Lastly, make sure to read the nutritional facts label on monk fruit sweeteners. Other manufacturers tend to mix other sweeteners with monk fruit to decrease costs and make it more shelf-stable. Sometimes, despite being labeled as “pure monk fruit,” products may also contain sugar alcohols that cause digestive upset[10], including bloating and indigestion. 

Allergies

Allergic reactions can occur at any point in a person’s life. Therefore, although monk fruit allergies are relatively rare, they can occur. In addition, monk fruit is most closely related and a member[11] of the gourd family. Therefore, if you have any allergies to cucumber, pumpkin, squash, or zucchini, be aware that your risk of having an allergy to monk fruit is elevated as it is a member of the same family.  

The signs of an allergic reaction include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Hives
  • Rash
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Stomach pain
  • Swelling of the tongue, lips, and throat
  • Vomiting
  • Wheezing

Call your local medical emergency provider if you experience any of these symptoms.

Taste

In addition, the taste of monk fruit has a bit of a bitter taste when compared to sugar or other sugar substitutes. However, it is recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration with no side effects reported.  

Price

Monk fruit sugar can be expensive. Fresh Monk fruit is only grown in certain parts of the world, and this round fruit can become rancid fast after harvest. Since it is difficult to grow and harvest, plus it’s found across the globe, it tends to be pricier than other low-calorie sweeteners that you’ll find. 

Nonnutritive Sweeteners

It is still best to consume monk fruit in moderation, as it does not provide any nutritional value. Use monk fruit for special occasions or restraint as it is considered a nonnutritive sweetener. Nonnutritive means it carries no nutritional value[12].  

Even though monk fruit sweetener is a great way to lower your sugar intake, a better way to decrease body weight is to focus on eating a healthy diet when trying to lose weight. Concentrating on consuming lots of fruits and vegetables will give you a multitude of nutrients that your body needs to reach optimal health.  

How To Eat Monk Fruit?

Monk fruits are much sweeter to your taste buds than table sugar. Due to this, make sure to read the labeling on the package, as you might need less than a 1:1 ratio when swapping monk fruit out for table sugar in baked goods.  

Also, monk fruit has a very short shelf life. So be sure to check out the sell-by date, choose one with the longest shelf life possible, and use the product as soon as possible to prevent it from going bad.  

The sweetener comes in liquid and concentrated powder form and can be added to a multitude of foods to enrich its sweetness, such as 

  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Lemonade
  • Smoothies
  • Sauces
  • Salad Dressings
  • Yogurt
  • Oatmeal or other hot cereals

The Bottom Line: Is Monk Fruit Good For You?

The complete health impact of monk fruit needs to be explored through further research. However, it appears to be an excellent choice for people who want to lose weight or limit dietary sugar. Even though the fruit has some exciting potentials, such as anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer abilities, further research is still needed.

If you are interested in trying monk fruit, it is generally considered safe[9] per the Food and Drug Administration, but you still shouldn’t overdo it. Monk fruit isn’t a magic bullet that will make you healthy but is a solid no-calorie option to curb your sweet tooth. 

Monk fruit sugar also does not affect blood sugar or blood glucose levels like some other sweetener blends. 

If you want to lose weight, it’s best to do so by eating a variety of whole, clean foods with various nutrients, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. This balanced way of eating will help your entire body function more effectively and help you lose some pounds around your waistline.


+ 12 sources

Health Canal avoids using tertiary references. We have strict sourcing guidelines and rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic researches from medical associations and institutions. To ensure the accuracy of articles in Health Canal, you can read more about the editorial process here

  1. Center (2020). Additional Information about High-Intensity Sweeteners. [online] U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Available at: https://www.fda.gov/food/food-additives-petitions/additional-information-about-high-intensity-sweeteners-permitted-use-food-united-states.
  2. Usda.gov. (2022). FoodData Central. [online] Available at: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/2345826/nutrients.
  3. Arun Kumar Pandey and Om Prakash Chauhan (2020). Monk fruit (Siraitia grosvenorii) – health aspects and food applications. [online] ResearchGate. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/339106844_Monk_fruit_Siraitia_grosvenorii_-_health_aspects_and_food_applications.
  4. Zhou, G., Zhang, Y., Li, Y., Wang, M. and Li, X. (2018). The metabolism of a natural product mogroside V, in healthy and type 2 diabetic rats. Journal of Chromatography B, [online] 1079, pp.25–33. doi:10.1016/j.jchromb.2018.02.002.
  5. ACS Publications. (2015). Anti-inflammatory Activities of Mogrosides from Momordica grosvenori in Murine Macrophages and a Murine Ear Edema Model. [online] Available at: https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/jf201207m.
  6. Yang, Q. (2010). Gain weight by ‘going diet?’ Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings: Neuroscience 2010. The Yale journal of biology and medicine, [online] 83(2), pp.101–8. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2892765/.
  7. Belizário, J.E. and Faintuch, J. (2018). Microbiome and Gut Dysbiosis. Experientia Supplementum, [online] pp.459–476. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-74932-7_13.
  8. Ban, Qingfeng, et al. “Effects of a Synbiotic Yogurt Using Monk Fruit Extract as Sweetener on Glucose Regulation and Gut Microbiota in Rats with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus.” Journal of Dairy Science, vol. 103, no. 4, Apr. 2020, pp. 2956–2968, 10.3168/jds.2019-17700.
  9. Younes, M., Aquilina, G., Engel, K., Fowler, P., Frutos Fernandez, M.J., Fürst, P., Gürtler, R., Gundert‐Remy, U., Husøy, T., Mennes, W., Moldeus, P., Oskarsson, A., Shah, R., Waalkens‐Berendsen, I., Wölfle, D., Degen, G., Herman, L., Gott, D., Leblanc, J. and Giarola, A. (2019). Safety of use of Monk fruit extract as a food additive in different food categories. EFSA Journal, [online] 17(12). doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2019.5921.
  10. Gelsomin, E. (2020). Are sugar substitutes too sweet to be true? – Harvard Health. [online] Harvard Health. Available at: https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/are-sugar-substitutes-too-sweet-to-be-true-2020050419692.
  11. Herbalgram.org. (2014). Luo Han Guo (Monk Fruit) – American Botanical Council. [online] Available at: https://www.herbalgram.org/resources/herbalgram/issues/103/table-of-contents/hg103-herbpro-monk/.
  12. Lohner, S., Toews, I. and Meerpohl, J.J. (2017). Health outcomes of non-nutritive sweeteners: analysis of the research landscape. Nutrition Journal, [online] 16(1). doi:10.1186/s12937-017-0278-x.
Alexandra Gregg

Medically reviewed by:

Melissa Mitri

Alexandra Gregg is a registered and licensed dietitian with a private practice in Kansas City, Missouri. After studying Nutrition and Dietetics at Northwest Missouri State she completed her Dietetic Internship at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine in Rochester, MN. Following her dietetic internship, Allie worked at Mayo Clinic in a variety of areas including nutrition support, geriatrics, neonatology, and pediatrics. In addition, she was a regular presenter at Mayo Clinic conferences and an educator for dietetic interns.

Medically reviewed by:

Melissa Mitri

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