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Plants with Benefits

Why Monk Fruit & Erythritol vs. Stevia


Long gone are the days of sugar vs no sugar vs artificial sweeteners. All three choices really left something to be desired. Sugar is tasty but unhealthy, no sugar is no fun and artificial sweeteners are toxic. These days we have a laundry list of sugar options to choose from in all the foods and drinks we enjoy. Honey, agave, xylitol, stevia, monk fruit, cane sugar, raw sugar, erythritol and more can be found on ingredient labels everywhere.

What do they all mean though?

Just like food, not all sweeteners are created equal—some come with some unsavory side effects, some are not sourced ethically, and the list goes on. Read on to explore the main alternative sweeteners found in bottled beverages—monk fruit, erythritol, and stevia—and discuss the pros and cons around each of these sweeteners.

What Is Monk Fruit

When most people hear monk fruit these days, they think of sugar, or at least a form of sweetener. Monk fruit is actually a type of gourd fruit called luo han guo, and is named after the Chinese Luo Han monks who discovered them! The fruit is about the size of an orange and contains naturally occurring compounds that can taste up to three hundred times as sweet as cane sugar! Despite it’s exciting taste, luo han guo contains zero calories and zero sugar. This is what makes monk fruit a great addition to food and drinks that need a bit of sweetness, without the unwanted calories or sugar.

Benefits of Monk Fruit

The main pro of monk fruit is that it contains zero sugar, and zero calories. The benefits don’t end there, though. Monk fruit contains a molecule called mogroside, which is responsible for the sweetness found in monk fruit and makes up about 30% of the fruit. These mogrosides contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, helping to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation that can correlate to rapid aging, dis-ease, and more. [1] In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), monk fruit has been used as a yin deficiency tonic. It’s considered to be heavy and moist in nature, and is used as an aid to nourish and/or moisten the kidneys, liver, lungs and stomach. 

- Zero sugar
- Zero calories
- Antioxidant effects & anti-inflammatory properties
- Used in TCM for yin deficiency

    What Is Erythritol

    Erythritol is another popular, zero sugar sweetener found in many natural and organic foods and drinks. It contains less than 0.3 calories per gram, which is why it’s able to show up as zero calorie on nutrition labels. Erythritol is commonly produced through fermentation of plants, and is an FDA-approved sweetener considered GRAS (generally recognized as safe). Erythritol is also found naturally in a few foods like grapes and watermelon! 

    Benefits of Erythritol

    A great finding about erythritol is that it doesn’t spike glucose levels in the way that cane sugar or many other sweeteners do. [2] This is especially great news for diabetic consumers who need to closely and regularly monitor their blood sugar levels. One of the best things about erythritol is its taste! Many sweetener replacements leave an unpleasant aftertaste, whereas erythritol tastes very similar to cane sugar. This is great for both consumers and producers, requiring less ingredients to help mask or assist in the flavor of the sweetener.

    - Zero sugar
    - Less than 0.3 calories per gram
    - Closely mimics the taste of cane sugar
    - Reduces glucose spikes

      What is Stevia

      Stevia is the old school, zero sugar sweetener that has been popular since its approval by the FDA in 2008. It’s derived from the stevia plant that grows mostly in South America. It tastes between two hundred and three hundred times sweeter than cane sugar, and can be found in powder, liquid and granulated form.

      Benefits of Stevia 

      Like monk fruit and erythritol, stevia is used and praised for its zero sugar, zero calorie count. However, it does leave a less than exciting aftertaste. Similar to erythritol, stevia is beneficial for helping the body tolerate glucose. [3] Because of this, it can also help reduce sugar cravings both immediately after consumption and throughout the day. [4] While the benefits are similar among the zero calorie sweeteners, the aftertaste that stevia comes with is a hurdle many food and drink manufacturers have yet to overcome.

      - Zero sugar
      - Aids in glucose tolerance
      - Reduces sugar cravings