Monk fruit sweetener is gaining popularity in America and has an 800-year past history of use as an antioxidant in traditional Chinese medicine, especially for healing coughs and colds. Before you rush out and buy any new sweetener, first find out how your blood glucose level and other metabolic reactions respond to the fructose and mogrosides that occur naturally in the monk fruit plant, now introduced to the USA as a sweetener.
You can buy the sweetener at most Sacramento mainstream supermarkets and in some local health food stores and food stores as well as at various natural food markets. The product mostly is found nationwide in supermarkets since this week the makers of SPLENDA® sweeteners launched their newest sweetener this week- NECTRESSE™ Natural No Calorie Sweetener, which contains monk fruit and other natural sweeteners. But please be aware of the definition of natural when it comes to any food product. The word ‘natural’ should not be confused with unprocessed. The word refers to the origin of the plant, which is a fruit.
Do you want a sweetener that’s high in fructose and carbs like many fruits? Monk fruit is 25% to 38% carbohydrate–mainly fructose and glucose. You also can find a plant-based sweetener that has no fructose or glucose, such as stevia. Then again, apples also are high in fructose, but apples have fiber.
What’s the aim of food technology?
Consumers want above all to find an affordable no-calorie sweetener that tastes as good as sugar, has no bitter aftertaste, and can be marketed as “natural” because it’s extracted from plants. Examples: Stevia extracted from leaves or Monk fruit sweetener. The problem is non of these sweeteners are pressed from the plant without having to go through chemical processing steps to extract the sweetness from the leaf.
Unless you grow a stevia plant in your yard and puree the leaves into a sweet pulp then drain it through a cheesecloth without heating it or adding chemicals, you don’t have an unprocessed food. For example, stevia in a container is extracted from leaves using ethanol. But stevia plucked from the leaves in your garden can be pureed and strained in your blender using water, not ethanol to sweeten your desserts.
You were probably told by your health care professionals to cut down on fructose and glucose and to eat lower on the Glycemic Index. The key is how do you extract sweetness from a plant source without processing it with chemicals? It’s something you can do at home because you won’t be storing your sweetener on a shelf. When you buy sweeteners in processed foods, the products need a shelf life, for example, extracting flavors or sweetness in either oil carriers or ethanol, an alcohol.
Basically, food technology’s goal is to find a way to develop foods that are not chemically extracted, and only nature can do that by growing plants you pick and use immediately, without the chemical steps to process the foods.
The current fad of sweeteners being taken up by industry is monk fruit. Check out the site where you can read a collection of articles on Monk fruit sweetener. For more articles on this topic, click here. Early in the 20th century monk fruit came to America as an herb, used also in traditional Chinese medicine, and in the past sold in San Francisco Chinese herbal stores. It’s also used in New Zealand as a sweetener.
Presently, you have more huge companies using monk fruit as a sweetener that stevia. Read more articles on this topic. Check out the site, Monk fruit sweetener attracting most interest in dairy and beverages.
Monk fruit is classified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a generally recognized as safe (GRAS) product, with no restrictions on consuming the fruit or its extracts, according to an FDA Letter. You can read the FDA’s PDF article on the effects of monk fruit extract on blood glucose, for example at that site in the FDA article.
Also, look at the labels of any monk fruit sweetener or product to find out whether the monk fruit extract is combined with natural glycosides from other food sources to make any given food even sweeter. Monk fruit by itself is mainly made of fructose and mogrosides.
Check out the Food Politics site for May 30, 2012. There’s an excellent article by Marion Nestle, “Currently browsing posts about: Natural, Stevia and other “natural” sweeteners: are they? The newest sweetener on the block that has been growing more popular with the larger food companies is monk fruit. According to the Agricare site, monk fruit is both a medicinal herb traditionally used in Chinese medicine to lower the blood sugar.
The herb’s Chinese name is Luohanguo. The sweetness of this fruit is due to the presence of a chemical in the fruit’s pulp known as mogroside which is 300 times sweater than sugar. The pulp of monk fruit contains around 1% mogroside making it the sweetest fruit on earth.
In traditional Chinese medicine, monk fruit is used to help with coughs and lung congestion by steeping it in tea. But as far as a general sweetener for most foods, the fruit has only become popular in China in recent history.
The herb came to the US in the early 20th century. Development of luohanguo products in China, though, has grown steadily since that time, particularly with the more recent development of highly concentrated extracts for use as sweeteners. Popular use of monk fruit as a sweetener in China is more recent than it’s historical use in traditional Chinese medicine as a healing herb.
You may want to read the book, Luo Han Guo – Institute for Traditional Medicine. Or check out the study or its abstract, Shi H, et al., Antioxidant property of fructus momordicae extract, 1996. Biochemistry and Molecular Biology International 1996; 40 (6): 1111-1121. And see the the study, Antileukemic Potential of Momordica charantia Seed Extracts on Human Myeloid Leukemic HL60 Cells. Also see the article on the site, FoodNavigator-USA.com where you can read its special edition, “Where next for natural sweeteners?”
The makers of SPLENDA® Sweeteners launched their newest sweetener this week- NECTRESSE™ Natural No Calorie Sweetener. There’s a new, all natural sweetener hitting shelves this week from the makers of SPLENDA®. The latest product is monk fruit. The huge company’s sweeteners are going natural with the launch of its newest product – NECTRESSE™ Natural No Calorie Sweetener.
NECTRESSE™ is the only 100% natural, zero calorie sweetener made from the goodness of real fruit. Pronounced Neck-TRESS, the new product derives its natural sweetness from the monk fruit, a small green melon that has been cultivated in Asia for hundreds of years. Monk fruit extract is combined with the perfect blend of other natural sweeteners to bring consumers the rich sweet taste of sugar without all the calories via NECTRESSETM Natural No Calorie Sweetener.
The definition of natural doesn’t mean it’s not processed with other sweeteners and doesn’t mean that it’s organic. Natural also doesn’t mean that chemicals weren’t used to extract the monk fruit from a fruit into granulated or powdered form and put it into a box. Natural means it is naturally sweet and comes from a fruit, not that it is unheated and unprocessed.
You can cook and bake with NECTRESSETM Sweetener. It dissolves quickly and naturally sweetens so it can be used in place of sugar in your favorite beverages and a delicious variety of foods, according to the company’s current news release. But before you buy a sweetener of any type, always find out all the ingredients in any given brand of sweetener. It’s important to find out how your body responds not only to the particular fruit, but also to anything else packaged with the sweetener.
You want to know how the sweetness was extracted and processed in order to be put in a container and stored on a shelf. What happened to the plant in order for it to go from leaves to powder or granulated forms? What’s the sweetener’s shelf life?
Remember two points. Find out what processes and which chemicals, if any, any plant-based product has been extracted with. And secondly, what other sweeteners are combined with that product, if any and how have they been processed. Most of all, you need to know in the long term how your body metabolically responds to any sweetener. You need to know how much fructose and how much sucrose you’re getting, if any, from any given sweetener.
You have a choice of sweeteners as to whether they contain any carbs
You can find out how much fructose and sucrose you’re getting in any given sweetener. Remember that fruit contains a percentage of fructose and sucrose in a balance put there by nature. Some fruits have more fructose than others.
Know what other ingredients are in your sweetener and find out how the processing of the fruit took place and what other ingredients were added to extract the final product. When you buy any sweetener, remember that you didn’t pull a plant from the ground or off of a tree with your own hand. So you need to know first how your individual body responds to any given sweetener or other product, including supplements as well as processed foods. Also, check out the video with Lisa Ling on the NECTRESSE™ media website.
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