Sweetener, in general, has gotten itself quite a nasty reputation over the past few years and people are searching for alternatives that are safe and equally delicious. Whether you’re watching your waistline, insulin levels, attention span or all of the above, you still deserve a sweet treat every now and then.
Asking people to go without sweet treats is unrealistic and, frankly, not a way most people want to live their lives, healthy or not.
Monk fruit is becoming an increasingly popular sugar alternative for many great reasons. Because of its rise in popularity, there are a lot of monk fruit options and not all of them are created equal.
Which monk sweetener is the best? Technically, the best monk fruit sweetener is one that’s 100% monk fruit. Most monk fruit sweeteners are cut with other additive sweeteners (we’ll go into detail about that later). It has a unique taste that takes some getting used to, but monk fruit is definitely a great option if you want to add sweetness to your life without compromising health!
We’ve listed our top 7 favorites and given a detailed explanation as to what you can expect from a great monk fruit sweetener.
What Is Monk Fruit, And What Are The Benefits?
Monk fruit is also called “luo han guo” in honor of the luóhàn monks that originally cultivated the fruit. It’s a small green melon that is native to forests in northern Thailand and southern China. It’s been a part of ancient Chinese medicine for centuries, used mainly for respiratory issues.
When the west got a hold of this fruit it became much more revered for its sweetness. Up to 200 times sweeter than sugar and with no calories or carbs, this sweetener is making waves in our dessert obsessed culture.
And we’re loving every minute of it!
Most fruits get their sweetness from fructose and glucose, both which tend to wreak havoc on blood glucose levels and are linked to a wide variety of other problems. Monk fruit gets its flavor from mogrocide, which is actually an antioxidant.
Because the sweetness doesn’t come from sugar, the extract has no calories and no carbs and will not affect your blood glucose levels in any way. This is great news for diabetics…and anyone else who’s concerned about how sugar is affecting their health, which is almost everyone.
For anyone looking to lose weight or balance their blood sugar and energy levels, monk fruit sweeteners are a blessing. Your body doesn’t metabolize it like regular sugar, so you can enjoy a sweet treat without completely sabotaging your healthy eating plan.
The fact that it is an antioxidant means that your desserts could be helping to manage inflammation levels in your body and potentially even have anti-cancer results. Balance that against the fact that there are no known side effects and it might just be time to make some very strategic swaps in your cupboards and grocery lists.
The Best Monk Fruit Sweeteners
Now that you are well prepared for additional ingredients in your monk fruit sweetener, let’s look at some of the most popular options available today.
|1.||It's Just - 100% Monkfruit Extract Powder||Only pure monk fruit, non-GMO, strong|
|2.||Smart 138 Monk Drops||100% Monkfruit, liquid drops, concentrated|
|3.||Purisure Monk Fruit Extract||Monk fruit is only ingredient, organic|
|4.||NOW Foods Monk Fruit Liquid Organic||Organic, liquid extract|
|5.||Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetener||Erythritol mix, 1:1 sugar replacement|
|6.||Monk Fruit In The Raw Sweetener||Erythritol mix, no aftertaste|
|7.||ZenSweet- All Natural Monk Fruit Sugar-Free Sweetener||Chicory root mix, prebiotic, non-GMO|
|8.||All-Purpose Granular Monkfruit Sweetener (with Erythritol)||Erythritol mix, no aftertaste|
|9.||Namanna Monk Fruit Natural Sweetener||Non-GMO, erythritol mix|
1. It’s Just – 100% Monkfruit Extract Powder
This brand certainly lives up to its name. When It’s Just says it’s just monk fruit, that’s truly what they mean.
There’s only one ingredient listed on this package and it’s pure, non-GMO monk fruit extract.
Not only does their product make a healthier alternative to sugar, but it’s also a stronger sweetener than sugar and just a little bit goes a long way.
Be careful not to use too much, because this sweetener packs a punch! They include a conversion ratio for your convenience on the back of the package. The taste is very similar to sugar and you may not even notice the difference.
- 100% monk fruit, only 1 ingredient
- Highly concentrated so a little goes a long way
2. Smart138 Monk Drops Liquid Sweetener
Smart138 is so confident their product will knock your socks off that they’ve instated a no-questions-asked money-back guarantee. But trust us, you won’t be needing that refund.
This product is 100% monk fruit extract packed into a convenient bottle with a dropper. It’s so concentrated it doesn’t even have water listed in the ingredients.
The liquid dissolves easier than monk fruit powder and is likely to leave less of a mess on your countertop. However, it will need to be refrigerated to keep it from spoiling.
- 100% monk fruit extract, no other ingredients
- Highly concentrated liquid form
- Money-back guarantee
3. Purisure Monk Fruit Extract
Purisure is the only extract that we found that was 100% pure monk fruit, with no additives whatsoever.
It is carefully tested to make sure the purity is premium and there are no heavy metals or hazardous microbials lurking. It isn’t USDA certified as organic, but it is grown without the use of pesticides or herbicides.
The biggest drawback of this extract is that the flavor might take some getting used to, as it doesn’t claim to be identical to the table sugar you’re used to.
- 100% Monk fruit is the only ingredient, there are no additives, flavorings, fillers or alternative ingredients, natural or artificial
- Comes with a 100% money back guarantee, which is great just in case the flavor is too different for your palette preferences
4. NOW Foods Monk Fruit Liquid Organic
This liquid extract comes in high in our rankings because the cane alcohol that is used to temper the sweetness of the monk fruit is organic and used in very limited quantity.
The manufacturer is also very candid about this added ingredient, saying, “Our Organic Monk Fruit extract needs a carrier for to help it remain stable and contaminant-free in a liquid environment.
Alcohol is the best ingredient to use since it helps prohibit against the formation of mold, salmonella or other pathogens in the bottle and allows it to be stored unrefrigerated for a long period of time.“
That sounds like a very persuasive argument to us and, overall, the integrity of the monk fruit shines through nicely with this product.
The biggest drawback for this product is that it does leave a slight aftertaste, similar to that of artificial sweeteners. If you’re trying to make a healthier, more natural choice and you’re used to the zing, this is a great solution for you.
- It’s a liquid, so it will work well in liquids and only a few drops are needed to get the right level of sweetness
- It’s manufactured in a very respectable facility, with no contact to wheat or gluten, milk, eggs, soy, fish or shellfish, or any tree nuts
5. Lakanto Monkfruit Sweetener
One of the things we love about Lakanto is that they continue to grow and harvest the Monk fruit used for Lakanto products in the original, pristine area that was once a favorite location for meditating Buddhist monks. They also follow traditional and environmental practices.
This is one of the products that use Erythritol, which can cause some side effects if used in high doses or by someone with sensitivity or gut disorders. If you don’t fall into any of those categories, this is a fantastically reviewed product.
- It has been carefully designed to allow for a 1:1 replacement for all your sugary recipes, making it an easy substitution that tastes great and has no carbs or calories
- Has been shown to be a friendly solution for anyone on a keto, paleo or vegan diet, diabetics, or those suffering from candida issues
6. Monk Fruit In The Raw Sweetener
This popular brand of monk fruit sweetener used to include maltodextrin, but they recently changed the formula to include erythritol instead.
This change was made to make Monk Fruit In The Raw officially Keto certified! Now, instead of affecting your glucose levels (which maltodextrin does), people who are low-carb can safely consume this product.
- Tastes just like table sugar with no after taste
- Gluten-Free, Vegan, Keto, and Kosher
7. ZenSweet- All Natural Monk Fruit Sugar-Free Sweetener
ZenSweet has great reviews for the taste and measurements, but it does contain erythritol so it’s not entirely pure Monk fruit.
If you’re looking to replace your sugar in recipes, it seems like a great option because it can be a simple swap.
This is one of the few products that also includes inulin, in the form of Chicory root, which is a natural prebiotic fiber.
If you don’t have trouble with your gut health, this can help your good bacteria flourish and keep your gut healthy, which is a nice perk for a sugar alternative.
- This manufacturer pays attention to quality ingredients, making sure that their ingredients are Non-GMO, which is great news especially in relation to the erythritol
- Measures cup-for-cup for replacing sugar
8. All-Purpose Granular Monkfruit Sweetener (with Erythritol)
If you’ve tried Monk fruit sweetener that uses Erythritol and you love it, then the major benefit of this brand is the bulk availability. It helps bring down the costs of using a sweetener, which can add up.
Table sugar is cheap, and this helps you keep your baking frequency and costs relatively similar without the disadvantages of actually using table sugar.
- Manufactured using co-crystallization, which translates to a uniform sugary flavor without undesirable aftertaste
9. Namanna Monk Fruit Natural Sweetener
One final product to consider that uses Erythritol, though it is non-GMO. The resealable package is a surprisingly helpful little bonus and it’s considered one of the best tasting sugar alternatives.
- Manufactured using non-GMO erythritol and Monk Fruit extract, with no other additives or pesticides
- This product is unique in that it’s officially certified Kosher and Halal
Popular Sweetener Additives
It’s important to talk about the additives that are commonly cut with the monk fruit. Because the fruit extract is about 200 times as sweet as table sugar, it’s often mixed with other ingredients to temper the sweetness and make it more comparable for use in baking and general consumption.
If you were to search Amazon for monk fruit sweeteners, you’ll quickly notice that almost every single negative review from any brand whatsoever is due to the fact that the buyer was “surprised” by the addition of other ingredients.
To save you from the same surprise and make sure your own personal monk fruit sweetener experience is entirely above board, we’re going to discuss some of the other popular ingredients in sweeteners.
This is the most common extra ingredient, and it is entirely natural. It’s a sugar alcohol, which means it’s usually derived either from cane sugar or corn, but because it’s alcohol it has minuscule traces of calories and no effect on blood glucose levels.
Our bodies can’t metabolize it in order to use it for energy, so it gets sent to the waste pile as soon as it’s consumed, though not before pleasing our sweet-craving taste buds.
Erythritol is typically about 70% as sweet as table sugar, so it makes a good pairing with its super sweet friend, monk fruit. Most consumers will also admit that it tastes very similar to sugar, so it’s an easy alternative to get used to.
It is considered safe for human consumption, and most studies find that it is very easily digested. However, if you happen to be someone who has a natural intolerance to this substance or if you have significant gut distress, such as leaky gut syndrome, erythritol can cause gas, bloating or diarrhea.
Maltodextrin is a derivative of corn, rice, potato starch or wheat. It’s highly processed and has an extremely high glycemic index, coming in at 150. It’s similar in constitution to corn syrups, though lower in sugar percentage.
The US FDA has approved maltodextrin for use in food as an additive, but that doesn’t make it overly safe.
Many people turn to Monk fruit sweetener because it doesn’t affect blood sugar levels, but if maltodextrin is added, it more assuredly will. If you have diabetes, insulin resistance or are trying to find a Keto friendly sweetener, be wary of anything that has this ingredient.
The reason it’s used in most foods, and monk fruit sweeteners specifically, is because it makes a convenient filler. It’ll temper the sweetness of the monk fruit extract in order to make the final product more comparable to sugar, usage wise.
It’s also cheap and easy to produce and acts as a preservative, so it’s a favorite of manufacturers, but not always the best choice for consumers.
Allulose is not as commonly found as a sugar alternative, but it did cross our radar when researching monk fruit sweeteners.
It’s found naturally in small quantities in wheat, figs, and raisins. Recently, manufacturers have been able to use enzymes to convert fructose from corn and other plants into allulose. It’s a highly interesting, though not well studied, compound. The chemical formula of allulose is the same as that of fructose, but it’s arranged differently. Because of this small variation, your body doesn’t absorb it or use it for energy, but instead just eliminates it.
This means it doesn’t affect blood sugar in the slightest even though it is very similar in taste and texture to table sugar.
It’s generally recognized as safe (GRAS) in the US, but there really haven’t been many studies done, so until there’s better research it’s hard to be completely convinced of its safety.
Xylitol is another sugar alcohol and, though we didn’t find it in any of our favorite monk fruit sweeteners, it’s a popular additive and sweetener on its own, so it was worth mentioning.
It’s extracted from corn or birch wood and can even be found in a variety of fruits and veggies. It’s lower in calories than sugar, but not completely free of them, so it will cause a spike in blood sugar and do not pass the Keto-friendly test.
Xylitol doesn’t derive its sweetness from fructose like most sugar, so it’s generally considered a healthier choice. Again, if you happen to have a sensitivity to sugar alcohols, it can act as a laxative and cause digestive discomfort. It’s also very toxic for dogs, so make sure to keep your four-legged family members well aware from any baking you do with this sweetener.
Alternative All Natural Sweeteners
If you’re still not wholly convinced that monk fruit is the sugar alternative for you, there are other all natural sweeteners on the market with their own unique pros and cons.
Stevia is one of the most popular natural sweeteners on the market and it’s made from shrub herb called Rebiana, which is a relative of the pretty chrysanthemum.
The most notable benefit is the fact that it has zero calories. It has also been studied for it’s potential to lower blood pressure and stabilize insulin levels.
The most common complaint is the taste. Stevia generally has a very noticeable bitter aftertaste.
Swerve is a brand name sweetener made from erythritol, oligosaccharides, and natural flavors. We’ve already discussed the pros and cons of erythritol, so let’s jump straight into oligosaccharides.
These are sweet carbs that are naturally found in fruits and some of the starchier vegetables. They are considered prebiotic fibers, which means they’re not digested for use as energy, but they do end up being food for your gut bacteria.
“Natural flavors” can be almost anything, and the fact that they’re not disclosed in better details is honestly a little unnerving. However, their purpose is to help the product taste more like table sugar.
It measures just like sugar but has no affect on your blood sugar.
Agave was incredibly popular for a moment in history, but it’s fallen out of the spotlight as more studies were done. While it is a natural sugar, it naturally consists of mostly fructose, which is the type of sugar that is most closely associated with insulin resistance, obesity and other chronic diseases.
It may be less processed than table sugar, but it might actually be even more detrimental to your health.
Alternative Artificial Sweeteners
We’ve covered natural sweeteners, but there are also a few artificial sweeteners that are worth talking about. Artificial sugar substitutes are chemicals that trick your taste buds into detecting sweetness, even though it’s not a naturally occurring sugar.
They tend to be much sweeter than table sugar but contain little to no calories.
Aspartame is used often in the food industry, especially in “diet” products. You’ll see it under the brand names NutraSweet and Equal.
Interestingly, the ingredients used to make aspartame are naturally occurring amino acids, but the process to create it is entirely synthetic. The most controversial aspect of this sweetener is the fact that when your body breaks it down, it produces methanol, which is toxic in large quantities.
There is not enough research to provide incontrovertible proof of either safety or danger, but anti-aspartame activists believe it’s linked to everything from headaches and weight gain to cancer, MS, Alzheimer’s and even mental health disorders.
Saccharin has been used to sweeten foods and drinks for more than a century, but it became really popular in the 60s and 70s. These days it’s known mainly under the brand name Sweet’N Low.
It is made in a lab and cannot, in any way, be considered natural. It’s approximately 700 times as sweet as table sugar and the human body has no idea what to do with it, so it is completely indigestible.
It is considered safe for consumption, but there have been studies linking it to cancer. The most common complaint is the bitter aftertaste.
Sucralose, most commonly sold under the brand of Splenda, is one of the most popular artificial sweeteners. It’s up to 600 times sweeter than table sugar, but it works well in almost all cooking and baking.
It’s made from a chemical process in a lab, but it doesn’t have the unpleasant aftertaste that so many other sweeteners suffer from. It does contain dextrose and maltodextrin, so it might affect blood sugar levels, but so little is needed that it would be unlikely.
Because this product was initially so popular for its use in baked products, more studies have been done recently on the effects of heating on the chemicals. It’s starting to become more controversial as certain studies suggest that heating sucralose can increase cancer risks.
Is Monk fruit sweetener keto?
Yes, monk fruit extract has no calories or carbs, so it is a great keto friendly sweetener option. You’ll want to double check the ingredients list however to make sure your chosen brand is pure. Some manufacturers will use sugar, molasses or other sugar alternatives that might alter the calorie or carb count.
What is the Glycemic Index of monk fruit?
Zero! Monk fruit extract is up to 200 times sweeter than sugar but it has no carbs or calories, so it won’t affect your blood sugar levels in the slightest. It has a glycemic index of 0.
What are the side effects of monk fruit?
Monk fruit is an all natural sweetener and, to date, there are no known side effects! It’s been scientifically studied and approved by the FDA as a food item that is “Generally Recognized As Safe” or GRAS. Just be sure to get a pure form of the sweetener so that you don’t end up dealing with the side effects of additives.
What’s a good recipe to use my monk fruit sweetener in?
If you’ve chosen your favorite monk fruit sweetener but now you’re not sure what to try it in first, check out this awesome recipe from Bobby Parrish on YouTube for keto-friendly lemonade!
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