Monk Fruit and Stevia both are natural non-nutritive sweeteners. As a lot of sweeteners are on the market nowadays, this complete analysis of monk fruit vs stevia will help you choose the best one for you.
Chinese monks were the first cultivators of this fruit in the 13th century, that’s why it is called Monk Fruit. It is the native of southern China and its other names are Lo Han Guo, Siraitia Grosvenor or Swingle fruit. Monk fruit doesn’t taste as appealing as raw so it’s best used after drying. Monks used to boil the dried monk fruit in water and drink its tea for various health benefits.
Stevia or Stevia rebaudiana is a plant that has sweet leaves. Its leaves are refined to extract a sweetener, rebaudioside A from it. This sweetener is then sold in the market as stevia sugar as the raw use of Stevia leaves is not approved by FDA yet. Stevia contains steviol glycosides which are about 200 to 400 times sweeter than sugar, almost the same as monk fruit extract mogroside.
Benefits of Monk Fruit Vs Stevia
- Non-nutritive – Monk fruit and stevia both have zero calories, no sugar and no carbohydrates. This makes both of them an ideal choice to be used instead of high-calorie sugar. Mogroside-V present in Monk fruit is 250 times sweeter than sucrose (source).
- No Side-Effects – No side-effects of monk fruit have been observed to date in studies but stevia may cause indigestion, bloating and gas in some people.
- Available in Many Forms – Monk fruit is available in many forms such as powder, syrup or granules. Stevia is available in mostly powder and drops form.
- High in Antioxidants – Monk fruit is rich in antioxidants thereby making it an anti-ageing product as well. Another reason why it has been called the fruit of longevity. Stevia has no such benefits.
- Control Blood Sugar Levels – Monk fruit is known to stimulate insulin production thereby decreasing blood sugar levels. This can be very beneficial for diabetic patients.
- Can be used as raw – Monk fruit can be taken as raw, its pulp is pureed and added to any dish that you want sweeter. However, stevia is not approved to use in its raw state by FDA. Only purified stevia is considered GRAS (Generally considered Safe by FDA (source).
- No Allergic Reactions – Some people who are allergic to Lettuce, dandelion, artichoke, daisies, chicory, chrysanthemums and sunflowers etc can be allergic to Stevia too as they all belong to the same Asteraceae plant family. There are no such known cases of allergy to monk fruit.
- Prevents Diabetes-related complications – The mogroside extract present in the monk fruit stops protein glycation and glycoxidation processes (source). That means it is a potent ant-oxidant and can prevent diabetes-related complications as well. Stevia has no such benefits.
- Cough & Sore Throat Treatment – Monk fruit has been used for treating cough and sore throat and it was believed to boost longevity because of its antioxidant effects (source). Stevia lacks in this as well.
Disadvantages of Monk Fruit Vs Stevia
- Cost – Monk fruit is costly and stevia is cheaper than that. As monk fruit is difficult to grow and cultivate. It is grown mostly in the colder mountain areas of southern China and in Thailand as well. On the other hand, a stevia plant can grow in almost all growing conditions.
- Taste – Monk fruit is an acquired taste, as it may not taste good or like real sugar. On the other hand, the taste of stevia is quite close to real sugar. Although both may leave an aftertaste on the tongue.
- Unavailability of Pure extract – There is a big window for adulteration in these sweeteners. The brands can add many other types of artificial sweeteners to the monk sugar to make it more pleasing and taste better. This addition of other ingredients changes its efficacy as well. Monk fruit is difficult to grow and is more prone to adulteration by brands.
- Not for Hypoglycemics – Monk Fruit is not suitable for those who already get episodes of hypoglycemia or low blood sugar levels. As mogroside present in it stimulates insulin secretion in the beta cells of the pancreas (study). So, it can further decrease blood sugar levels.
Read More: Is Glucose an electrolyte or non-electrolyte?
Monk Fruit Or Stevia: Which is Natural?
If you compare stevia leaf and monk fruit, then both are natural but what you can consume as per FDA tells a different story.
The stevia powder you bought from the market is completely different from the stevia plant you have in your home. It is purified and its extract is taken out in the form of rebaudioside A.
However, in the case of Monk fruit, it can be taken in raw, dried, or pureed form as per your choice. Other natural sweeteners that you can try are maple syrup, dates and honey etc.
Know more: Natural Vs Added Sugar: Which is Better for You?
After researching the pros and cons of Monk fruit vs stevia, we have come to a conclusion that Monk fruit sweeteners have no side effects but it’s costly and not readily available. Stevia is readily available but it has some side effects, so in order to avoid the side effects of stevia, you must take it within the recommended dosage by the FDA which is 4 mg/kg of your body weight per day (source). No recommended dosage of daily consumption of Monk fruit has been specified by FDA though.
It’s your personal choice which one you choose among Stevia and Monk fruit as per taste, cost and availability. It is strongly recommended that you must read the labels carefully while buying the monk fruit or stevia sweeteners because most of the time, there are added artificial sweeteners in it such as aspartame, saccharin, acesulfame, neotame etc.
So, buy whatever you like but consume in a recommended amount and see what taste suits you best among Monk Fruit and Stevia!