Monk Fruit vs Stevia: Which is the Best Natural Sweetener?

According to an article in Nutritional Outlook magazine, monk fruit works better for sweetening citrus beverages while stevia excels for sweetening items that have vanilla flavored components. So, if you’re drinking a cup of vanilla-flavored coffee, stevia is a good sweetener choice, but if you’re making lemonade, a little monk fruit does the job.


All in all, if you’ve ever sweetened something with stevia and thought it had a strangely bitter aftertaste, you’re a good candidate for monk fruit. Some people are better at tasting those bitter undertones than others.


So, stevia works for some but not for everyone. You won’t have to deal with bitterness with monk fruit. In fact, if you use a lot of it, it imparts a fruity flavor to foods and beverages.


Stevia Safety


We’re sure you have questions about safety – and you should. One of the many concerns about artificial sweeteners is that they might alter how insulin behaves by “tricking” your body into thinking it’s getting something sweet. Based on the limited studies that are out there, stevia doesn’t seem to do this.


In fact, stevia improves blood glucose control. Health practitioners in Brazil actually use it as a treatment for type 2 diabetes.


In animal studies, stevia helps insulin work better and protects rats against kidney and liver damage. Larger doses of stevia rebaudiana also lower blood pressure, although you need relatively large amounts.


At one point there were concerns that Stevia might impact fertility based on animal studies but more recent studies don’t support this idea.


Monk Fruit Safety


The active ingredients in monk fruit are called mogrosides On the downside, mogrosides have yet to be extensively studied in animals or humans. However, in the studies that have been carried out monk fruit mogrosides appear to have beneficial properties.


In animal studies, they lower blood sugar, have a favorable impact on blood lipids, and have antioxidant activity. Based on what we know, there’s no evidence they cause cancer or other health problems.


One problem with many monk fruit sweeteners is they’re more than just monk fruit mogrosides. Instead, manufacturers add “fillers,” including erythritol (a sugar alcohol that’s likely safe), molasses, or even dextrose, which is essentially sugar. Those are the exact ingredients in one monk fruit preparation called Nectresse.


Another one called Monk Fruit in the Raw contains monk fruit mogrosides and dextrose. We mentioned that monk fruit preparations aren’t GMO, but the dextrose in Monk Fruit in the Raw comes from corn – a crop that is often genetically modified. The monk fruit itself is not genetically modified but the corn MAY be.

Kristie Leong M.D.

Dr. Kristie Leong and Dr. Apollo Leong are physicians helping you to lead a healthy lifestyle by sharing nutrition and fitness tips and keeping you abreast of the latest health news.

One thought to “Monk Fruit vs Stevia: Which is the Best Natural Sweetener?”

  1. Hi Kristie,
    I’ve been using Stevia in my coffee and tea for many years (I even grew some in my garden once in an attempt to make my own sweetener). I read recently that it is best to use the unrefined form (brown and liquid – tastes a tiny bit like molasses) because of something in the refining process that’s not considered healthy.

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