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

Fortunately, there is a non-GMO monk fruit sweetener out there called Lakanto. Like many monk fruit sweeteners, it contains erythritol. Why is erythritol so common in monk fruit sweeteners? It seems that the mogrosides in monk fruit are so powerful that they need an additive to tone them down. You also see erythritol in some stevia preparations as well.

 

The Bottom Line

 

We believe monk fruit and stevia are two of the safer sweeteners out there. Ideally, we’d like for you to avoid ALL sweeteners but if that’s not doable, these are the sweeteners we recommend. We can’t recommend artificial sweeteners, like Splenda, Aspartame etc., because studies show these sweeteners appear to destroy healthy gut bacteria.

 

Gut bacteria destruction is a bad thing. Your gut bacteria are EVERYTHING when it comes to your health. For example, they play an important role in how your immune system and digestive tract function. Our advice: Stay away from sweeteners that mess with your gut bacteria. As of now, there’s no evidence that stevia or monk fruit do this.

 

We also can’t recommend the natural sweeteners many people use in place of sugar, including honey, rice syrup, coconut sugar, maple syrup, and agave syrup. These sweeteners cause a somewhat similar rise in blood sugar as sugar and they’re not free of calories. I guess if you HAD to choose between sugar and one of these, one of these would arguably be better, but you have other choices.

 

What We Do

 

As we talked about in the past, we live a low-sugar lifestyle and avoid sugar as well as most sweeteners. We do use sweetener in coffee and what we use is a combination of stevia and monk fruit. We mix the two together and store it in a container. You can also buy premixed stevia/monk fruit combinations.

 

You might wonder whether we’re concerned about the additives, like erythritol, in some of these products. Erythritol exists naturally in some fruits as well as fermented foods like cheese and wine. So, we believe it, too, is safe.

 

So, now you have the scoop on stevia and monk fruit. There are pros and cons to each. Better taste is a big pro for monk fruit but it’s also more expensive. You might discover, like us, that you can mix the two and get a good taste without spending as much.

 

Do you use a natural sweetener? If so, which one? 

 

References:

 

J Diabetes Complications. 2013 Mar-Apr;27(2):103-13.
Clin Ther. 2003 Nov;25(11):2797-808.
Phytochemistry. 2003 Nov;64(5):913-21.
Center for Science in the Public Interest. “It’s Sweet… But is it Safe?
Nutritional Outlook. “What Makes a Natural Sweetener Safe?”
Non-GMO Project. “LAKANTO® Monk Fruit Sweetener Now Non-GMO Project Verified”

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.
    Linda

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