Monk Fruit or Stevia— and their derivatives— are promoted as natural alternatives to sugar because they’re healthier. But is one just as healthy as the next?
It’s true that sugar encourages inflammation in the body and can cause everything from cavities to yeast infections, but is the alternative any better? The trick is to read the label carefully when selecting a substitute. Monk Fruit and Stevia are completely natural but they can be combined with other not so healthy ingredients. This is the case with the Nectresse version of Monk Fruit and Truvia, which contain Stevia.
Monk Fruit is in the news as the latest and greatest healthy sweetener. It was dating back into the 13th Century by monks living in the mountains of Southern China for medicinal purposes, easing allergies and digestive disturbances. Monk Fruit extract, or “Luo Han Guo” as it is also known, has shown to decrease blood sugar, especially beneficial for those with diabetes. You only need a small amount of Monk Fruit since its sweetness is approximately 170 times that of sugar, and because it isn’t a sugar alcohol, it doesn’t leave a bitter aftertaste in the mouth.
Nectresse contains 4 ingredients: Erythritol, sugar, molasses, and Monk Fruit extract. This product is 150 times sweeter than sugar. The first ingredient, Erythritol, is a sugar alcohol that can be produced from corn and may have GMO issues. It also contains sugar and molasses, two refined sugars. Watch for the brand Splenda to bring Nectresse to your local super market.
Stevia is a plant that originates in South America. In fact, the natives have used stevia as a sweetener for hundreds of years. Extracts of the stevia leaf can be up to 250 times as sweet as sugar. As a member of the mint family, the leaves are also used for medicinal purposes. Stevia is used as a weight loss aid, for treating diabetes, high blood pressure and heartburn. It can also decrease blood sugar levels in diabetics.
The Fat Flush Plan includes stevia to sweeten both hot and cold foods. When shopping for stevia, look for SweetLeaf Stevia which includes inulin, a soluble vegetable fiber that supports growth of good intestinal flora, inulin helps with immune function and promotes digestive health.
Truvia contains stevia extract and Erythritol, which provides bulk for this product. It is 60-70% as sweet as table sugar and doesn’t raise blood sugar. Erythritol is mostly absorbed into the blood stream so very little reaches the colon therefore minimizing the laxative effect. When combined with stevia, it provides bulk and flavor similar to that of table sugar.
Don’t be fooled when shopping for sugar replacements. Pay close attention to the ingredients, and insist on pure, zero-calorie sweetener products for truly healthy alternatives to sugar!