Monk fruit is a popular alternative to processed sugar because it has 250 times the sweetness of sucrose, no calories, and is not linked to the dangerous side effects of sugar – namely high blood pressure, inflammation, weight gain, liver disease, or diabetes. It’s also thought to be an anti-inflammatory. Between the taste and health benefits, monk fruit products have become favorites among people with low-sugar lifestyles.
But not all are equal in the world of monk fruit. There’s an important and concerning difference between pure monk fruit sweetener and poor-quality ones, which can contain erythritol, an additive that’s linked to heart attack and stroke.
Does that mean you should avoid monk fruit altogether, just to be safe?
No. Pure monk fruit sweetener (and products made with it) is healthy, flavorful, and an excellent choice for ditching processed sugar.
Let’s explore the various brands and foods that use this remarkable sweetener, catch you up on the monk fruit drama, and show you how easy it is to buy monk fruit products made with pure monk fruit — and avoid those with erythritol (spoiler alert: it’s not always on the label).
Switching To Monk Fruit — Not Just Another No-Calorie Sweetener
Sugar and calorie free
There are many reasons to swap sugar for monk fruit in your diet. You may be trying to lose weight, achieve your optimal fitness level, or simply want to switch up junk foods for healthier options.
The simple fact that it significantly reduces the calories of any recipe where you use it to replace sugar makes monk fruit an option that is vastly superior for your health.
Safe for diabetics
Diabetes is a pandemic and poor diets are to blame. In America alone, 37 million people have diabetes (fast math: that’s about one in ten) while another 96 million are prediabetic (fast fact: that’s too many) according to the CDC. 
Monk fruit products are considered a safe choice for people with diabetes because that incredible sweetness comes from mogrosides, which are natural compounds. Monk fruit, therefore, does not cause spikes in blood sugar.
However—and this is a big however—some monk fruit products contain sugar alcohols and other additives which can cause blood sugar spikes and add calories and carbohydrates. Erythritol is one of those commonly added additives, and a recent study correlates erythritol to increased risk for the kind of blood clots that cause heart attack and stroke, particularly in people at risk for heart disease. 
A little boost of energy
Pure monk fruit sweetener may give you an energy boost. One study on mice showed they experienced less fatigue during exercise after consuming monk fruit.  In addition to increased liver and muscle glycogen, the mice also experienced a “decrease [in] the blood lactic acid and serum urea nitrogen levels.”
Given that the name in China for monk fruit was “the longevity fruit”, perhaps the results of this study should come as no surprise.
Another way it will lead to more energy is in the lack of crashes associated with sugar consumption.
Monk Fruit Sweeteners - Differences To Consider
While it may seem like monk fruit sweeteners just contain extract from the plant and that’s it, that’s rarely the case.
Since monk fruit is extremely sweet (200-250 times sweeter than sugar) a tiny bit of it goes a long way to sweeten your food. Therefore, a lot of brands see it fit to add other sweeteners and ingredients to add bulk or reduce sweetness.
As mentioned above, erythritol is often one of those additives.
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol commonly used to increase the weight and size of certain foods. Many companies also use it to tone down the sweetness of their monk fruit products. That’s the main reason why different monk fruit sweeteners may have subtle differences in their flavor.
Though the Food and Drug Administration considers it “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS), the Nature study mentioned above found very strong, very concerning associations between erythritol and the kind of blood clots that can lead to heart attack and stroke.
Erythritol is found naturally in many foods but is then added to certain products in unsafe levels, according to the study’s authors, and marketed as keto-friendly or for diabetics.
Buying monk fruit products without erythritol – Avoid sugar alcohols
Luckily, buying monk fruit products without erythritol is far from impossible. You just want to be sure you’re buying pure monk fruit sweetener or foods sweetened with only monk fruit extract and nothing else.
The other thing to do is read the nutrition label and look for sugar alcohols. Brands don’t need to include erythritol in their ingredient list unless they make claims regarding sugar content (“low sugar” or “no sugar”) or sugar alcohols. So check that label and steer clear.
Other Factors To Consider When Choosing The Best Monk Fruit Sweetener
- Purity of the monk fruit – are there other additives? If so, find a product that doesn’t.
- Price of various brands – Are some more reasonably priced than others and why?
- Availability – Which ones are available at your local grocery store? If none contain pure monk fruit sweetener, ask your store if they’ll consider carrying monk fruit products without additives.
- Taste — With varying flavors and sweetnesses between products and brands, you may have to do some experimenting to find what suits your taste best.
Monk Fruit Controversy – Why Nectrese Was Discontinued in 2015
Although part of Johnson & Johnson’s reasoning for discontinuing their monk fruit sweetener is due to poor sales, a lawsuit over a claim they made about their product likely played a role.
Following claims that their monk fruit sweetener was “100% natural”, it turned out that it contained only a tiny amount of monk fruit — the rest were artificial sweeteners like erythritol. This lawsuit shed light on the issue of what constitutes a natural product and tightened regulations for popular sugar substitutes.
3 Monk Fruit Sweeteners That Are Worth Trying
Best Sweetener: Monk Fruit In The Raw
A product that is quickly becoming the top choice for pure sweeteners, Monk Fruit in the Raw contains only monk fruit and one other natural sweetener, dextrose. Arguably the strongest advantage of this product is that it tastes very close to sugar - a feat in which many natural sweeteners missed the mark. Count on Monk Fruit in the Raw as a reliable, zero calorie option for sweetening your coffee, fruit, and other foods.
Runner Up: Kal Monk Fruit
The first difference you’ll notice about Kal Monk Fruit is that it comes in a convenient shaker bottle rather than bags or paper packets. Another unique aspect of Kal Monk Fruit is that it contains inulin, a natural ingredient that adds fiber into the mix. With a shaker bottle that lets you sprinkle or pour the quantity you need and the added bonus of fiber in the form of inulin, Kal Monk Fruit is a tasty and original variation of monk fruit sweetener.
Your Fallback: Lakanto Golden Sweetener
On the market for over a decade in Japan, Lakanto Sweeteners come in white and golden flavors, and both are primarily sweetened with monk fruit.
This product does add erythritol to their monk fruit extract, so decide carefully if you’re at risk for blood clots.
However, Lakanto is popular and does an excellent job at minimizing the strong aftertaste of the monk fruit of straight monk fruit.
3 Products That Are Sweetened With Monk Fruit
Designer Wellness Protein Smoothie
For those looking for a convenient, portable protein smoothie, take a look at Design Wellness’s monk fruit-infused protein smoothie packs. They come in a variety of flavors and offer around 12 grams of protein for your post-workout recovery. Keep in mind these are not vegetarian smoothies—they are whey protein-based—so vegetarians and vegans should err away.
We love that Designer Wellness does not use added sugars or potentially dangerous sugar alcohols, but keeps their smoothies low-carb and GMO-free.
Bhu Foods Protein Bars
From the beginning, Bhu Foods has strived to provide innovative foods with all natural ingredients. This mission has led us to create no- and low-sugar vegan and keto protein bars and snacks, all sweetened with organic monk fruit.
Bhu Foods snacks are the perfect alternative to highly processed foods with refined sugar. A favorite among our customers is our refrigerated protein bars coming in a variety of flavors.
We’re proud to make products without erythritol or other sugar alcohols, and with only 100% organic ingredients. With a variety of foods that are healthier than their sugar-laden counterparts, Bhu Foods is a true innovator, using monk fruit in products long before many other brands.
Enlightened Ice Cream Bars
Enlightened is a company obsessed with making ice cream products that are light and healthy, and they use monk fruit to make it happen.
In addition to a variety of pints, Enlightened also makes a line of ice cream bars in fun, innovative flavors. With the calorie count boldly displayed on the front label of its products, Enlightened is making ice cream viable for the fitness crowd.
Join Bhu Foods In Switching To The Healthier Sweetener
Years ago, we at Bhu Foods learned about the many benefits of monk fruit and chose to make it the primary sweetener in our protein bars, cookies, and other products. This decision has led to the creation of food products that are available in a variety of complex flavors without the extra calories from sugar.
It’s no joke that thousands of people turn to our snacks to create a positive change – one that can be made in your life as well. We’d love you to try switching to monk fruit products, so if you have any questions we haven’t covered here, simply reach out!