The Healthy Sugar Alternative For the Ages
Do you have a sweet tooth? You don’t need to be ashamed. Many of us do! Some of us prefer chocolate while others may indulge in cookies or cake but a 2011 study based on data from the Swedish Mammography Cohort may have you thinking twice before reaching for that extra sweet treat this holiday season. The study, which examined 61,226 women age 40-74, found that “Total sucrose intake and consumption of sweet buns and cookies was associated with increased risk of endometrial cancer.” They followed up with these women after 18.4 years and found 729 participants were diagnosed with incident endometrial cancer. When participants consumed sweet buns and cookies more than 3 times per week or 35 grams of sucrose per day their risk increased when compared to consuming less than 15 grams per day or indulging in sweet buns and cookies less than 0.5 times a week. The understanding that sugar has negative effects on our health is nothing new but this study shows how sugar can specifically affect women’s reproductive organs.
Depending on how far down the rabbit hole of sugar alternatives you have traveled you may or may not be aware that the use of artificial sweeteners can be just as deadly as actual sugar. From aspartame found in Equal & NutraSweet to Sucralose in Splenda and Saccharin in Sweet ‘N Low, these synthetic sweeteners should be avoided at all cost. Even so called “healthy” sugar alternatives like Truvia and Sweetleaf are not what they appear to be but there is still hope for your sweet tooth!
Have you heard of Monk Fruit? It has become more popular as a sugar alternative over the past few years and is widely available in many stores but before your run out to buy a bag there are a few things you need to know first. One of the most widely available Monk Fruit Sweetener brands is Lakanto but if you look at their label you will find the first ingredient is actually Erythritol while ‘Monk Fruit Extract’ is the second ingredient. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol derived most commonly from GMO corn and is used as a filler ingredient in many other easily obtained so called “healthy” sugar alternatives like the aforementioned Truvia and Sweetleaf. However, despite the PR campaign to promote Erythritol as a “healthy” sugar alternative there is nothing healthy about genetically modified corn products.
All that being said there are a few Monk Fruit powder products available made by companies like Z Natural Foods and It’s Just Monk Fruit which contain only one ingredient, non GMO Monk Fruit extract. Monk Fruit, also known as the Buddha Fruit, has a medicinal name in Chinese medicine: Luo Han Guo. It has been used in Chinese herbal medicine for thousands of years to treat dry cough, sore throat and hoarseness of voice due to “heat in the lung,” as well as being used in formulations for treating constipation due to lack of fluid in the intestine and is a powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-diabetes food. The zero calorie Monk Fruit extract contains an antioxidant called Mogrosides which are actually 100-300 sweeter than traditional table sugar but amazingly they do not affect blood sugar levels! But as with any any miracle solution there is some risk. Monk Fruit is a perennial vine in in the Cucurbitaceae family, better known as the Gourd family, so if you have an aversion or allergy to things like pumpkins, squashes, cucumbers or melons you should avoid Monk Fruit. If you are ok with those things then Monk Fruit may be your gateway sweetener to still enjoying, still in moderation of course, all of those tasty sweet treats you have been avoiding or would like to start avoiding in your quest to cut sugar out of your life for good! Its texture after its been processed is akin to granulated sugar so it is excellent for baking, cooking and putting in your coffee or tea. Luo Han Guo has so many uses from healthcare to commercial food products, you can understand why Chinese law does not allow Monk Fruit or its genetic material to ever leave the Guangxi region of southern China. In Chinese herbal medicine Luo Han Guo is also excellent at opening and spreading the Lung qi! Now that you are aware of Monk Fruit and its wonderful taste and health benefits your upcoming homemade holiday desserts can be enjoyed even more knowing you are satiating that sweet tooth without that old monkey on your back called Sugar.