Nowadays, natural sugar substitutes and alternative sweet sugar fills the isle. The two most popular sweet substitutes are erythritol and monastic fruit. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol, while the monastic fruit (Luo Han Guo) Comes from an Asian fruit. Both are non-nutritious, zero-calorie sweets.
Here’s a quick rounddown of comparing erythritol and monk fruit, so you can decide which one (if any) is right for you.
What is erythritol?
Erythritol is a sugar alcohol made by fermenting wheat or corn starch, says Jamie Nadeu, RDN, a registered dietitian. It is found naturally in fermented foods such as grapes and peaches, mushrooms and beer, soy sauce and cheese. You will find erythritol in “zero-calorie” or “diet” gluten, candy, chocolate and sweets (including some monastic fruits).
Benefits of Erythritol
1. Does not affect blood sugar
Erythritol provides no calories.
It is excreted in the urine and does not affect your blood glucose and insulin levels.
2. “Too” is not sweet
Sugar alcohol is less sweet than other sugar substitutes, ranging from 25% to 100% of sugar sweeteners. Erythritol is about 60% to 80% sweet like sugar.
3. Does not promote tooth decay
Unlike other sweeteners with sugar and carbohydrates, erythritol cannot cause cavities or tooth decay.
4. No aftertaste
Like many other zero-calorie desserts, erythritol is not supposed to leave a pleasant taste in your mouth. And, sometimes they are mixed with more intense sweeteners to hide or reduce aftertaste.
Difficulty with erythritol
5. It can cause GI problems
“Sugar alcohols like erythritol are notorious for causing GI problems such as gas, bloating, as well as laxative effects,” said Nadeu.
Excessive diarrhea may occur, but most healthy adults can tolerate moderate amounts of erythritol, he says. Start small to avoid stomach upset.
6. Not a “whole meal”
To extract the sweet ingredients, Kreutzer explains that erythritol needs to be heavily processed.
What is the fruit of the monk?
“Monk fruit extract has been used in southern China for centuries but is relatively new to the rest of the world,” Nadeu explained.
Also known as this Luo Han GuoMonk fruit is used in traditional Chinese medicine.
Monk fruit belongs to the same plant family as gourd, pumpkin and squash.
The benefits of monastic fruit
1. Contains zero calories
Like erythritol, monk fruit is a nutritious sweet, says Carrie Krutzer, EDD, MPH, RDN, associate clinical professor at the Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and USC Cake School of Medicine at the University of Southern California. This means it doesn’t provide any carbohydrates, fats or proteins – it just provides a sweet taste.
2. Contains no carbohydrates
Monastic fruits are suitable for those on a low-carb diet (including ketogenic diets).
3. Sweeter than sugar
Monk fruit is 100 to 250 times sweeter than granulated sugar, so you can use less of it to get the same amount of sweetness.
Cons of the monk fruit
4. Not a “whole meal”
The sweet ingredients of the monk fruit need to be processed in a laboratory to separate them, Krutzer explains.
5. May have an aftertaste
Some of the monk fruits may have a “fun” taste.
However, one study found that it is not as strong as other alternative sweets. A 2018 study in the Journal of Dairy Science found that among the five low-sugar blends in vanilla protein shakes, the most monastic fruit (and 25% stevia) tasted the closest to sugar.
Is Erythritol Fruit Good For You?
“For most healthy adults, both monk fruit extract and erythritol may be substitutes for moderate sugar,” Nadeu said.
The FDA has approved both erythritol and monastic fruit as GRAS or generally considered safe.