Luo Han Guo (also known as Monk Fruit)
Luo Han Guo is one of the most exciting new sweeteners to emerge in the last few years. The plant is native to the Guangxi province in southwestern China.
Luo Han means monk and Guo means fruit, and it has become known as Monk Fruit in the west.
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Although it is beginning to create a stir because it is a totally natural zero calorie sweetener, it has been know in China for about 800 years. It was also used for medicinal purposes and it contains important antioxidants. The sweetness comes from mogrosides which make up approx 1% of the fruit by weight.
It has a zero glycemic index, contains no calories and is suitable for diabetics. It is a natural product. It is only recently that methods have been used to extract the mogrosides in pure quantities. This enables the sweetness to be concentrated without undesirable flavours. A firm called BioVittoria has begun to cultivate it and grow it commercially in New Zealand.
It is used as a natural zero calorie sweetener. For use as a table top sweetener, it is more usable if mixed with a bulking agent, as it is too difficult to measure out the required quantity otherwise because if it's intensity. It is heat stable, with a long shelf life, and is suitable for cooking and baking. It also mixes well with other low calorie sweeteners such as stevia and erythritol, producing a synergistic effect and masking unwanted aftertaste.
Zero glycemic index. Zero calories. Does not contribute to tooth decay. May have useful medicinal properties.
No known concerns.
It is produced in a totally natural way. The fruit is crushed and water used to extract the juice. This is filtered to obtain the mogroside v which gives the product its sweetness.
It is sold in liquid and powdered form. The powdered form is preferable, as some of the liquids may contain other sweeteners, and these may not be naturally produced. Neway Natural sell a product called Sweet Sensation. Nectresse from the makers of Splenda is bulked up with Erythritol. A new product called 'Monk fruit in the Raw' contains is bulked up with dextrose.
The local in the Guangxi province in southwestern China attribute their longevity to the consumption and medicinal use of Luo Han Guo. It has been used for many years in the treatment of sore throats, coughs and for fevers.
In the USA the Food and Drug Administration has granted it GRAS approval. (Generally recognized as safe) .
Conclusions and Summary:
Luo Han Guo is an excellent and exciting new zero calorie sweetener. It is a natural product and appears to be totally safe. Is useful for diabetics and it is harmless to teeth. Not yet widely available, but this should improve. Can be used in cooking.
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Taste: -------- Good
Aftertaste: ---- No
Concerns: ----- No
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