This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclaimer for more info.

monk fruit

QUESTION: “Hey Dr. Neal, I absolutely love your show. It's super motivating and very informative. I always listen on my way to work as like a daily motivation to stay healthy on track, especially with working out and eating healthy. I love all the information. So now to my question. I am just curious if there are any side effects to using monk fruit sweetener and Stevia sweetener because I drink protein shakes. I eat protein powder daily and they both have monk fruit sweetener and Stevia sweeteners. I'm assuming they're the safest form of artificial sweetener. I'm just not sure if they make you crave more things that are sweet because I've have noticed I've been craving sweeter things. As well as if it affects your microbiome, or if it affects your health negatively. Thank you for your time. I hope that you get the chance to answer my question. Thank you.”

Listen to Dr. Neal narrate this post on Episode 1414 of the podcast Optimal Health Daily.

DR. NEAL: Thank you so much for your kind words and for being a regular listener. It makes me so happy to know that you find the show helpful.

Artificial Sweeteners

I’ve shared this story before, but I’m going to share it again because it’s so perfect for this question.

Years ago, when I served a health educator for a weight loss program, I would always tell my patients that if they wanted to satisfy their sweet craving, diet soda and other foods with these alternative sweeteners were a good option. This was especially true for those with diabetes.

Why would we recommend the consumption of artificial sweeteners? It was because these foods typically had no (or very few) calories and no real sugar. This means that they could consume as many sodas and sugar-free hard candies as they would like, still satisfy their sweet craving, but without worrying about getting off track with their weight loss or blood sugar goals.

But was this really the best advice?

Sugar Options Are Not All Equal…

There are so many artificial sweeteners available at your local market now, it’s hard to keep track. While some of them have been sold commercially for decades, others are rookies and newer to the game.

What we’re learning is, not all of these sugar substitutes are created “equal.”

Get it? Because Equal® is one type of sugar substitute?

Ok, I’ll stop.

Monk Fruit Extract

I’ll start by talking about monk fruit extract. Monk fruit is an actual fruit that’s naturally grown in China (also known as luo han guo). It has been used in China for hundreds of years as a natural remedy for the common cold, a sore throat, coughs, and congestion.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (or, FDA) has labeled monk fruit extract as “generally recognized as safe” for human consumption. This means that there doesn’t appear to be any major negative health effects associated with its consumption. But there are some other organizations that disagree with the FDA. The Center for Science in the Public Interest believes monk fruit extract should be used with caution. This is because they believe there aren’t enough human studies to know whether long-term use is safe. But we’ll come back to that idea a little later.

Now, I should mention what monk fruit extract is just that – an extract from the monk fruit. But when we add this extract to our foods, it doesn’t mean that we are getting a fruit serving at the same time. Instead, the actual extract is made up of these compounds called mogrosides. It turns out these mogrosides make monk fruit extract taste 200 times sweeter than sugar. So, as you can imagine, monk fruit extract is becoming popular as a sugar substitute. And like many other sugar substitutes, it contains zero calories.

Stevia®

Next, Stevia®. Stevia is sometimes, but not often, called “Rebiana.” This sweetener comes in different forms like Truvia, PureVia, and SweetLeaf. Each is a little different in their chemical compositions. Stevia itself comes from the leaves of the yerba dulce plant. For now, like monk fruit extract, Stevia is also generally recognized as safe by the FDA.

This means that, at this time, there’s not enough scientific evidence to show that Stevia consumption may harm us. But I should mention that there are some studies that have shown Stevia may lead to genetic mutations, but these studies were performed in a lab and not with actual living humans.

So what we’re learning is that while these sugar substitutes add sweetness and save calories initially, some studies are finding that after consuming these zero calorie sweeteners, folks tend to make up for those calories by eating other sweet foods throughout the day. It’s like they just don’t seem to satisfy the same way as regular sugar does.

Bottom Line

So, here’s what I would suggest. Right now, most health experts agree that sugar alcohols are safe to use on a regular basis. These would be things like sorbitol and mannitol. Early studies are finding that Stevia seems to be quite safe as well. But when it comes to monk fruit extract, it might be worthwhile to consume in small amounts until we know a bit more about it.

I would feel more comfortable with monk fruit extract when, for example, the Center for Science in the Public Interest agrees with the FDA that it is safe to consume.

Listen to Dr. Neal narrate this post on Episode 1414 of the podcast Optimal Health Daily.

mm

Neal Malik

Dr. Neal Malik ("Dr. Neal") has a Doctorate in Public Health with emphases in disease prevention and nutrition. He is also a Registered Dietitian and Certified Health Education Specialist. He is currently an assistant professor at California State University, San Bernardino. Dr. Neal has published peer-reviewed scientific research and been featured as a nutrition and wellness expert in over 70 media outlets including Parade and The L.A. Times.Send in your health related question and Dr. Neal will answer it on the Optimal Health Daily show!
Minimalism Tips for Family Cheat Sheet

Minimalism Tips for Family Cheat Sheet

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on minimalism tips for family members. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and life tips!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Join my weekly newsletter for life tips, quotes, and free tools to optimize your life (and make my day)!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Minimize Your Wardrobe: Inspiration File

Minimize Your Wardrobe: Inspiration File

Enter your email to get our free Inspiration File on minimizing your wardrobe. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and life tips!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist: How to Declutter Sentimental Items.

Checklist: How to Declutter Sentimental Items.

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on decluttering sentimental items. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and life tips!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

5-Day Email Course - Get Started with Minimalism

5-Day Email Course - Get Started with Minimalism

Enter your email to join our free 5-day ecourse on getting started with minimalism. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist-How to Declutter Paper

Checklist-How to Declutter Paper

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on how to declutter paper. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist - How to Declutter Books

Checklist - How to Declutter Books

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on how to declutter books. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist - How to Help Kids Learn to Declutter Toys

Checklist - How to Help Kids Learn to Declutter Toys

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on how to help kids learn to declutter their toys. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist - Bare Minimum of Items for Moving

Checklist - Bare Minimum of Items for Moving

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on the bare minimum of items you need when moving. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Checklist - Why Personal Finance is Important

Checklist - Why Personal Finance is Important

Enter your email to get our free PDF checklist on why financial literacy is important. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - How to Overcome Money Fears

Cheat Sheet - How to Overcome Money Fears

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on overcoming money fears. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Bonus - Debt Payoff Tracker PDF

Bonus - Debt Payoff Tracker PDF

Enter your email to get our free PDF debt payoff tracker. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - How To Stay Motivated When You Feel Stuck

Cheat Sheet - How To Stay Motivated When You Feel Stuck

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on maintaining your level of motivation. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - What Should I Do After A Deep Tissue Massage?

Cheat Sheet - What Should I Do After A Deep Tissue Massage?

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on what to do after a deep tissue massage. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - Tips for Sitting at a Computer All Day

Cheat Sheet - Tips for Sitting at a Computer All Day

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on tips to counter sitting at a computer all day. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - How Do I Stick to a Budget?

Cheat Sheet - How Do I Stick to a Budget?

Enter your email to get our free PDF cheat sheet on tips to stick to your budget. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Expert Tips - How to Get Over a Breakup

Expert Tips - How to Get Over a Breakup

Enter your email to get our free PDF with expert tips on getting over a breakup. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Expert Tips - How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Expert Tips - How to Stop Comparing Yourself to Others

Enter your email to get our free PDF with expert tips on how to stop comparing yourself to others. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Expert Tips - 10 Health & Fitness Quotes

Expert Tips - 10 Health & Fitness Quotes

Enter your email to get our free PDF with health and fitness quotes from Optimal Health Daily episodes. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Cheat Sheet - Toxic Relationships

Cheat Sheet - Toxic Relationships

Enter your email to get our free PDF with tips on how to spot -- and get out of -- a toxic relationship. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration, quotes, life tips, and more!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

OLD Podcast: Library

OLD Podcast: Library

Enter your email to get your password to access our handy library. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and life tips!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

5-Day Email Course - Get Started with Personal Finances

5-Day Email Course - Get Started with Personal Finances

Enter your email to join our free 5-day ecourse on improving your personal finances. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Journaling Worksheet - PDF

Journaling Worksheet - PDF

Enter your email to get a sample of our journaling worksheet PDF with quotes and templates based on Optimal Living Daily episodes. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

5-Day Email Course - Improve Your Health and Fitness

5-Day Email Course - Improve Your Health and Fitness

Enter your email to join our free 5-day ecourse on improving your health and fitness. You'll also get a weekly email with inspiration and tips to optimize your life!

You have Successfully Subscribed!