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What Is Monk Fruit?

What Is Monk Fruit?

image credit to My Fitness Pal

Scan the ingredients lists on some of your favorite "healthy" products today and you're likely to run into a particular character you might have wondered about - Monk Fruit. This sweetener hit the mainstream as far as the health-food world is concerned a couple of years ago and is making an appearance more and more frequently as a replacement for sugar. Here at Sneakz, we enlist both Cane Sugar and Monk Fruit to make for a delicious experience when you enjoy Meal2Go. We want to demystify as many of your choices around fueling your best life as we can, and to us that includes both destigmatizing sugar, and sharing some insight as to when alternatives make sense for us.

So let's talk about Monk.

Native to Southeast Asia, Monk Fruit is up to 200x sweeter than sugar. You might be familiar with a similar statistic for Stevia. The main benefit to Monk Fruit over Stevia is that it is much less processed and remains much closer to it's whole, in-tact form by the time it makes its way to you. As in, how many times it's been transformed somehow in the time between growing out of the ground, to the ingredients list in your smoothie, is much less than the amount of handling and manipulation Stevia goes through.

Here at Sneakz, we actually feel really strongly about the miseducation and the "bad guy" rep that Sugar gets. We use pure organic cane sugar because it is the most minimally processed ingredient we could use and we believe in preserving the wholeness of food. Registered Dietitian, Noelle Martin of @motherhoodandmeals wrote for us about Understanding Sugar and How the Body Uses It - spoiler alert - we need it!

One of the more "attractive" benefits of Monk Fruit is that it is a zero-calorie sweetener and doesn't boost your blood sugar. However, being informed is still essential for you as the consumer and potential believer of these labels. Beware of "no sugar added" claims, because most products with "zero sugar" contain Stevia and sugar alcohols  - which are highly processed. We want to advocate for food choices made because of how they make you feel, and not because they tote a caloric deficit. We know that we need calories for optimal health and wellbeing. An article from Men's Health on the topic quotes Cara Harbstreet, M.S. R.D. L.D., of Street Smart Nutrition as saying:

“Monk fruit sweeteners are calorie-free, but that doesn’t mean they can be used with abandon,” says Harbstreet. “From a safety standpoint, there would be no negative physical effects. However, health encompasses our emotional and mental health as well, and low-calorie or calorie-free sweeteners are often associated with dieting behaviors that can damage one’s relationship with food.” (1)

In our Meal2Go, we use both sugar and Monk Fruit - with Monk Fruit being the last ingredient you read on the package because indicating that it's the lowest ingredient in terms of quantity. The reason for that is because of the amplification effect of Monk Fruit. Using even a very tiny bit of it boosts the sweetness that is already present in Cane Sugar, which allows us to also use less sugar and keep our products tasting great. The combination of the two ingredients supports our values and beliefs around nourishing ourselves with care, compassion, awareness, and education.