Monk Fruit vs Stevia: How Do These Calorie-Free Sweeteners Compare?
Whether you’re practicing a keto lifestyle or merely trying to cut back on the sweet stuff, sugar substitutes like monk fruit and stevia extracts are good choices to sweeten your foods without the added carbs and calories.
We know how harmful too many added sugars can be in your diet, potentially contributing to all sorts of health complications. But giving up sweets altogether? Heartbreaking.
Monk fruit and stevia extracts have little to no calories, which makes them a better alternative for people who are trying to shed some weight, says certified nutritionist Anju Mobin.
Mobin adds that these sweeteners have little to no effect on blood sugar levels, which may be helpful for those trying to maintain blood sugar levels.
Usually, the only battles we like to see at Openfit are at the battle ropes. But today, we’re “battling” monk fruit vs. stevia: Which is better? Is one better? What’s the difference?
Benefits of Monk Fruit Extract
Monk fruit, or luo han guo extract, is a natural, calorie, and carb-free sweetener extracted from a South Asian fruit of the same name. Here are some of the benefits of monk fruit extract:
- Monk fruit is typically 100 to 250 times sweeter than regular sugar, so a little goes a long way!
- It’s calorie, carb, and sugar-free.
- Monk fruit has been safely consumed for centuries in Asian cultures.
- Animal studies have demonstrated that mongrosides extracted from monk fruit may have antioxidant-like properties, says Mobin.
Benefits of Stevia Extract
Native to South America, Stevia is a sweetener that originates from the stevia plant. It comes in both a powder and liquid form. Here are the benefits of stevia extract:
- It’s non-nutritive, meaning it has little to no calories or carbs, which can assist with weight loss.
- It’s widely available in most grocery stores and is relatively budget-friendly.
- Many stevia extracts are 50-400 times sweeter than sucrose.
- It’s keto-friendly.
Cons of Monk Fruit Extract
- Monk fruit extract comes in granules, powders, and liquids, but is typically not available at a standard supermarket, “as it is difficult to grow,” says Mobin. This makes it a bit inaccessible for most people.
- It’s typically more expensive, given that it’s seen as a “specialty item.”
- Some people do not like the taste or aftertaste of monk fruit, says Mobin.
- Mobin says, “manufacturers may add other ingredients,” and often, the other ingredients are additional sweeteners or food additives, like dextrose or maltodextrin.
Cons of Stevia Extract
- Highly refined stevia extracts can cause mild side effects such as nausea or a feeling of fullness.
- Some may find an unpleasant aftertaste.
Should You Use Stevia or Monk Fruit Extract?
When both are compared, monk fruit extract has more benefits and does not appear to have as many side effects, says Mobin.
However, there are other factors to consider.
Monk fruit is typically more expensive, so stevia may be a better option for those on a budget.
Monk fruit is also not as widely accessible as stevia, though there are online options for delivery.
Where to Buy Monk Fruit Extract
While many regular supermarkets might not yet carry monk fruit, you can find many options online or at Whole Foods. Some may be blended with other sweeteners, which is something to look out for! Here are a few options:
- Monk Fruit in The Raw, on Amazon (FYI- this is a blend!).
- Julian Bakery Pure Monk, on Amazon.
- Organic Monk Fruit Zero Calorie Liquid Sweetener, on Luckyvitamin.com (this product contains alcohol).
- Lakanto Classic Monkfruit Sweetener, at Whole Foods (also a blend).
Where to Buy Stevia Extract
Stevia is much more widely accessible than monk fruit. You can find it at most grocery stores, Target, drugstores, and online. Keep in mind that some are pure, while others may be blends with other sweeteners. Here are some options: