Diabetes Diet: The Natural Sugar Substitute Luo Han Guo
In the 13th century, a fruit in the gourd family called Luo Han Guo was reportedly cultivated and eaten by monks in a mountainous region of Southern China.
Now, eight centuries later, Luo Han Guo, commonly known as monk fruit, has been developed into natural sweeteners that may be of interest to those with diabetes for two reasons:
- Luo Han Guo, or monk fruit sweeteners do not elevate blood glucose levels.
- A Luo Han Guo sweetener is completely or nearly calorie free (some sources claim up to 2 calories per serving).
Monk fruit sweeteners stay stable at high temperatures, so can be used as a sugar substitute when cooking or baking, or to sweeten beverages—and users report it has no bitter, or chemical aftertaste.
Monk Fruit and Diabetes
The Chinese have long considered monk fruit a longevity food, a reputation that may rest on its abundance of vitamin C, protein, and the 18 amino acids it provides. Yet, few people outside Asia ever partake of fresh Luo Han Guo because it doesn’t travel well, and is said to have an unpleasant taste. Once dried, though, this fruit acquires a delicious caramel-toffee flavor, and can be easily shipped.
In traditional Asian medicines, monk fruit is known for its capacity to support the immune, digestive, endocrine, and respiratory systems. It was used to treat a variety of illnesses including heart disease, cancer, and allergies.
Today, some scientists are interested in the positive effects that the fruit seems to have on diabetes processes. For instance, though it is extremely sweet, monk fruit is associated with reduced blood sugar, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels, and it supports liver and kidney function.
Research reported in The British Journal of Nutrition revealed that lab animals having diets supplemented with monk fruit had less albumin (protein) in their urine, strongly suggesting the fruit protects against cellular damage, and promotes healthy kidney function.
Using A Monk Fruit Sweetener
If you’re interested in trying a monk fruit sweetener, Lakanto is a readily available product that blends Luo Han Guo with non-GMO erythritol*. Lakanto appears and tastes like table sugar, is vegan, gluten-free, has no additives or artificial flavors, and is formulated to be used as a 1:1 sugar placement. It is available for purchase on the Lakanto website, and at Amazon.
Another way of enjoying monk fruit is to make some Luo Han Guo tea. Just slice one dried fruit in half and simmer it for a half hour in two quarts of water. Strain and enjoy the tea hot or cold.
*Erythritol is a naturally derived sweetener found in certain fruits and fermented foods.