Native to the northern parts of Thailand and Southern parts of China, Siraitia grosvenorii or the monk fruit has been long used for its medicinal and healing properties. It has been considered that this fruit can fight against numerous health problems from minor illnesses to the most serious cancer. Hence it has been used for centuries as a medicinal fruit in China. It is also known as Buddha fruit and luo han guo. This is zero calorie fruit that is very sweet in taste. In fact it is said that the monk fruit tastes almost 250 to 500 times sweeter than sugar. Because of this property, Siraitia grosvenorii is becoming more and more popular as a natural sweetener. This fruit has been considered to be first used by the Chinese monks and hence the name monk fruit. Since the monk fruit comes from the region of china where many people have lived for a hundred years or more, it is also referred to as the longevity fruit.
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Nutritional value of Siraitia grosvenorii
Siraitia grosvenorii or monk fruit is abundant in healthy nutrients and antioxidants, but what makes it truly exceptional is its wonderful taste and natural sweetness. Unlike other sweeteners, monk fruit’s great sweetness does not come from sugars like fructose or sucrose. Rather it is unique in that the sweetness comes from naturally occurring type of antioxidants called mogroside which provides the sweet taste. The advantage in this case is that you can get the natural sweetness without adding calories of sugar. In addition to the antioxidants monk fruit also contains considerable amounts of protein vitamins like vitamin C, minerals (like iron, manganese, nickel, selenium, molybdenum, iodine, and others), amino acids, and carbohydrates like glucose and fructose.
Health benefits of monk fruit
Although monk fruit is relatively new to other parts of the world, it has been used for centuries by the Chinese as a remedy for many diseases and health conditions.
Siraitia grosvenorii and cancer
According to research conducted at Nihon University in Japan, monk fruit has the potential to fight cancer cells. This property can be attributed to the presence of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents that improve the immune system and fight off the free radicals. As per the studies, monk fruit contains antioxidants that exhibited extraordinary inhibitory effects on the growth and development of skin cancer in test animals.
Siraitia grosvenorii protects the heart
Oxidation of bad cholesterol or LDL cholesterol is often responsible for the accumulation of plaque in arteries, which in turn increases the chances of strokes and heart disease. Studies reveal that the mogrosides found in Siraitia grosvenorii have powerful antioxidant properties that are capable of preventing the oxidation of the bad cholesterol and hence prevent heart diseases. Monk fruit is also known to increase the levels of good cholesterol or HDL and lower the levels of triglycerides, LDL and total cholesterol.
Siraitia grosvenorii is good for diabetes
According to a study published in the online issue of Nutrition Research (April 2008), monk fruit extract helped in lowering the blood sugar levels and hence is helpful in managing diabetes. In spite of the extremely sweet taste, monk fruit has zero calories and is a low glycemic index food that produces no considerable spikes in the blood glucose levels. Those who are looking for a zero calorie natural sweetener should definitely give the monk fruit sweetener a try.
Siraitia grosvenorii for asthma and allergies
Scientists have discovered that monk fruit has antihistamine effect that helps in calming the cells that are responsible for releasing chemicals like histamine that are associated with producing asthma and allergies.
Siraitia grosvenorii relieves constipation
Monk fruit is used in Chinese medicine to regularize bowel movements and to prevent digestive problems like constipation.
Monk fruit is good for the lungs
The extract made from monk fruit is helpful in loosening phlegm and in relieving congestion of the upper respiratory tract and the lungs. Hence it is used as an effective remedy for common cold, coughs, sore throats, pneumonia and flu.
Siraitia grosvenorii inhibits aging
Siraitia grosvenorii is packed with powerful antioxidants that fight off the free radicals and delay the process of aging.
Monk fruit for fever
Monk fruit has the amazing ability to lower body temperature and hence is a very useful remedy for fever.
Siraitia grosvenorii helps in weight management
Although a natural sweetener, monk fruit is a zero calorie fruit that does not add on calories. Hence it is an ideal food for people who want to maintain a healthy weight.
Siraitia grosvenorii as a thirst quencher
Monk fruit is a very good thirst quencher and its cooling effects to the body help in fighting heat strokes. For getting relief from heat strokes, break open a monk fruit and stir it in boiled water. Drinking this infusion can give you a cooling effect as well as quench your thirst.
Culinary uses of Siraitia grosvenorii
In addition to the many medicinal uses, monk fruit is also used in the culinary field not only as a sweetener but also for preparing various sweet and savory dishes.
Monk fruit tea
A most common way of incorporating monk fruit into your regular diet is to make an herbal tea out of it. Since the fruit itself is a sweetener, addition of other sweetening agents is not required while making this tea. For making the tea, the fruit is cut open and the inside of the fruit is scooped out and boiled in water. In order to enhance the flavor and aroma of the herbal tea, you can even add other herbs like turmeric and ginseng and even the petals of fragrant flowers. The tea can be served either hot or chilled depending on the individual’s taste.
Monk fruit and watercress soup
Watercress soup is yet another way of using this versatile and tasty fruit. The soup is made by boiling water that contains watercress, the inside of monk fruit until you obtain a soupy broth. Other ingredients of your preference can also be added to this soup. Season the soup with the right amount of salt and pepper and allow it to cook for about 30 to 45 minutes. Once the soup is cooked, remove the pieces of the monk fruit and serve the soup with hot rice. Addition of this fruit imparts its medicinal qualities as well as sweetness to the soup. This soup provides immense relief for people suffering from sore throat, cough or flu.
Monk fruit in desserts
The natural sweetness of the monk fruit makes it an ideal ingredient in many kinds of desserts. When using this fruit to make desserts there is no need to add extra sugar. Desserts can be prepared by using fresh monk fruit or its dried form. People often use the extract of this fruit as a substitute for sugar while baking. A popular dessert made in china during the Chinese New Year celebrations is the different kinds of mooncakes. One such variety of mooncake that makes use of the sweetness of monk fruit is the green tea monk fruit jelly mooncake. The other ingredients that go into the making of this delicious mooncake include red dates, winter melon, longan fruit, agar agar and green tea.
Monk fruit for making cool drinks
The flesh of monk fruit can be boiled with for about an hour and the resulting liquid can be used to make tasty cold drinks. Other fruits or ingredients can also be added to the drink as per your choice. Not only does this drink provide a cooling effect, it is also an effective remedy for the common cold and sore throats.
Savory dishes using monk fruit
Despite the fact that Siraitia grosvenorii is used as a natural sweetener because of its very sweet taste, it is also used making different kinds of savory dishes, especially those containing pork. Pork shank soup and sweet pork and are two delicious savory dishes that use monk fruit extract as an important ingredient.
Siraitia grosvenorii has become the latest trend now. This super fruit with all its health benefits is becoming popular all over the world. It is seldom consumed in the fresh state since it does not store well and ferments quickly, giving rise to bad flavors. Although there are several natural sweeteners, monk fruit definitely sticks out from the rest because of its numerous healing properties and health benefits.