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Stevia vs Monk Fruit: Which is Better?

Stevia vs Monk Fruit

Both stevia-derived low-calorie sweeteners and monk fruit extracts have been gaining popularity among health-conscious consumers looking for more natural ways to sweeten their foods and drinks while keeping their caloric intake at a healthy level. But which one of these two sugar-free sweeteners is better? Here's a comparison of some of the most interesting aspects of stevia- vs monk fruit-based sweeteners to help you figure out which one is better for you:


According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the terms "calorie-free" and "zero calories" can be used in the labeling of a food that contains less than 5 calories per reference amount customarily consumed and per labeled serving (1). Purified stevia extracts and pure monk fruit powder are so intensely sweet that the amounts needed to sweeten a cup of tea or a specific dish are tiny, which is why these sugar-free sweeteners in their purest form can be considered calorie-free.


Both monk fruit and stevia extracts are considered high-intensity sweeteners. Monk fruit extracts have been reported to be 100-250 times sweeter than sugar (sucrose), while steviol glycosides purified from the leaves of the stevia plant are around 200-400 times sweeter than sugar (2). It is important to note, however, that many monk fruit and stevia based sweeteners contain fillers and other ingredients that may have an impact on the overall sweetness score of the product.


Monk fruit has a long history of use in China where it has reportedly been cultivated since the 13th century and where it is officially considered both a food and a medicinal plant by the country's Ministry of Health (3). When North Americans started to show interest in the potential use of monk fruit as a weight loss aid, also the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) received several GRAS (generally recognized as safe) notices from food companies arguing that monk fruit extracts are safe for use as high-intensity sweeteners. Since 2010, the FDA has received and reviewed several such notices and has not objected to the use of these extracts (4). The FDA has also received, and not questioned, GRAS notices for certain highly purified stevia products. It has not, however, approved whole leaf stevia for use as a food additive due to inadequate toxicological information. (5).

Culinary Uses

Stevia-based sweeteners are commonly used in beverages and desserts. As the sweet compounds in stevia are heat-stable, even at around 400 ° (6), stevia extracts are also well-suited for use in baked goods and other foods that require heating. The culinary uses of monk fruit extract are similar to those of stevia. But before using stevia or monk fruit based sweeteners, keep in mind that they are not sugar, and they won't caramelize and brown in baked goods the same way sugar does (unless, of course, they contain additional ingredients that do caramelize).


In many cases, it is the idea of a pure, plant-derived sugar-free sweetener that gets people interested in monk fruit- or stevia-derived sweeteners. However, high-intensity sweeteners such as refined stevia and monk fruit extracts are routinely mixed with ingredients like dextrose (corn sugar), erythritol, inulin fiber, molasses, or even cane sugar to create products that are easier to use in culinary creations. If you would like to use a product that does not come with a long list of ingredients, try SweetLeaf's stevia sweeteners or PureMonk's monk fruit powder. SweetLeaf has received tons of awards, and their non-liquid version only contains inulin fiber and USDA-certified organic SweetLeaf Stevia Extract (you can order it through Amazon here). If you like monk fruit better than stevia, you might want to check out Julian Bakery's one-ingredient monk fruit powder which is available through Amazon here.

Book You May Like
Sugar Detox Guide
In her New York Times bestseller The 21-Day Sugar Detox, nutrition counselor Diane Sanfilippo presents a Paleo-friendly, whole-foods-based nutrition action plan designed to bust your sugar and carb cravings naturally. All sources of sugars, including maple syrup, coconut sugar and honey, are banned during the detox, as are high-intensity sweeteners including stevia. Fruit consumption is limited to a single serving per day of fresh grapefruit, green apple, or green-tipped banana. To learn more, go to Amazon.