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What are Monk Fruit Extract and Sugar Alcohols? Everything You Need to Know About the Popular Sweeteners

What are Monk Fruit Extract and Sugar Alcohols? Everything You Need to Know About the Popular Sweeteners


Nunbelievable’s low-carb cookies are a delicious treat for anyone counting calories or seeking a low-sugar lifestyle. They have just 1 to 2 grams of net carbs and about 100 calories per serving, which means you can enjoy a tasty snack that allows you to indulge without added sugar. They’re also gluten free! The secret to this heavenly recipe isn’t actually a secret: We use monk fruit extract and the sugar alcohol erythritol to maximize taste without adding carbs or calories.

But what exactly are monk fruit and sugar alcohols and what are their benefits?

Monk fruit (also known as luo han guo) are sweet, melon-like fruit native to China. The monk fruit extract is harvested from the juice of the fruit, and when combined with erythritol it creates an ideal sweetness that is low in calories, which has helped make it a popular sugar substitute in recent years.

Sugar alcohols — which include erythritol, xylitol, mannitol, and sorbitol — are sugar substitutes that are added to many foods and snacks to boost sweetness without increasing calories. These carbohydrates feature a structure that yields a significantly lower caloric content than regular table sugar. For example, table sugar contains about 4 calories per gram, while erythritol only has about 0.2 calories per gram. (Other sugar alcohols may have between 2 and 3 calories per gram.)

And despite their name, sugar alcohols do not contain any ethanol (the intoxicating agent in beer, wine, and liquor) so you won’t get drunk from eating foods that contain them!

Most sugar alcohols are actually less sweet than table sugar — erythritol has been found to be about 70 percent as sweet as regular sugar — but since it takes far smaller quantities to create a satisfying taste, the end result is fewer overall calories for the same level of sweetness you crave. Monk fruit extract is much sweeter than table sugar, so small quantities are all that are needed to deliver the desired taste.

Of course, foods made with sugar substitutes should be consumed in moderation. As with regular table sugar, the calories will add up if you overindulge. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans released by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health & Human Services (HHS), added sugars and saturated fat should comprise no more than 15% of your daily caloric intake. For most Americans, that equates to about 250 to 350 calories per day.

As a rule of thumb, aim for no more than 10-15 grams of sugar alcohols a day. Beyond that and you’ll be defeating the purpose of a sugar substitute. Also, when consumed beyond the recommended quantities, some sugar alcohols can trigger gastrointestinal issues, because they aren’t completely digested by the body. But erythritol tends to be readily absorbed by the GI tract, reducing those complications.

Erythritol is also gluten free and a healthier alternative than regular sugar for people who must monitor their blood sugar levels. “What makes it a good substitute for people with diabetes is that you won’t see blood sugar spikes with sugar alcohols nearly as high as with sugar,” says registered dietitian nutritionist Kristen Carli, Nunbelievable’s nutrition consultant. “Erythritol creates a really good opportunity for people with diabetes to not miss out on [snack-filled] celebrations and fun life events without sending yourself into diabetic shock.”

Nunbelievable’s wholesome low-carb cookies are available in four mouth-watering flavors: chocolate chip, double chocolate chip, pecan sandy, and snickerdoodle. Order them here, and remember: for every purchase you make, we donate a meal to one of our impact partners working to solve the hunger crisis in America. We’ve already donated more than one million meals and you can help us reach our target of 10 million meals by the end of 2023.


Nunbelievable Inc.

Nunbelievable Inc.