As you most likely already know, fructose is most commonly found in fruit, which does include monk fruit (also known as luo han guo, la han qua, arhat/buddha fruit, or by it’s weirdly English Latin name, Siratia Grosvernorii); however the Luo Han Guo-based sweetener is made by extracting the super-sweet mogrosides which have all of the sweetness but none of the fructose. Monkfruit is very difficult to get over here in the UK, as it hasn’t yet been approved by the European Commission as a sweetener.
Chemically, the Luo Han Guo sweetener is a combination of mogrosides extracted from the fruit (which is initially done using just water, and a little ion exchanging), comprising a chain of glycosides that occur naturally in plants and animals.
The pure form of Luo Han Guo extract is incredibly sweet, and as a result most commercially-available products bulk it with something else: Monk Fruit in the Raw uses dextrose (a powdered form of glucose), Nectresse is bulked with Erythritol.
The process of extracting the mogrosides for sweetness is an interesting one, because the raw fruit itself is actually a pretty terrible candidate; it contains a number of compounds that contain sulfur, which can lead to a fairly horrific smell, and upon ripening give the fruit a combination of pretty awful, bitter flavours. Subsequently, a process was patented that would extract the mogrosides and strip out the unwanted flavour profiles. The resulting compound is about 300 times sweeter than sugar by weight.
I have personally used Monk Fruit in the Raw (I had to buy it via eBay, as Luo Han Guo isn’t approved as a sweetener in the EU; however it has been approved in the U.S. since 2010) and found it to have a warming taste, albeit somewhat artificial.
|Luo Han Guo (Monk fruit)||Sugar|
|Sweetness Where table sugar has a sweetness of 100%||3000%||100%|
|Glycemic Index Where glucose has a G.I. of 100||0||65|
|Calories per teaspoon Where a teaspoon is, on average, 4g||0||16|
There are no known side effects of Luo Han Guo on humans, and it has been used for centuries in its native China as a sweetener and a medicinal herb. It has a Generally Recognised as Safe status, and approved by the FDA since 2010 as a sweetener, but does not yet have approval in the EU.
Due to Luo Han Guo’s anti-inflammatory properties, it has been studied as a potential anti-cancer and anti-diabetic agent (source).