Monk Fruit vs. Stevia: The #1 Problem to be Aware Of

Written by Claire Hannum
Medically Reviewed by Felicia Newell, M.S., RDN

June 27, 2023

Thanks to monk fruit and stevia, cutting out sugar feels way less daunting. These two natural sweeteners started out as really good, healthy sugar alternatives—until they weren’t. Too often, food brands use deceptive marketing practices to mislead anyone trying to avoid artificial sweeteners.

This is the case for both monk fruit and stevia.

In this blog, we’ll cover the difference between monk fruit and stevia, and the number one thing to know when shopping for foods and beverages that have these two natural sweeteners.

Monk Fruit vs. Stevia: What's the Difference?

Monk fruit and stevia are both natural sweeteners with zero calories. They have a lot in common, but a few minor differences set them apart.

Monk fruit is a small gourd native to Southeast Asia. It’s 150-200 times sweeter than sugar, and has no carbs, sodium, calories, or fat (1). In its raw form, monk fruit has no known negative side effects, and even includes antioxidants (2, 3).

Stevia comes from a South American plant known as Stevia rebaudiana. Stevia is even sweeter than monk fruit, packing a punch that is 200-300 times sweeter than sugar (4, 5). Explains why its nickname is “candyleaf.”

Both monk fruit and stevia have been enjoyed for hundreds of years, and for good reason. With hundreds of times more sweetness than sugar—and a glycemic index of zero—what’s not to love? When enjoyed in raw form, they’re about as sweet and healthy as it gets.

Where Things Can Go Wrong Monk Fruit & Stevia

But there’s a catch. A catch that’s often hidden in plain sight.

When monk fruit and stevia first hit the mass food market, they started off as fantastic natural options. But then, like so many consumer products, the original raw ingredients were manipulated (i.e., artificial sweeteners were added).

This led to a 32% spike in packaged food purchases containing sucralose (Spenda) over the span of just 10 years (from 39% in 2008 to 71% in 2018) (6). Yikes. The worst part: brands aren’t very transparent about artificial sweeteners on their packaging. They’ll smack “sugar free”, “naturally sweetened”, or “zero calorie” on the label to entice consumers—all of which can be misleading for those trying to avoid artificial sweeteners. .

One such example of this is a brand that ironically named itself “Monk Fruit in the Raw.” Despite its name, it contains large amounts of the sugar alcohol, erythritol. So much so that it’s listed as the first ingredient on its packaging, meaning that there’s more erythritol than there is actual monk fruit. That doesn’t sound like raw monk fruit to me.

NativePath Blog Post Image

Another brand known for doing this is Lakanto, so keep your eyes peeled for erythritol when doing your grocery shopping

NativePath Blog Post Image

The reason sugar alcohols can be an issue for some people, is because your body can’t properly digest them. They pass through your body unchanged until they arrive in your colon. Once sugar alcohols reach the colon, they can cause bloating, gas, and cramps for some people. 

Erythritol is a stand-out among other sugar alcohols, because most of it is absorbed into your bloodstream before arriving in the colon, but it’s still associated with potential digestive side effects (7). Erythritol can cause stomach discomfort, nausea, and headaches. 

Recent research indicates a link between erythritol and increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and clotting. Multiple recent studies have shown a possible connection between erythritol and thrombosis, adverse cardiac events, and clotting, and research is ongoing to find the potential mechanism behind erythritol and cardiovascular health ( 8, 9, 10).

Raw stevia and monk fruit without erythritol don’t carry such risks, and they still provide all the sweetness you’d ever need.

The NativePath Promise

The food industry can make eating healthy confusing and complicated. It’s frustrating to reach for a product you believe aligns with your health values and goals, only to find out it has hidden ingredients such artificial sweeteners or sugar alcohols that you may be trying to avoid or limit.

At NativePath, we get it. We want you to have the highest quality  ingredients nature has to offer. That’s why in our products, you’ll only see pure monk fruit and stevia in their rawest form. Nothing artificial, ever. There’s a reason we chose the name NativePath. We believe in sourcing ingredients from nature, not a laboratory. Because you have enough worries each day, let us worry about putting the best ingredients into our products and into your body.

The Bottom Line

Raw monk fruit and stevia are safe, healthy sweeteners that are 150-300 times sweeter than sugar—but they should only be enjoyed in their raw, pure form. 

Some popular brands selling monk fruit and stevia add sweeteners like erythritol to the product, introducing negative side effects and health risks. To be sure you’re getting the most beneficial forms of these natural sweeteners, look closely for misleading packaging and reach for raw monk fruit and stevia.

Frequently Asked Questions

No, raw monk fruit does not raise your blood sugar, which makes it a good option for people with diabetes.

Claire Hannum
Article by

Claire Hannum

Claire Hannum is a New York City-based writer, editor, wellness seeker, and reiki practitioner. Her writing has appeared in Self, Health, Prevention, and over a dozen other publications.

Read More
Share onfacebook

    Medical Disclaimer

    This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Chad Walding nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, or lifestyle program.

    Leave a Comment