Monk fruit, a globose fruit of 5-7 cm diameter, contains the unique Mogroside 5, a triterpene glycoside, found to be 400 times sweeter than cane sugar. With a GRAS status for use in edible products, it is considered a futuristic low calorie sweetener with large potential in the food industry. The fruit growing on the herbaceous vines of perennial nature, is a native of Southern China and Northern Thailand and Chinese population has been using its juice for sweetening foods for the past 1000 years with no ill effects reported. Now the product in its pure form has been made for commercial application in New Zealand.
"The New Zealand-based company suggests that the sweetener, made from concentrated monk fruit, or luo han guo, could be blended with a range of natural sweeteners, including sugar, Reb A, or fruit concentrates in formulations to improve taste and cost efficiency.The sweet components of monk fruit – naturally very low in energy – are mogrosides, a type of triterpene-glycoside. When extracted from the fruit and concentrated, the mogrosides are up to 300 times sweeter than sugar, meaning that the sweetener could be used in very small quantities".
Monk fruit Mogrosides cannot be strictly called a Zero Calorie sweetener as being promoted in some quarters since it has 2.3 kC per gm as against 4.5 kC for cane sugar but its sweetness being much higher,one gram of Monk fruit Mogroside preparation can replace about 300 gm of sugar, equivalent to 1350 kC in foods when incorporated. Considering that Monk fruit is not a commercially grown horticulture produce by the organized sector, how far it can play any significant role in low calorie sweetener landscape remains to be seen.