I recently warned you about the hazards of using artificial sweeteners such as Splenda (sucralose). Originally marketed as “made from sugar,” Splenda actually contains added chlorine molecules, so it’s not something I’d ever recommend consuming.
Artificial sweeteners in general have a host of toxic effects, as do many artificial chemicals used in the environment. Tragically, the government regulates many of the environmental chemicals more closely than these artificial sweeteners.
Furthermore, consuming artificial sweeteners appears to affect the body in the same way as eating too much sugar and carbs. So, it all seems pointless anyway.
Fortunately, you have many natural, healthier alternatives to add a little sweetness to your foods.
Natural extract 300 times sweeter than sugar
One unique and naturally sweet compound comes from the Cucurbita family, native to the hot climate of southern China and northern Thailand and Vietnam. It is an herbaceous perennial vine. And its fruit extract is almost 300 times sweeter than sugar.
Chinese Buddhist monks first mention the fruit in their records in the 13th century. The plant then spread far and wide in Asia.
In China, they use it as a natural sweetener for beverages. And because of its antioxidant properties, it is used in traditional medicine to treat a number of conditions.
In India, from Sanskrit, they call the fruit arhat or “longevity fruit.” And in Vietnam, they call it la han qua. But you may know it by the Chinese name luo han guo.
The botanical name (Siraitia grosvenorii) comes from Gilbert Grosvenor, who served as President of National Geographic Society during the 1930s. During his tenure, Grosvenor green-lighted an expedition to southeast Asia to find the legendary plant.
Fortunately, you don’t have to explore the misty mountains of tropical Southeast Asia like Gilbert Grosvenor to obtain this potent natural sweetener.
Modern processing used to extract exotic sweetener
Proctor & Gamble actually created the modern process to extract the plant’s natural sweetness (which comes from a chemical compound called mogrosides). They had a lot of experience extracting plant compounds for making soaps. So it made sense they could develop a similar process to extract mogrosides from fruit.
For this process, the grower harvests the fruit before it’s fully ripe. They ripen it under controlled conditions so they can extract the mogrosides at precisely the moment of full ripeness. Then, they remove the shell and seeds, and they make the pulped fruit into a thick concentrate, like a puree. From there, the puree is dried into water-soluble crystals.
Speaking of Proctor & Gamble…
They have been around for a long time and have been very successful producing products for health and hygiene, which arguably controlled infectious diseases more effectively during the 20th century than any medical intervention. My colleague from the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Walter Gamble is a descendent of the Gambles who co-founded the company.
Walter studied under Dr. C. Everett Koop (1915-2013) at Penn, as I did, before Koop became U.S. Surgeon General. Walter also went on to became a very distinguished and successful physician, and his family donated his Gamble Family Trust (originally from P&G) to the University of Pennsylvania to create a scholarship fund so that no medical student selected to attend Penn would have to pay tuition. Today, I personally support the Gamble Fund at my alma mater, so that no medical student who attends the nation’s No. 1 medical school will be saddled with student debt.
Imagine if your doctor could choose a medical specialty and practice not motivated by having to repay hundreds of thousands of dollars before they even started working.
Now that would be sweet!
Thanks to this sweet innovation by Proctor & Gamble, lo han guo is available as a natural sweetener in natural food stores.
I also added this sweet-tasting Curcubita, lou han guo, as a natural sweetener in my new beverage mix supplement formula called CoreForce BioBlend. CoreForce BioBlend brings together five natural powerhouses — blueberry, baobab, rose hips, aspal (red bush), and lo han guo — to support healthy aging…for your heart, blood sugar, brain function, vision, blood pressure, inflammatory response, energy, and much more.
Especially at this time of year, you are probably more familiar with a related member of the Curcubita family — the pumpkin. Look for the October Insiders’ Cures newsletter, where I tell you all about the health benefits of pumpkin and pumpkin seeds.