What is Lo Han Guo?

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By Dr. Sara Solomon, BSC PT, DMD

Did you know the average North American consumes 160 pounds of sugar a year?1 That’s the equivalent of eating 25 sugar cubes per day or 9125 sugar cubes annually! It’s a well-known fact that excess sugar consumption is implicated in obesity. According to the American Heart Association’s (AHA) report published in the journal Circulation2, several studies have linked high sugar intake to insulin resistance, high blood pressure, high triglycerides and type 2 diabetes. And let’s not forget about dental decay!

The abovementioned harmful effects of sugar explain why many people are turning to natural sweeteners such as stevia and lo han guo. Stevia, as we all know, is derived from the extremely sweet leaves of the stevia plant that grows in Paraguay and Brazil. It contains no sugar and no calories and it will not spike your blood sugar levels, making it a friendly option for dieters, diabetics, health conscious people … and your teeth3!

What is Lo Han Guo?

Lo Han Guo

Lo Han Guo is an exotic fruit extract that has been commercially available since the mid 1990’s. This extract has zero calories and zero glycemic impact, making it safe for diabetics and hypoglycemics to use.4

Lo han guo is a round green fruit (Siraitia grosvenori) that belongs to the Curcubitaceae family, along with the cucumber, melon, squash and gourd. It grows in warm, humid and shady areas in southern China, mainly in the Guangxi Province. Lo han guo is seldom eaten fresh because it is difficult to store and it quickly ferments, creating unpleasant flavours.4.5

The sweet taste of lo han guo is attributed to the mogrosides, which are a group of terpene glycosides known to be 250 times sweeter than sucrose.5

A process for isolating the sweet components of the fruit (mogrosides) and eliminating the undesired flavours was patented in 1995 by the Proctor and Gamble Company.5 The resulting luo han guo extract was a neutral tasting sweetener that was granted “Generally Regarded as Safe” status by the US FDA in 1997.4 You may have even noticed it in your foods and supplements, including Quest Nutrition Bars, which can be purchased at bodybuilding.com.

quest sara 2
Quest Bars use Lo Han Guo.

Nutritional Facts for Lo Han:

NuNaturals Lo Han Supreme:
• Per 10 drops: Calories 0, Fat 0g, Saturated Fat 0g, TransFat 0g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 0mg, Carbohydrate 0g, Fiber 0g, Sugar 0g, Protein 0g
• 10 drops are about as sweet as 1 tsp of sugar.
A 2008 study demonstrated the positive impact the mogrosides extract had on the health of diabetic mice. When the extract was administered for 4 weeks, a decrease in the mice’s blood sugar, total cholesterol and trigycerides was noted, along with an increase in HDL (“good”) cholesterol. It was concluded that the extract may have the capacity to inhibit hyperglycemia induced by diabetes, and the data suggests it may be helpful in the prevention of diabetic complications associated with oxidative stress and hyperlipidemia.6

But the question remains, will the results found in the mice apply to humans?

Lo han guo is a great zero calorie sweetener for diabetics or for anyone who wants to reduce their sugar intake. Try using Lo han guo in your baking as a sugar substitute.

Dr. Sara Solomon is a writer and spokesmodel for Bodybuilding.com, the most visited bodybuilding and fitness website in the world. Dr. Solomon is a practicing dentist (DMD) in Toronto, Canada, and holds a Bachelor in Science in Physiotherapy. This certified personal trainer, spinning instructor, professional fitness model and cover girl is known around the world for her jump rope skills and her “Dr. Sara Solomon Cross Speed” Jump Rope by Buddy Lee Jump Ropes. Dr. Solomon, a former Oxygen Magazine Weight Loss Success Story, knows firsthand the challenges of juggling a busy career with a healthy lifestyle, which is why her blogs for Gaspari Nutrition and Oxygen Magazine focus on endurable, maintainable and time-saving approaches for fat loss. If you want to take the hell out of healthy, then visit www.drsarasolomon.com for her high intensity YouTube workouts, her intermittent fasting practices, and her healthy recipes, which have been featured on CityTV’s “Look I Cook”, Lifetime’s “The Balancing Act,” and in Dr. Sara Solomon’s Healthy Recipes Ebook on amazon.com.

1. O’Connell, Jeff. Sugar Nation: The Truth Behind America’s Deadliest Habit and the Simple Way to Beat It. Hyperion, 2010.
2. Howard, Barbara & Wylie-Rosett, Judith. Sugar and Cardiovascular Disease. Circulation. 2002; 106: 523-527 http://circ.ahajournals.org/content/106/4/523.full.pdf+html
3. Richard, David. Questions and Answers about Stevia: http://www.stevia.com/Stevia_Article/Frequently_asked_questions_FAQ/2269
4. Luo Han Guo – Another Sugar Alternative: http://www.healthyfellow.com/211/luo-han-guo-the-sugar-alternative/
5. http://www.itmonline.org/arts/luohanguo.htm
6. Xiang-Yang Qi. et al. Mogrosides extract from Siraitia grosvenori scavenges free radicals in vitro and lowers oxidative stress, serum glucose, and lipid levels in alloxan-induced diabetic mice. Nutrition Research. Volume 28, Issue 4, p. 278-284, April 2008. http://www.nrjournal.com/article/S0271-5317(08)00036-5/abstract