Luo Han Guo, a Healthy Sweet

Luo Han Guo, a Healthy Sweet


Luo Han Guo is a very sweet fruit native to southern China. This amazing fruit is 300 times sweeter than sugar, with virtually zero calories, and has been used as a natural sweetener and a medicinal property in China for nearly a millennium.


Literally meaning "arhat fruit" or "monk's fruit," Luo Han Guo is one of several that have been called the "longevity fruit." It is grown primarily in the southwestern Chinese province of Guangxi, as well as in Guangdong, Guizhou, Hunan and Jiangxi. These mountains lend the plants shade, and are often surrounded by mist.


Dried fruits are part of the daily life in the provinces where they are grown. They are stored and used for drinks, teas, soups, candies, cakes and crackers that are consumed all year long. Records show that Luo Han Guo has been cultivated in the Guangxi province since 1813. Currently, the largest plantation is in the Guilin mountains, covering 16 square kilometers. During the Tang dynasty, Guilin was one of the most important Buddhist retreats. Luo Han Guo was named after a group of Buddhist monks who, due to their proper way of life and meditation, achieved enlightenment.


In addition to being a flavor-filled natural sweetener, this miracle fruit has also been used as a medicinal herb for various kinds of ailments, and is popularly considered in southern China to be a longevity aid. Based on the concept of traditional Chinese medicine, the fruit is a time-tested remedy for heatstroke and cooling the body in hot climates. It also helps relieve cough and sore throat. Historical records show that Luo Han Guo was frequently used as early as the early 20th century, as the main ingredient in cooling drinks—drinks consumed to counteract hot weather, fever or disorders described as warm or hot in nature.


Luo Han Guo is harvested in the form of a round, green fruit, which becomes brown when it is dried. Since it is hard to store, it is rarely found it in its fresh form, and the fruits are usually dried before they are sold in Chinese herbal shops. This limits the use of the dried fruits and extracts to teas and soups, and as a sweetener for products that would usually have sugar or honey added to them. There are a number of commercially prepared Luo Han Guo products. The extracted fresh and dried fruit is usually processed into a powder, comprised of at least 80 percent mogrosides. The powder dissolves in water and the taste is unaffected by cooking, making it an ideal natural replacement for artificial sweeteners.