Monk Fruit: How to Formulate With This Popular Natural Sweetener

Monk Fruit: How to Formulate With This Popular Natural Sweetener

Formulas For Success is a monthly educational series from our leading formulation experts that covers the basics and fundamentals of trends in product formulation. Each time we’ll be featuring an emerging ingredient or combination of ingredients and sharing the key tips you’ll need to discover your own formula for success.

Monk fruit, also known as Siraitia grosvenorii or Lo Han Guo, is a natural high-potency sweetener that is 100 – 250 times as sweet as sugar. It’s an ingredient commonly used by food & beverage product manufacturers for sugar reduction and replacement. In such applications, it comes with the added benefit of being labeled as a fruit. When developing a product formulation with monk fruit extract, there are important considerations for formulators to keep in mind.

Benefits of Monk Fruit

In addition to being a zero-calorie sweetener, monk fruit extract is rich in Vitamin C as well as other nutrients that offer a variety of benefits:

  • Kaempferol, a flavonoid with antimicrobial and antioxidant effects
  • Triterpene glycosides, compounds that reduce the growth of tumor cells
  • Antioxidants mogroside I-V which inhibit oxidative damage
  • Cucurbitacins, compounds with anti-inflammatory effects
  • Polysaccharide fibers, which may lower cholesterol levels

The Monk Fruit Market

Among the variety of natural high-potency sweeteners, monk fruit is the second most popular among consumers, ranking behind only stevia. A recent International Food Information Council (IFIC) survey shows consumers are more likely to consume monk fruit over sucralose and other low-calorie options including aspartame, saccharin and more. The market size for monk fruit, estimated at $720M, is expected to steadily widen. Forecasts show a CAGR of 4.8% from 2020 – 2025, according to a recent IndustryARC report.

Consumer preference for monk fruit and stevia vs. other low calorie sweeteners

Monk Fruit Purity Levels

The main sweetener in monk fruit is the antioxidant mogroside V. The typical indicated range of this antioxidant is 10 – 90%. Nascent Health Science’s team of formulation experts continuously experiments with the full range of monk fruit purity levels and have found that the best overall value is most consistently at 40 – 50%. At that range, we’ve found a cleaner taste and higher sweetness than lower purity levels. Monk fruit at very high purity levels may taste slightly cleaner, but it comes at a significantly higher cost. We generally recommend starting with 50% purity as it is the most common level. We have found the maximum use level to be about 175 ppm for monk fruit at 50% purity. Beyond that, you’ll begin to notice too many off-notes, especially in the aftertaste, which some describe as “fruity ginger”.

Note: At the 50% level, monk fruit extract is not always clearly quantified, where different suppliers may have slightly different taste and sweetness profiles. At Nascent, we conduct thorough testing when choosing suppliers and regularly test quality to ensure consistency.

Regulatory Status of Monk Fruit

Monk fruit is currently approved in limited countries, including the US, Canada, China, Japan, South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. However, its regulatory approvals are expected to expand globally to the rest of Asia and Latin America, while the EU is also anticipated to approve the extract soon. Monk fruit juice and concentrates are available to those countries that allow the fruit juice in finished products. The concentrate can be labeled as a natural flavor in FEMA-following countries when used below 60 ppm in a beverage. Other application usage limits can be found on the FEMA site.

Formulating With Monk Fruit And Stevia

It is reported in literature that monk fruit has synergy with stevia. However, we have not found significant synergy with the combination at our recommended use levels. We believe the perceived additional sweetness comes from how the sweetness intensity curve is shaped. Like many high-potency sweeteners, the sweetness graphs for stevia and monk fruit are curved and not the straight line you’d see with most bulk sweeteners.

To illustrate this, we use an example formula which originally had 300 ppm of stevia that was replaced with 200 ppm of stevia and 100 ppm of monk fruit. The lowered use level of stevia inherently provides higher sweetness per ppm of stevia as shown in the graph above. The 100 ppm point on the monk fruit is also on the steeper part of its curve. The monk fruit graph depicts mogroside V 50% in acid and has less of a sweetness plateau than stevia. Although the combination in this example does provide a sweetness increase, there appears to be less of a true synergy between the two ingredients and more so instead, they simply complement each other.

Successfully complementing monk fruit with stevia requires an understanding of monk fruit’s sweetness profile. It has a slower sweetness onset compared to most sweeteners, and can thereby prolong the sweetness impact when combined with other sweeteners. Such combinations help to mask the aftertaste you’d otherwise experience from other natural sugar alternatives. When researchers experimented with early formulations using stevia and monk fruit, they were likely using stevia high in stevioside and Reb A, forms of stevia which can produce off-notes at high usage levels. In such scenarios, the addition of monk fruit was sensible in helping to mitigate some of the aftertaste from stevia.

Since those early formulations with monk fruit and stevia, new better-tasting glycosides of stevia have become more widely available and commercialized. The benefits of monk fruit with stevia have diminished in favor of glycosides like Reb D and Reb M. However, there is still an overall sweetness boost benefit if Reb D and M are used at high levels. Monk fruit can be added to products that require high sweetness at a potential lower cost-in-use since the stevia sweetness plateaus at high usage levels (reference the graph below).

Sweetness Profile of Stevia, Monk Fruit and Sucrose

Sample Monk Fruit Application

A demonstration of an application utilizing monk fruit is presented below as mogroside V 50%. In this sugar-free jelly demonstration, the Nascent team replaced sugar utilizing a combination of sugar alcohol, Reb A stevia, and monk fruit.

Ready to create your own formula for success? Partner with us and learn more about formulating in new applications with monk fruit. Contact one of our expert consultants for your product development and formulation needs!

Nascent Bolsters Stevia Supply Amid COVID-19 Global Supply Chain Shortages

Nascent Bolsters Stevia Supply Amid COVID-19 Global Supply Chain Shortages

An upsurge in demand for sugar alternatives, coupled with production and logistical challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, have caused significant supply chain disruptions for ingredients such as steviol glycosides, crystalline allulose, and erythritol. Product shortages have also caused longer lead times and prices have increased, further exacerbating matters for many manufacturers of food and beverage products dependent upon sweetener ingredients.

Here at Nascent, we have been focused on reinforcing the availability of our broad range of ingredients, including all grades of stevia from Reb A through Reb M — in both conventional and certified organic varieties — as well as a complete portfolio of 1:1 sugar replacement solutions. While some ingredient companies and suppliers have struggled with delays and shortages due to the continued fallout from COVID-19, we are pleased to inform customers that we are fully stocked on all stevia extracts, blends and flavors. Our inventory levels remain abundant in all our warehouses across the US, with dozens of metric tons of product available today.

Nascent Stevia Supply in US Warehouses

Nascent’s availability of supply is largely thanks to our continuous R&D efforts with Zhucheng Haotian Pharm Co., Ltd. (ZCHT), the world’s largest manufacturer of natural stevia extracts. Along with manufacturing economies of scale and its abundance of leaf supply, ZCHT couples high-efficiency extraction methods with high-yielding plant varieties to achieve the most economical and sustainable portfolio of targeted glycosides.

In addition to meeting supply shortages in this challenging market, Nascent has continued providing strategic consultation services with our customers on optimal formulation solutions, managing changing costs for ingredients and forecasting consumption trends.

For more information regarding our available ingredients and formulation advisory services, please reach out and connect with the Nascent Health Sciences team.

How to Use Inositol in Successful Product Applications

How to Use Inositol in Successful Product Applications

Formulas For Success is a monthly educational series from our leading formulation experts that covers the basics and fundamentals of trends in product formulation. Each time we’ll be featuring an emerging ingredient or combination of ingredients and sharing the key tips you’ll need to discover your own formula for success.

The Inositol Molecule
The Inositol Molecule

Inositol is often referred to as vitamin B8, but it isn’t actually a vitamin at all since it can be produced by our bodies from glucose. It is found naturally in foods like cantaloupes, citrus fruits, corn, rice, and beans. As a functional ingredient, inositol is most commonly added in product applications such as infant formulas, energy drinks, animal feed, cosmetics, and supplements. 

Properties of Inositol

Inositol is a sugar alcohol that is about 48% as sweet as sugar and possesses a similar flavor profile. It can easily be added to most food and beverage products since it has a clean taste at most common usage levels. It is easily soluble in water and is relatively stable in heat as well as acidic or alkaline conditions. While there isn’t a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), most sources suggest consuming 100 – 1000mg per day. For treatments of certain conditions, 1 – 12g may be needed. However, usages above 12g may exhibit side effects such as nausea, aches, tiredness, and dizziness.

Product Applications For Inositol

Infant Formulas

As breast milk is naturally rich in inositol, manufacturers of infant formulas may be interested in adding inositol into their products to promote metabolism or hair growth, and to help babies sleep. In formulation, 22mg or 100kcal could be utilized, which is the average amount found in breast milk.

Energy Drinks

Many popular energy drinks contain inositol, as it not only aids the nervous system, providing structure to cells, but also helps modulate serotonin levels. Serotonin is a key hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings, and happiness. Some studies show that inositol may prevent neutral fat accumulation, helping the body to burn fat. Inositol is a key ingredient in our PQx™ Prevail sports performance beverage at 300mg/serving.

Animal Feed

Inositol may be safely used in feed or pet food as it may help in regulating metabolism and improve fur/hair growth. Aquatic creatures, birds, cattle, and dogs may benefit from this ingredient. Typical usage levels are 250 – 3000mg/kg.

Cosmetics

Inositol, also known as rice water in some beauty products, may have water-binding properties for skin and hair. It may also help maintain healthy cell membranes. As the first chart below shows, inositol at a concentration of 1% is a cost-effective use level for moisturizing skin. At 1%, inositol has been shown to have the best effect after 2 – 3 weeks of continuous usage, as illustrated in the second chart below.

The FDA has confirmed inositol is safe for use in cosmetics.

Supplements

There is some evidence that inositol may have benefits when taken as a supplement. It can affect the neurotransmitters in your brain, including serotonin, and may be beneficial for treating anxiety and panic disorders. It may also aid blood sugar control by improving insulin sensitivity. And it may improve fertility in women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) by assisting in balancing hormones. Inositol may also reduce symptoms of depression. Typical usage levels for treatments are 2 – 18g or lower levels for supplementation. As with any supplement, we encourage consumers to check with a medical professional to further understand the potential health benefits before treating with inositol.

Recommended dosage of inositol for foods and beverages

Inositol Hexanicotinate

The Inositol Hexanicotinate Molecule
The Inositol Hexanicotinate Molecule

A similar product we produce is inositol hexanicotinate, also known as inositol hexaniacinate, inositol nicotinate, and inositol niacinate. The body converts these ingredients to inositol and free nicotinic acid so it produces a slightly sweet taste. It may be used as a source of Niacin (Vitamin B3) or used to widen blood vessels and increase blood flow. At 3g/day, it may improve blood circulation for people with Raynaud’s Syndrome — those who suffer from pain in their fingers and toes when cold due to poor blood circulation. In Europe, it is sold as the drug Hexopal.

No. 1 Global Manufacturer of Inositol

Inositol is a core ingredient of our health supplements and cellular nutrition portfolio. Nascent Heath Sciences is the world’s largest and leading supplier of inositol. Our inositol is extracted from only non-GMO corn, making it an ideal choice for clean-label product applications.

Ready to create your own formula for success? Partner with the world’s largest manufacturer of inositol and learn more about formulating in new applications with inositol. Contact one of our expert consultants for your product development and formulation needs!

Crystal E® Natural Vitamin E for Brain, Skin, and Vision Boosting Benefits

Crystal E® Natural Vitamin E for Brain, Skin, and Vision Boosting Benefits

Formulas For Success is a monthly educational series from our leading formulation experts that covers the basics and fundamentals of trends in product formulation. Each time we’ll be featuring an emerging ingredient or combination of ingredients and sharing the key tips you’ll need to discover your own formula for success.

In our last edition, we illustrated how to achieve sugar reduction in bars using our original formula for a granola crisp bar as an example. Although the formula showcased a variety of sweetening solutions, it can also serve as a great demonstration of how to boost the health and nutritional value of food & snack products with the functional ingredient Vitamin E.

What Are The Benefits of Vitamin E?

Vitamin E is a nutrient that’s important to vision, reproduction, and the health of your blood, brain, and skin. The key to these benefits of Vitamin E is its powerful antioxidant properties. The process of oxidation and accelerated aging takes place in our bodies when cells are exposed to molecules called free radicals. Although free radicals form as a result of normal body processes, they can weaken and break down healthy cells. These molecules cause damage that shortens the life of our cells and may contribute to heart disease and cancer. The antioxidant Vitamin E may help reduce free radical damage and slow the aging process of cells. To take advantage of these benefits, the recommended daily dosage of vitamin E for adults is 15 milligrams a day.

Crystal E® Natural Vitamin E Powder

As a part of Nascent’s portfolio of health supplements and cellular nutrition ingredients, Crystal E® Vitamin E Powder is our brand of natural Vitamin E for manufacturers of food & nutrition products. Crystal E® is stable, readily bio-available, has good flowability, and preserves vitamin E’s original form as α-tocopherol (based on the FDA’s updates to the new supplement facts panel in the US, Vitamin E is now required to be labeled as α-tocopherol).

Crystal E® is co-crystallized to a stable, crystalline powder without any chemical modifications or an encapsulation process. It is available in its original form from a natural source (d-α-tocopherol ) by way of our patented production process. The current acetate form produced by esterification destroys its natural properties, making it less bio-available and reduces its antioxidant capabilities. Microencapsulation typically uses gelatin, an animal-based ingredient, but a plant-based starch form is also available at a higher cost.

Typical Vitamin E oil decomposes by roughly 22% over 4 weeks when stored at an accelerated temperature of 60˚C, whereas our co-crystalized product stays stable. Crystal E® was also shown to be much more stable when mixed with minerals or exposed to light. Minerals typically accelerate the decomposition of vitamins.

Stability Graph of Crystal E® Vitamin E vs. Vitamin E Oil

In a tablet or pill application, Crystal E® only needs 26% of the mass compared to synthetic α-tocopherol acetate powder (50%) due to its higher concentration of α-tocopherol. The higher concentration also has environmental and sustainability benefits because it doesn’t consume acetate anhydrate or silicone dioxide in the production process, and generates savings on packaging, shipping, storage, and production equipment costs.

Comparing the Cost of Crystal E® vs. Other Commercial Vitamin E Products

Here is a general cost comparison to the most common Vitamin E types on the market, including natural, semi-synthetic, and synthetic forms of Vitamin E.

TypeProduct NameForm% of D-a Tocopherol1.0kg D-a-TECost per kgCost for D-a-TE
Pure NaturalD-α-tocopherolUnstable Oil100%1$95 per kg$0.095 per gram
Pure NaturalNatural Crystal E®Powder85%1.18$110 per kg$0.129 per gram
Semi-SyntheticD-α-tocopherol acetatePowder45%2.22$60 per kg$0.133 per gram
Semi-SyntheticD-α-tocopherol succinatePowder81%1.23$70 per kg$0.086 per gram
SyntheticVitamin E 50% Starch-based, No SiO2 or gelatinPowder22%4.55$30 per kg$0.135 per gram
SyntheticVitamin E 50% SiO2-basedPowder22%4.55$33 per kg$0.148 per gram
SyntheticVitamin E 50% Gelatin based (animal sourced with Al SiO2)Powder22%4.55$11 per kg$0.05 per gram

For a 90 count 15mg dosage product, the cost of Natural Crystal E® equates to $0.17 per bottle.

Ready to create your own formula for success? If you’re interested in learning more about formulating with Crystal E® Vitamin E Powder, contact one of our expert consultants for your product development and formulation needs!

Isomalto-Oligosaccharide (IMO) for Sugar Reduction in Bars

Isomalto-Oligosaccharide (IMO) for Sugar Reduction in Bars

Formulas For Success is a monthly educational series from our leading formulation experts that covers the basics and fundamentals of trends in product formulation. Each time we’ll be featuring an emerging ingredient or combination of ingredients and sharing the key tips you’ll need to discover your own formula for success.

Last time, we covered formulation tips for the dietary supplement Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ) and featured a sample formulation in an energy bar. That generated interest amongst our readers in learning more about how to best formulate for sugar reduction in bars. It’s a common question our experts are asked since replacing sugar in a bar comes with unique challenges and requires a careful consideration of ingredients. For such product applications, we often turn to the prebiotic ingredient Isomalto-Oligosaccharide (IMO).

What is Isomalto-Oligosaccharide?

IMO is a sweet bulking syrup produced from starch using enzymes. In the US, it is no longer considered a fiber but rather a prebiotic ingredient (Canada, however, does still count it as a fiber). The syrup has 3 calories/gram, 0.75 carbs/gram, 0.075g of added sugar/gram, and is approximately 34% as sweet as sugar. The taste profile is fairly clean, particularly at lower use levels but high use levels may present a taste similar to that of pine needles. IMO is available from corn or tapioca sources and can be applied in syrup or powdered forms.

The Challenges of Sugar Reduction in Bars

Substituting sugar in a bar is much more complicated than substituting sugar in a beverage, where water can be used to replace sugar in a 100% formula. When removing syrups in a bar, the binding capability in a bar is impacted. Another hurdle when reformulating a bar is the need to maintain a 100% formula. One change in an ingredient’s percentage necessitates a need to change the percentage of something else in the formula.

Something that will also be important to consider in the formulation of a bar is shelf life — namely, stopping the bar from hardening. Choosing ingredients that do not tend to harden over time is essential. It’s recommended that close attention is paid to ingredients such as the syrups/binders, lecithin, gums, fibers, sugars, and the addition of glycerin or something similar that helps maintain softness.

Isomalto-Oligosaccharide (IMO) Formulation Example

To solve for these challenges of reducing sugar in bars, IMO is an ideal sweetener to use. To illustrate IMO in action, we created a granola crisp bar as a sample formulation. In this bar, we removed 50% of the brown rice syrup and countered with the addition of IMO syrup, stevia, and some more of the toasted oats. A balance of binding capacity and dry ingredients needs to be considered when making these types of changes.

To calibrate our mix of sugar reduction ingredients, we experimented with multiple syrups including Nascent’s allulose syrup and our other dietary fiber syrups. However, the other syrups didn’t have the binding capacity of the brown rice syrup and the bar fell apart more easily. If one were to formulate with a lower reduction goal than the 50% removal, the other syrups would likely be acceptable. In the findings from our testing though, Nascent’s isomalto-oligosaccharide (IMO) exhibited the best binding capabilities, similar to that of brown rice syrup.

Additional Ingredients to Consider

When using a binder in bars, it can be very sticky and manufacturing customers will likely need measures to prevent the bar from sticking onto their rollers when producing at commercial scale. The addition of oil will help but you will then need to add an antioxidant to slow oxidation over shelf life. As part of our ingredients portfolio, Nascent offers a patented Vitamin E which preserves the original α-tocopherol form for increased bioavailability. This can be added as a natural preservative for the oils in the bar.

Fiber is a common ingredient to be added to bars. Nascent has multiple fibers that can be included in bar formulations. In our granola crisp bar example, inulin was chosen as it also helps with the binding capability.

Another common ingredient in bars is proteins. Soy is a popular choice among manufacturers for a plant-based protein. Nascent can help identify other sources of protein powders such as pea or fava bean. Our technical teams regularly conduct thorough evaluations of top suppliers and can offer expertise on which powders offer the cleanest taste at a relatively low cost.

The delicious – and attractive – finishing touch for our bar is the chocolate coating. It can be drizzled on top, bottom coated, or fully enrobed. While the coating has a higher melting point than typical chocolate, a controlled-temperature distribution is likely needed to prevent the coating from melting during shipping.

Need the recipe for the granola crisp bar? Or ready to create your own formula for success? If you’re interested in learning more about formulating with Isomalto-Oligosaccharide (IMO), contact one of our expert consultants for your product development and formulation needs!