Luo Han Guo is a cousin of the cucumber, and a member of the gourd family of fruits. It bears a round, smooth, dusty green-brown fruit that is covered with fine soft hairs, and a hard but thin shell.
Luo Han Guo, a perennial vine, mostly grows in southern China on the steep mountains of Guilin were it has sufficient shade and warmth to flourish. On these mountains, in the 13th century, Buddhist monks used the herb for its medicinal properties and this is how Luo Han Guo got its name. Guo is a term for gourd like fruits and luohan describes an advanced Buddhist practitioner. The Chinese also call Luo Han Guo the longevity fruit because the area where it grows has an unusually high number of residents that are centenarians!
Common Name: Lo Han Guo
Botanical Name: Siraitia grosvenorii (formerly called Momordica grosvenori)
Other Names: Lo Han Guo, monk fruit, arhat fruit, longevity fruit
Growing Area: Native to Southern China and Northern Thailand
Nutrients & Applications:
Luo Han Guo contains substantial amounts of amino acids, minerals, vitamins and fructose but, it is a group of substances in this fruit called mogrosides, that make Luo Han Guo seriously sweet. After drying the fruit it is processed into a powder that is 80% mogrosides, making this powdered extract more than 250 times sweeter than sugar. Amazingly, the mogrosides are also responsible for some of the health benefits associated with Luo Han Guo.
Dried fruits are used as a main ingredient in cooling drinks and teas. In Traditional Chinese Medicine Luo Han Guo is cool in nature so it is used to balance heat build – up; as an analgesic, antitussive, expectorant, and to treat congested lungs and sore throat. It also is used to help elimination in the elderly and relieve digestive distress.
Luo Han Guo contains no calories, and as a low-glycemic food it can be used as a sweetener in beverages and cooked food making it a suitable sugar substitute for diabetics and those wanting to lose weight. Research suggests it does not elevate insulin levels, raise cholesterol or stimulate fat storage.