What You Need to Know about Nectresse, the Zero-Calorie Sweetener

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I turned the corner and headed down aisle #6--the baking section of my local grocery store--eyes peeled for the "new kid" on the shelf. The new zero-calorie sweetener, Nectresse from the makers of Splenda.  There it was, in canister and packet form. The label read: "100% natural" and "made from monk fruit."  Really?  100% natural?  Made from monk fruit? 
Now, it was time to investigate.
What is monk fruit?  Monk fruit (a dark-green, plum size fruit) comes from the plant, Siraitia grosvenorii, which is native to southern China and northern Thailand. The fruit also goes by the names Swingle fruit, Buddha fruit, luo han guo or luo han kuo. This fruit is noted for its intense sweetness, which comes from naturally occurring sweet constituents called mogrosides. In pure form, mogrosides are up to 300 times sweeter than table sugar.  There are five different mogrosides, numbered from I to V, with mogroside V being the desired component.  To remove the interfering components and aromas, manufacturers used an ethanol solvent solution
How do they extract the sweetener? The end product is a powdered concentrate of mogroside V which is about 150 times sweeter than table sugar (depending on the mogroside V concentration).  This non-nutritive sweetener is calorie-free and diabetic-safe, as it does not raise blood sugar levels.  The powdered concentrate is very soluble in water and ethanol, heat stable, and can be stored for long periods of time without changes in taste, smell, or appearance.  
Is it safe to eat? It is classified by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS).  Therefore, it can be used as a tabletop sweetener, as a food and beverage ingredient (gums, baked goods, snack bars, candy, drinks, etc), or as a component in other sweetener blends (since it may have an aftertaste at higher levels on its own).  There is very preliminary research investigating possible health benefits—anti-cancer properties, antioxidant activities, benefits for diabetes with insulin production.  However, much more research is needed before any health claims can be made.
What is in Nectresse? And is it 100% natural?
Nectresse is neither 100% monk fruit nor the powdered concentrate mogroside V, which would have a strong aftertaste.  Rather, Nectresse is a mixture of ingredients (listed from greatest to least amounts):  erythritol, sugar, monk fruit extract, and molasses. 
  • Sugar and molasses are pretty self-explanatory.  They are added to give the artificial sweetener a more sugar like flavor. 
  • Monk fruit extract is the term used for the powdered concentrate mogroside V.
  • Erythritol is a sugar alcohol.  While sugar alcohols do occur naturally in some fruit, scientists have learned how to retrieve them and use them to sweeten foods.  Since they are metabolized differently, they provide fewer calories per gram than other carbohydrates and have less impact on blood sugar levels. 
What's the nutritional value? There are one to two grams of carbohydrate per serving from the ingredients erythritol, sugar and molasses. However, these ingredients contribute so few calories per serving that Nectresse meets the FDA’s criteria for a no-calorie food – less than five calories per serving.

  Canister, 1/4 tsp
(1.2 grams)
1 Packet, 1/2 tsp
(2.4 grams)
Calories 0 0
Carbohydrates 1 gram 2 grams
Sugar < 1 gram <1 gram
Erythritol < 1 gram 2 grams
So if Nectresse contains all these other ingredients, is it really "100% natural"?
No, it's not 100% natural.
While all the ingredients in Nectresse can be found naturally in a food—the forms in which most appear in this sweetener have had some man-made interventions.
I've said the same thing about artificial sweeteners touted to be "all natural."
However, while I do have trouble with the marketing, I have no problem with the product.  I see it as a tasty addition that can add sweetness for fewer calories. This product has not been as extensively studied as other sweeteners on the market.   While it is safe to use—moderation is still important, as with all artificial sweeteners. Buy it and try it. See if you like it and report back.   
If it's a "zero-calorie sweetener," can I eat as much of it as I want?
For people with diabetes and/or those on a weight-loss plan, amounts up to one teaspoon per meal are considered a "free food." If you use more than this, consult with a dietitian about counting the carbohydrates and calories in your eating plan.
Can I bake and cook with it?  
Yes, you can.
Nectresse is granulated like sugar and dissolves easily. It is heat-stable in baking. In sweetness, 1/4 teaspoon Nectresse is equal to one teaspoon of sugar, or one packet is equal to two teaspoons of sugar.
When baking with alternative sweeteners, such as Nectresse or Splenda, choose a recipe that has been specifically developed to use such ingredients rather than altering your own. Once you try an existing recipe (check out the Nectresse website for Apricot Fig Cinnamon Rolls, Apple Cinnamon Pancakes, Peanut Butter Granola and more), you can start experimenting with your own.

Have you tried Nectresse? Will you? If so, what did you think?

Photo credit: Nectresse media gallery

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There is a lot of current research about artificial sweeteners and sugar on our health and waistline. I have chosen to not eat any artificial or sugar substitute. I also am very aware of any added sugar in foods and try to avoid it as much as possible. Can be a challenge but it is doable (for example ketchup has loads of sugar but there are sugar/sweetner free brands out there). Report
Nectresse was the best sweetener every made. Sadly, it is no longer
sold. I still have a few jars I use sparingly. I keep hoping some one
will introduce a similar combo soon. Report
Thank You!! This looks like what I've been looking for to replace the raw Honey I adopted to replace sugar in my diet. Sounds like its worth the risk(too much goes on today with processed food). Again, thanks so much for being on top of this and sharing. Have a great day!! Report
I will probably stuck with splenda. I thought the article was well researched. Report
Thank you very much for reviewing this in analytical way that describes the ingredients and what each of them are as well as how they are derived. I think of all of this before I purchase any sweetener. Report
I am just curious why any dietician would recommend less than real food? I brew my coffee with ground cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg and a touch of real vanilla. I put it all right in the grounds and brew it in the french press. It adds just enough sweetness to satisfy this coffee addict! Report
I haven't tried it. I won't necessarily avoid it, if it ends up in products I like, so be it. Generally, I prefer aspartame. It doesn't have the odd aftertaste like splenda. None of the no-calorie sweeteners are natural, neither is sugar for that matter. I have yet to see granulated sugar spring forth from the ground. So it really doesn't matter to me. All I care about is the taste. Report
I'm violently sensitive to monk fruit. These days, I have to carefully read all labels because they hide it in the most amazing foods. Report
I really like it and buy it regularly. Report
Nectress tastes bitter to me. I'll stick to stevia, honey, or agave nectar. Report
I have not tryed Nectresse yet but I have tryed "Monk Fruit In The Raw" and enjoy using it to sweeten coffee. It does not taste the same as sugar but it is a nice alternative. Report
Thanks for the info about this product. Report
I'm always looking for an artificial sweetener without a nasty after-taste. This one is worse than Splenda and about the same as Stevia. Tastes terrible in coffee. Maybe I'll try baking with it since I own some and I'm not using it. It's also very expensive. Report
No, I won't try it. Has SparkPeople done the same type of investigation with Stevia? Report
I wish they would be honest about the calories in Nectreese. Less than 5 calories per serving can still (and probably does) mean that it's 4 calories per serving. 1 serving is one quarter of a teaspoon - there are 48 teaspoons in a cup. 48x4 (quarters of a teaspoon) x 4 calories = 768 calories per cup. 384 calories per 1/2 cup divided by 12 servings (if a recipe makes a dozen) is 32 calories per serving just for the "calorie free" sweetener part. 8 calories per packet (roughly 1/2 teaspoon) is not zero calories. It does not seem like much but people like myself use multiple packets in their coffee thinking they are adding no calories.  Report
I got a couple of free sample packets also, but I have not tried them yet. I appreciate you informing us the contents and the fact that it is not 100% natural like they would have you believe. I have been using xylitol which has less calories than sugar and is suppose to have a low GI. Report
Most artificial sweetners give me stomach pain, being obese and prediabetic things were looking grim. Then I saw an ad for Nectresse and checked it out. To me, it has a bit of a fruity taste. I like it in tea, but not so much in my coffee. I haven't tried baking with it yet as it is too expensive to buy in bulk. Report
Yes I tried it! BLECH! Thought it was bitter AND too expensive. Will stick to
Splenda (on occasion) and Sugar in the Raw (turbinado sugar)..... Report
I don't use artificial or no-calorie sweeteners. I would rather use a whole food like honey or a product that is as minimally processed as possible. GMOs and franken-foods scare me Report
I think I'll pass on this new sweetener. The fact that USDA has given it approval is more a warning sign to me than an assurance. After all, their recommendations for the last 50+ years have caused us a lot of nutritional ills. I've also heard some things - and I can't remember what now, only that I "wrote off" - about monkfruit.

Our prescribed diet allows us only Splenda (or equivalent) for sweetener. This has been working for us for over 2 years now, and I'm a pretty fair proponent of the "if it ain't broke, don't try to 'fix' it."

An interesting new product...I have a coupon for it. I think the coupon will find its way to the "round file" shortly. Report
I can't figure out how a packet can have 2 carbs and no calories!??? What am I missing? I noticed a comment about stevia being expensive. It grows easily where it is warm. In Florida, plants are available at Walmart. And when I crumple a leaf in my tea, it gives just enough sweetness!! So the WHOLE FOOD can be as close as your patio! Report
I agree with SOAPSANDROPES and avoid all sugar substitutes. Artificial sweeteners contain chemicals. I prefer raw sugar and am careful with how much I consume to keep my calories in check. Report
As someone who never uses artificial sweeteners for myself, I don't like any of them. I use Splenda for my Dad who is Diabetic. I have been experimenting with Stevia for the chocolates and it tastes terrible. Even Splenda has a noticable aftertaste to me. While in the store yesterday I saw this new monk fruit sweetener and opened and tried it ( I know but I refure to pay $6 for something and not like it ). Guess what? I liked it! It does have a slight aftertaste but nothing like the others. I bought it and made some peanut butter cups today, they were great, I would eat them and I really dislike sugar free candy. So my opinion: if you have never tried it, don't knock it. If you have never used artificial sweeteners, try this one if you are looking for one with very little aftertaste. Report
Great article, thank you. I got a free sample (2 packets), and tried it mixed into my plain yogurt. It's ok, but Splenda tastes better in the yogurt, makes it taste like vanilla. I'll stick with the Splenda, I don't use it often anyway. Report
I think I'll stick with Stevia..... Report
I think that the marketing is totally wrong, they'll struggle to get the 'All Natural' claim endorsed in the UK.

I expect it to be out of the reach of 'normal' people's budgets like Stevia is. The price is prohibitive. Report
TY very informative I saw this in the store the other day and was wondering about it. Report
I use it sparingly because it is high priced. So far no complaints Report
Funny how many peopel do not liek artificial sweeteners, but when you have diabetes like me there are not many alternatives. Some poeple would say honey but I don't like honey. I can't afford agave nectar so Splenda it is. I do very little baking but when I do the Splenda works well. I don't find an after taste. I use a packet in my cereal several times a week. I believe there is a place for these items in your diet in moderation like anything else. For those of us who need it I see no problem with it. As for the "new" sweetener I'll stick with the Splenda. Report
There are no legal definitions for the term "Natural" in regards to labeling products. Natural in this case is a marketing term. Report
Thank you for taking the time to educate us about this. I had wondered about this product and would like to try it I love splenda, but this was new and I was going to wait and see type of approach with it but since your wrote this I am now more willing to try it. Thank you.

Great article. I have always been wary of artifical sweetners that claim to be natural. What I really didn't get was the one that claimed "Its made from sugar, but its not sugar". No one could ever explain why is that to my satisfaction. You did great in explaining that in this article(Iam sure one could apply this to other sweetners). I have trained my taste buds to like unsweetened coffees and teas, etc. If I want a desert, I just have a extra small serving every now and then. Now if only I could train myself like this for the salty snacks. Report
I try to follow Michael Pollan: "Eat food...." This stuff is not food. Report
Thanks for the article. I appreciate any product that makes it easier to maintain a well balanced lifestyle - and since I like sweets (as clearly do a great number of people) reducing the overall caloric "load" is great. Just like most things in life, moderation is key. That includes processed vs non-processed foods. Report
Lots of varying opinions stated above. Think I'll wait on this one. Report
Thank you for the infomative article. I do not use artificial sweetners, so I probably won't try. Also, sugar alcohols do not agree with me. Report
I don't use any artificial sweetners. Report
All processed stuff scares me. Since coming to SP I've eliminated sugar by reducing the amount over time. It is nice not buying sweeteners or sugar. This might be a tool, to get off sugar... but a permanent replacement, that is not a true change. Report
"The first and most abundant ingredient in Nectresse is actually erythritol, a sugar alcohol commonly derived from corn, the vast majority of which has been genetically modified (GM) in the U.S."

ectresse_ingredients.html Report
I love Nectresse! I find it to have no after taste like EVERY other sugar substitute I have found, and it does not have all of those chemicals in it like most substitutes. I have tried Truvia and i don't like it either! Report
never heard of it yet . Coming soon to a store in Canada! But seriously it bothers me when they label something as GRAS . Report
I only use natural sugar..produced locally from our sugar Cane crops..or Natural honey from a local bee keeper here on my Island home...I never buy the fancy stuff! Report
I gave it a try. It tastes artificial, so I am not surprised that it is artificial. Just give me real sugar Report
Thank you! I've been wondering what it really was and how it works when baking and cooking. My fave is sugar replacement is Truvia, but I may give this a try. I'll have to check out the cost compared to Truvia. Report
I've seen this in stores and I was wondering about it. This article answered all my questions, and I appreciate reading the comments on the taste and price. I think I'll be passing on this product. I use a little bit of Truvia in my tea, but that's the only time I use artificial sweeteners. I don't drink soda anymore and for everything else, I use the real thing. Report
I have tried it & it is absolutely delicious although a little on the pricey side! Report
I think I mght give it a try if I find it in the store. I use splenda. I do not like the after taste. It might be worth the switch. Report
It cost over $6 for a tiny jar of it. The 1/4 tsp. serving size did not even come close to sweetening my coffee. I had to use a rounded teaspoon to get any sweetness at all. The jar it came in is cute, however, and I will reuse it, so I don't feel it was a total waste of money. Report
There are SO many sugar alternatives to consider, thanks for the information about this one. I might have to give it a try. Report
Ugh, another fake food. I will NEVER eat artificial sweeterners. I find it annoying that you can't even buy chewing gum without them any more. Any time you start "processing" a whole food, you destroy the natural balance of the food and it normally does bad things to our body. I'm sure we will start hearing about side affects from this in the coming years. Just not worth the risk. Report