Commonly found in the practices of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Luo Han Guo is a sweet herbal tea, rich in flavour and medicinal benefits. If you’re ever feeling gloomy and sick and are repulsed by pungent cough syrups, your parents or elders would have recommended a sip of the ancient Luo Han Guo.
What is Luo Han Guo?
Most people know Luo Han Guo as a sweet beverage that the elders urge us to drink because it is “good for us”. But Luo Han Guo in its purest form is not a drink, but a fruit.
Luo Han Guo is also called the monk fruit for the shape that looks like a stone, about the size of a lemon, with earthy colours and a hard shell. They are native to Southern China and Northern Thailand and are said to grow in mountainous regions only.
Luo Han Guo, the drink, is made from drying the stone fruit and boiling it alongside herbs like goji berries, dried longan, dried chrysanthemum flowers and winter melon strips for extra flavour. Together, the Yin (cold) and Yang (hot) properties of the ingredients work in harmony to create a well-balanced drink, which according to TCM practices can help relieve minor issues like sore throat, inflammation, lung congestion, coughs and constipation.
Despite its medicinal benefits, Luo Han Guo tastes nothing like bitter medicine. The fruit tastes 300 times sweeter than sugar – thanks to an element called mongrosides – and the drink often requires zero additional sweeteners to enhance its taste. This goes to show how mighty and full of flavours this little fruit is.
Process of making Luo Han Guo
To create a Luo Han Guo drink, one needs to wash the fruit before breaking the fruit into smaller chunks. Throw the fruit chunks into a pot of boiling water and let it simmer for 20 minutes to make the taste come through. After that, other ingredients can be added to the mixture.
Benefits of Luo Han Guo
A single serving of Luo Han Guo contains only 144 calories and is completely free of artificial sugars. Besides being a healthier alternative to other Kopitiam beverages, here are its other benefits that are useful to know if you’re hesitating to give the drink a try.
- Contains anti-inflammatory properties
Mongrosides, being sweet aside, it is said to help stabilise sugar levels and address inflammatory issues like phlegm and sore throats.
- Combats allergies
For those of us plagued by regular asthma attacks, Luo Han Guo perhaps provides a much-needed solution. Research has shown its extract can prevent mast cell triggers, therefore lowering histamines and eventually getting rid of allergies completely.
- Boosts immunity
Luo Han Guo contains a great deal of Vitamin C for fruit so small. This results in increased production of white blood cells and collagen, which can help repair cells, blood tissues, and blood vessels.
- Promotes weight loss
With its low caloric value, Luo Han Guo does not contain any carbohydrates or fats, which is perfect for people who are watching their kilos. However, one must still be cautious as some store-bought Luo Han Guo may contain added artificial sweeteners which may trigger insulin levels and increase the drink’s calorie count.
- Controls diabetes
Touted as nature’s sweetener, Luo Han Guo is ideal for diabetic patients as it does not spike blood sugar levels, unlike sugar or other artificial sweeteners. This way, patients can still satisfy their sweet tooth without compromising on their health.
Where to Find Luo Han Guo in Malaysia
Familiar as they come, you can find the Luo Han Guo drink at any Chinese restaurant or hawker centre in Malaysia. The Luo Han Guo fruit itself can be found at most Chinese herbal shops or Asian grocery shops. You can also get this dish from Shu Xin Vegan Café.
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