Good question right? Stevia is healthy, but it can also be unhealthy based on my findings. Read on to learn a little more!
The Reason for Research
My mom reached out to me recently wondering if Stevia was a good sugar substitute. She has suffered with migraines for many years. Many different substances can trigger a cycle of headaches.
I had switched to Stevia several years ago after I learned about the dangerous side effects of Sucralose and Aspartame. However, I thought Stevia was Stevia and often bought what was on sale at the store. To be honest, I was not very thorough about checking the ingredients list.
I do not use a lot of Stevia, but I probably consume a few packets a week in my Greek yogurt and oatmeal. It also is often part of my baking recipes so I can reduce the sugar content.
Like anything else, a perfectly healthy substance can be ruined if it is so far adulterated that it no longer resembles its original form. A lot of bigger food and packaging companies have caught on to the fact that “Stevia” is a new buzz word in health. For example, Truvia is a big name brand often found in grocery stores and certain coffee shops.
Stevia vs. Truvia
There is a big difference between Stevia and Truvia. Unfortunately, Truvia which is the adulterated product, is much easier to find and typically less expensive. Stevia is extracted from a plant and is minimally processed. Its sweet leaf is used as a sweetener and sugar substitute. Stevia is 300 times sweeter than sugar so a little goes a long way. Stevia has a negligible effect on blood glucose. It may even enhance glucose tolerance. So unlike sugar it is not going to spike your insulin. Stevia does have a little bit of an aftertaste. I have been using it for a while and do not really notice it much. However, it does take a little bit of an adjustment.
Truvia is a Stevia-based sugar substitute, developed jointly by The Coca Cola Company and Cargill. It is distributed and marketed by Cargill as a tabletop sweetener and as a food ingredient. If you look closely, Truvia consists just partly of stevia extract. It also contains rebiana, natural flavors and mainly erythritol, a natural sugar alcohol.
In a nutshell, Truvia goes through an extensive process before it makes its way to us. I also read some articles that indicate that the rebiana and erythritol are possibly coming from genetically modified sources which is furthering adulterating it. It is far removed from the actual Stevia plant.
Plan of Action
As always you need to be cautious about the brands you are buying and read the ingredients list. Sweet Leaf is a safe brand choice. I have purchased it in the past at Whole Foods, but it can be harder to track down. I currently have an organic brand from a local manufacturer in Austin. I also have a flavored brand called Stevita which I often add to certain drinks.
However, I would avoid using Truvia. You are going out of your way to make a “good” choice and you do not want your efforts being undone by not buying a quality brand.
Question of the Day: What is your sweetener of choice?
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