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Stevia: How Sweet it is!

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by Brett Blumenthal

So we all know that sugar is not the best for our diets. It provides little to no nutritional value, excessive calories and can make our blood sugar sky rocket and quickly crash, leaving us somewhat lethargic and hungry. Long term effects of excess sugar in our diets leads to obesity.
Artificial Sweetners (Nutra-sweet, saccharin, Splenda and aspartame) can be even worse for you. Why? Because our bodies are not made to process chemicals, all of which these sweeteners are. Even Splenda. Although Splenda is perceived as “natural” and “is made from sugar,” it is actually the trade name for sucralose, a synthetic compound stumbled upon in 1976 by scientists in Britain seeking a new pesticide formulation. Although the Splenda molecule is comprised of sucrose (sugar), three of the hydroxyl groups in the molecule have been replaced by three chlorine atoms. Not something that our bodies naturally digest.

Some good news, however, is that there is a very safe, and natural option out there: Stevia. Stevia is a noncaloric herb, native to Paraguay. It has been used as a sweetener and flavor enhancer/spice for centuries. The United States has approved it as a nutritional supplement and is considered safe and healthy. You can only by it as a ‘nutritional supplement’ and not as a sweetener, but it can be used in a variety of ways to provide a sweet flavor to dishes and drinks.

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If you would like to learn more about Stevia, here are some resources:

http://www.stevia.com/
http://www.bodyecology.com/stevia.php
http://www.steviacafe.net/
http://www.stevia.net/

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Posted in Brett's Blog, Nutrition Tagged with: , , , ,
  • Paraleitheus

    Following some of your links. Another informative and well stated article. You ought to do a blog or something.

  • Lucy

    I use powdered stevia and it is good.

  • sarah

    I use the liquid bodyecology stevia drops and love it.

  • oscar

    where can i buy stevia?

  • http://www.sheerbalance.com Brett

    you can buy it in grocery stores in the supplement aisle. Often, Whole Foods, Trader Joes and other health food and supplement stores sell it.

  • Kim

    I buy Stevia powder at an online store called “Puritan’s Pride”. They almost always have a special of some kind so it’s inexpensive. I love to sweeten my tea with it!

  • Emile

    I get mine stevia powder from Trader Joe’s. I find it is more satisfying if I use it in combination with another type of sweetner. They enhance each other.

  • Sheryl

    Just a note to say that i don’t think stevia agrees with me and it doesn’t taste very good. Maybe I need to use less of it. I use one little packet and maybe a little of a second one for a 10 to 12 oz. mug of coffee.
    I bought some more Splenda as I do like it. I like aspartame a whole lot better but I guess aspaartame is the lesser of the two evils.

  • Rita

    I have been using Stevia liquid extract for over a year and I really like it, it has no aftertaste. I lost 20 pounds because I gave up using table sugar in my drinks. I highly recommend it!!!

  • Norma

    I buy stevia at most grocery stores, in the section with artificial sweeteners (Equal, Splenda, etc.)

  • Annette

    New at Kroger food stores: Truvia (powdered Stevia). It comes in convenient pkgs. It is found on the shelf right beside Splenda. Tastes much better than drops I have tried in the past!

  • stuart

    what about the toxicity concerns on the part of both the fda and health canada? granted, 1 mg/kg of weight may be a lot, but does this rais issues for pregnant/breastfeeding women or anyone else?

  • http://www.sheerbalance.com Brett

    The toxicity that you are mentioning has been under tons of debate, with most evidence saying that Stevia’s toxicity is non-existant. I will say that the FDA has not approved Stevia as a Food more because of food lobbyists who are afraid of Stevia’s impact on the sugar and artificial sweetener market. I’d be much more concerned with artificial sweeteners and chemicals than I would be of stevia’s toxicity.

  • Amelia

    I have been using the liquid stevia drops since I was a kid and this means for over 30 years. All my family members and many friends gave up table sugar and artificial sweetners many years ago, and heve been using liquid stevia.
    It’s largely availabe here where I live, Brazil, and we never heard of any toxicity in Stevia. I also think the food lobbyists are doing what they can for not having Stevia approved as a Food in the States. Believe me, it´s everywhere here, it´s cheap and it’s much better for us .

  • Paul

    You can find stevia en GNC stores. I used splenda but once i tried Stevia i change for it.

  • Mary

    I bought some seeds and grew a couple of plants in a pot this summer. The taste of the leaves was quite sweet, however I’m not sure how to use the raw plant. Does anyone have any suggestions?

  • Jeanette

    Can Stevia be used in cooking and baking and if so how is the conversion between that and sugar made?

  • Dale

    I am so unschooled I am 48 and this is the first time I have ever heard of Stevia. I will have to get some and try it out.

  • ray

    used stivia for a long time abt 20 yrsnow and have had no problem finding it it is the best for the diabetics and aspartame is the worst thing the have ever invented it is just a bunch o chemicals that taste sweet ( orignally developed for a heart med but it was cheep to make and tasted sweet so the had it approved for a food supliment sucks to be poor and uninformed
    take heed that splenda is at the same level as aspartame as far as being toxic

  • Bill

    Your body can’t digest Clorine. As in your body cannot process salt (sea salt, table salt, electrolites)? Hmm…I always thought table salt was half Clorine and half Sodium. Both explosive metals. That surely can’t be good for your body…but you know what? You would die without it.

    So, do you have a study that says Splenda (Sucralose) is harmful?

  • http://www.sheerbalance.com Brett Blumenthal

    Bill and others who don’t necessarily believe Splenda is bad for you. I have to say, there is a ton of controversy over artificial sweeteners. Part of it is because there are lobbyists and Food Regulators who don’t want the artificial sweetener business to go out of business…here are a couple of things to read:
    http://www.janethull.com/askdrhull/article.php?id=046
    And if you don’t believe that Dr. Hull is onto something. Maybe you’d like to find out that Duke University has also conducted a study, exposed here:
    http://www.celebritydietdoctor.com/splenda-harmful/
    And if you are really interested, here is the study:
    http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a902553409~db=all~order=page

  • S.W.P.

    “Brett” You’re right on there.That’s the reason why Stevia is getting a bad rap.The FDA main responsibility is the welfare of the people on any new product ,be it a Drug or Food Additive or so called Natural Cure derived from any Natural occurring Plant or Mineral.But do to the Lobbyists on behalf of corporate interest and mainly the Drug Industry,most all Alternative Medicine is shunned and labeled non-effective do to profit margin.If it can’t be Patented then there is no profit.Therefore if it is not a Drug then it is ridiculed and banded.The FDA has shirked it’s obligation to the people for far to long on the whims of the Food and Drug Industry that has inside manipulations of the FDA.Until there is truth and honor then the American Society will suffer all in the name of the Dollar.

  • CatFan

    “Bill and others who don’t necessarily believe Splenda is bad for you. I have to say, there is a ton of controversy over artificial sweeteners.”

    The reason for the controversy should be self-explanatory. It’s A-R-T-I-F-I-C-I-A-L… (which is why it’s bad for you).

  • Ken

    Check to see what stevia is blended with to deliver the correct volumefor each serving. In many instances I found that is was mixed with malto-dextrin. That is just another derivative of corn, right in the refined form of powder.

  • Bob

    Anyone know (or have links to) opinions of diabetic dietician(s) concerning these stevia products? I guess my concern centers mainly on the carbs.

    I haven’t found or tried stevia liquid, only the powdered package kind. One is TRUVIA, whose ingredients list as ERYTHRITOL, REBIANA, NATURAL FLAVORS. Per packet carb says 3g. Erythritol says 3g. Are the 3g of carbs BECAUSE of the Erythirtol, or in addition to it? And what the hey is Erythritol anywho? Is it NOT in the liquid stevia because it’s really the same or a different powdering agent as …

    … the MALTODEXTRIN ingredient in the “Spring Valley” brand of stevia packets I bought in the diabetes section at Walmart? That stevia product is sold as natural herb dietary supplement, not as a sweetener like TRUVIA is. The Spring Valley stevia has no carb or any other nutrient listing. It only lists two ingredients: MALTODEXTRIN and STEVIA-REBAUDIANA.

    For the record my sweet tooth is more than satisfied with FOUR packets of TRUVIA in my coffee or tea (but that’s 12g of carbs!?!)

    Two packets of Spring Valley stevia are almost as good (though not as “clean” tasting to me as TRUVIA, which I found to have no hint of bitter aftertaste like the Spring Valley stevia had).

  • Lidia, I am so confused with all those artificial swetners I have been using splenda for a long time now and I have insulin resistance so I really have to watch my sugar intake . where can I find Agave nectar ?

    Where can I find Agave nectar?

  • http://www.sheerbalance.com Brett Blumenthal

    Lidia…Agave nectar is sold in most all-natural aisles in the super market. Whole Foods and Trader Joes should also carry it.

  • Bill

    I tried Stevia on several occasions and to put it bluntly it tastes lousy. If Sweet and Low is supposedly no good for you , my only other alternative is to go back to table sugar (which I have). The couple extra pounds I may carry or a slight decrease in energy hardly seem a fair trade off for something as ineffective or pallatable as using Stevia. Just my opinion.

  • Kala

    I use Stevita spoonable Stevia in packets and love it in my tea especially hot green tea. I’m hooked!

  • http://yahoo larry

    WAKE UP AMERICA………..
    The plant that Stevia is made from has been used in Japan for 400 years.
    The reason we cant get it is because of Corp. Sugar Co,s lobbying of the FDA. Take a look at who owns the companys that produce artificial
    Sweetners and you have your answer.
    I have used Stevia for two years, i lose wt. and my doctor just took me off diabetic drugs, At least im not injesting a man made chemical that was designed in the beginning to be a pesticide.
    Just my thoughts

  • jeff

    the stevia actually shrung my junk!
    now my potatoes are bigger than my meat.
    oh my what to do?

  • http://none kathleen hans

    My father, a diabetic, used artificial sweetners instead of sugar. I watched him as he slowly DIED of complications of diabetes that was also increased because of his NOT KNOWING what he was REALLY EATING! i am not diabetic, but I watch what, how much, type of foods, etc. I am approx 3 lbs overweight, and HALLOWEEN didn’t help..but i know that I simply need to RETURN to GOOD HABITS as well as WALK 2-3 miles every day! my breakfast: whole grain cereal with MILK! My tummy is full and adequate calories ingested will aid me in my 3 mile daily walk! May your journey be a very successful one! kd

  • http://none kathleen hans

    It is SO UNFORTUNATE that SO MANY people do NOT KNOW HOW and WHAT to eat in order to FEED their body! I also STRONGLY SUGGEST that every single person actually TAKE THE TIME to visit their PHYSICIAN at least 2 X a year…merely to MAKE CERTAIN that “EVERYTHING IW ‘working right”..and if you MD asks for blood tests, that is simply his way of WATCHING CAREFULLY OVER YOU! I will be very honest in that when I moved from CA to NV, I had to leave my FAVORITE PHYSICIAN! He had watched over me for YEARS…and then I moved to NV where the physiccian that I have been to visit,..they REALLY DO NOT “CARE” FOR THIER CLIENTS..and THAT IS JUST SIMPLY WRONG…without “PATIENTS” any doctor will simply LOOSE HIS “PRACTICE’…and if the first physician that you visit doesn’t treat you “RIGHT” then …FIND ANOTHER! i know that I am going to have to move back to CALIFORNIA to located my favorite physician! I now have to HOPE and PRAY that he will accept me ‘back” as one of his patients. the only reason that i left him was sothat i could MOVE to NV…WHAT A MISTAKE! Please make better decisions than the one that i made!

  • Rick

    Stevia is now found in the sweetener section of most grocery stores including Wal Mart, one brand name is Truvia which is pure Stevia, another is a 50/50 mix of Stevia and Organic Cane Sugar..instead of 15 calories per serving like Sugar has, its only 5..pure Stevia which does not taste awful as Bill claims…has 0 calories…lets see would you rather have something that is sweet but gives you diabetes or something sweet that doesnt… hmmmm

  • Jenny

    I just purchased the Stevia a few days ago. I was really disappointed with the taste! I guess since I am used to the taste of Splenda and Nutri Sweet, it may take a while to adapt to Stevia. I have been using half Stevia and half Splenda since my purchase and that seems to help. Cut it down, gradually until you have adapted to Stevia. Worth a shot. :)

  • Anna

    TAKE A STEVIA ONE MONTH CHALLENGE! I am a perpetual tea drinker and I like my tea sweet. I first tried Stevia and didn’t like the slight bitter aftertaste. Over and over, I’d give it a try and then give up. In last couple of months, though, my daughter and I both took all sugar out of our diets for health reasons. I tried Stevia again, in several different forms. I found that the drops did not have as much of a bitter aftertaste and I was able to tolerate it. Once I detoxed from my sugar addiction (a few weeks), I’ve found that I can use the Stevia powder (white) without noticing any taste but the sweetness. I even use the raw green powder now (powdered herb sold in bulk in some health food stores). I have dropped 6 pounds without dieting (besides eliminating sugar)and my daughter’s health is much improved. I’m interested in cooking with Stevia and I found a Stevia cookbook! I defintely encourage anyone to try it- and stick with it until you get used to it!

  • ziya

    MS. ANNA,
    PLZZZZZZZZZZZ CAN I HAVE INFO ,ON —WHERE TO GET STEVIA RECIPES,PLZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

  • http://www.glycemic-index.org/stevia-and-diabetes.html Tina

    We used to grow stevia in our garden on the Gold Coast, it was great drying the herbs and mixing with herbal teas and other foods. It didn’t have an after taste either. As someone with sweet tooth and knowing how bad sugar is, I love stevia, never ever experienced any side effects from it.

  • Don Dias

    stevia not only sweetens, it enhances flavors. If you put too much it bring out flavors and also is bitter. Ihave used stevia ror ten years and have grown it 5 years.