Beyond Gorgeous

Several of my blog followers have asked me, “What about Truvia?”

Truvia started out as stevia.  The owners of Truvia, Cargill  Labs and Coca-Cola, extract the sweet part of the leaf, Rebiana A, and combine it with erythritol, a sugar alcohol.  And “natural flavors.”  It has zero calories and no effect on blood sugar levels.  The advertising promotes it as stevia with no aftertaste.  One teaspoon is as sweet as two teaspoons of sugar, and it has no nutritional value.

Pure Via is the counterpart, owned by Pepsico.  The Pure Via Web site proclaims it to be all natural.  They call the sweet substance “Reb A” and say that it is refined using ethanol from cane sugar.  Most of the reviews called both these products “stevia.”

Anti-sites say that these products are not pure stevia and not natural. However, all the stevia products I’ve seen are processed in some way.  I don’t buy the leaves and cook it down in my kitchen.  Perhaps it’s the big names associated with unhealthy stuff that makes us a bit nervous.

There have been a few short-term studies on both animals and humans which have concluded that there are no serious side effects from the products.  There are no large or long-term studies completed that I can find.  Some of the studies are actually on stevia. A Web site for people to list any side effects they have had with Truvia show things like rashes and intestinal problems. Some of these could be in response to the erythritol. Erythritol, like most sugar alcohols, are fermented and then refined.  People with extreme sensitivities to yeast might have problems with these.  Also, sugar alcohols tend to cause stomach upset, gas, and diarrhea if you overdo on them.  That’s easy to fix.  Just don’t use so much sweetener.  If white sugar affected us all that way, we wouldn’t be so troubled with weight!

Should you use one of these stevia-based sweeteners?  If it is more readily available than other substitutes and if you like the taste better, I couldn’t find any overwhelming evidence that either are harmful.  It would be wise, though, to pay close attention to what your body is telling you when you use these — or other — products.  If you notice any difference in your health and well-being, you might want to experiment to see if you are having an adverse reaction.  Lay off for a while, then try again. If you get the same symptoms each time, you probably are having a negative reaction and should choose another option.

Personally, I think the closer to natural you can get — the better.  Since I like regular stevia just fine, and since the jury is still out on Truvia and Pure Via, I will probably just stick with the plain ‘ol variety.

Eating to live and living for Christ,

Susan Jordan Brown

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